Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Still Learning to Read: Books I've Handed to Kids Recently

This is one of a series of blog posts that continue the conversation around Still Learning to Read--teaching reading to students in grades 3-6.  This series will run on the blog on Tuesdays starting in August 2016 and continue through the school year.

It is always around this time of year when I find that handing a book to a child can make a difference for the rest of the year.  This is the time of year when I know readers well enough to chit chat books on the way to lunch or at recess. This is the time of year when I start leaving a book in a child's book bin that I think they might like.  There is something about a young reader knowing that you thought about him/her specifically when you saw a book.  There is something about handing a child a specific book that strengthens a relationship.  This week, I noticed myself informally handing books to children in informal ways.  This is one of the most important jobs I do--so I have to know lots of books. Always. It seems that every year my kids have different tastes as readers, so I can't just recommend the books I've always recommended.  It is always a personal act--the act of recommending a book.  These are some of the books I've handed to kids (or ordered for kids) this week.

So many of my kids have become Raina fans. Raina's name comes up like she is a student in our class!  A few of us  were chatting informally as they came in the other day about them.  They especially love Smile and Sisters.  This week, I pulled out the Babysitter's Club Graphix. (I seem to only have #!--my other 2 have disappeared since last year so I had to reorder!)   Kids were thrilled to know about more books that Raina illustrated and there is a list of people waiting to dig into this series. (I love this kind of recommendation because it builds on what they love (Raina) but also introduces them to a new author that they might fall in love with (Ann Martin). 

One of my students had fallen in love with the Zita books  (By Ben Hatke) and was more engaged when reading them than I'd seen her all year. I remembered that I had received a review copy of Mighty Jack by the same author, earlier this month and I mentioned it to her and left it at her table the next day. She loved it and passed it on to another reader in the class who she thought would love it.

The Little Shaq books went around my room early in the year but they seem to be making their rounds again. Last week, I had a conversation with a student who was reading the 2nd book. We checked and were THRILLED to find out that the 3rd book in the Little Shaq series (Star of the Week) was due out THIS WEEK!  It should arrive today and was the talk of the room.  Not only did I get to hand a book to a child but this also built some awareness for those "hot off the press" books. 

The Treehouse Books were popular in my room last year and I realized they were published about a year earlier in Australia than they are here.  Lucky for Amazon, I can get copies of the books that are not quite published in the US yet which I think is the case with The 65 Story Treehouse which should arrive this week so one of my readers can read this last book (so far) in the series.

I bought the first two books in the new Super Happy Party Bears series after Ann DiBella recommended them on Facebook. I love having new books, doing a quick share in the morning before we start our day and handing them off to the first readers! Kids always love to be the first readers of new books so this is a fun way to hand books to kids.  I need to read this one as soon as I can get it back as it seems like a fun read for 3rd graders.

We visited the Columbus Zoo on a field trip a few weeks ago. My kids aren't reading much nonfiction yet so I picked up two of Jack Hanna's Wild But True books and gave them to a few of the first kids to walk in the room the next morning. I always love to hand books to kids in the morning as they start a buzz in the classroom with lots of kids curious about the books.

My students know me well enough now to know that they don't have to love any of the books I recommend to them. They know that they own their reading and that when I recommend a book, they are not obligated to read it. But, they also know that I think about them and their individual tastes and needs as readers and that matters. Knowing my kids as readers and combining that with what I know about books is one of my most important roles.  And one of my favorites:-) 

(Our new edition of Still Learning to Read was released in August!  You can order it online at StenhouseYou can follow the conversation using the hashtag #SLTRead or you can join us for a book chat on Facebook that began this week by joining our group here.)



  1. Looking forward to hearing how you and your students like the Super Happy Party Bears!

  2. I am loving the Tuesday posts (well, all of your posts actually!). Thanks for sharing the book ideas. I've put the books our library has on hold and look forward to seeing what might work for my students.

  3. I love the original BSC books. Hope your students enjoy them as well as the graphic novels!


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