Creating a Community of Readers in Your Classroom // Part 1: Start Simple
Can you relate to this?
You join your students on the gathering area, share an anchor text, talk about the book, maybe teach a skill or two, and then send your kiddos off to their desks for independent reading.
Maybe you mix in some guided reading in there, as well. Perhaps a conference or two. You wrap it up with meeting on the gathering area once again, have a few students share out how they applied said skill into their own reading and call it a day.
Sound familiar? This was my reading block, day in and day out. There was few opportunity for students to really connect their reading experiences with each other.
We want our students to love reading, but we often forget that reading can be enhanced through experiencing it with others - creating a
community of readers where students can't WAIT to talk to each other about what they are reading. This type of environment can be made through a few on-going activities. Here are are few of my favorite SIMPLE ways that you can cultivate a community of readers.
"Recommended Books" Bin
Looking for a quick win with your community of readers? This idea takes little to no prep and is completely student run.
Here's how it works:
Prepare a bin in your classroom labeled "Recommended Books."
Students read their own books during independent reading time.
If a students really likes the book and thinks that other students may as well, they place it in the "Recommended Books" bin. When a student is looking for a new book, he/she can check out the books that their classmates have recommended and choose to read them as well.
Option: Have students include a sticky note on the book cover that says "Recommended by: __________." The student choosing the recommended book can connect with the student who recommended it to swap thoughts.
Remember the movie critics Siskel and Ebert? I almost totally forgot about them! They were two movie critics that would give their "two thumbs up" (or down) for newly released movies. I borrowed this idea for my classroom and created a "Critic's Corner."
Here's how it works:
Students read their own books during independent reading time
As students complete a book, they can sign up to appear on "Critic's Corner." Students don't have to do a review for every book they read, but rather the ones that they feel very strong about.
Complete a review to share during "Critic's Corner." I had a guided script that students used to put together their review of their book. In this script students share their favorites, things that surprised them, and anything else they wanted to share. Each "critic" would give their final rating of the book.
Host your weekly/monthly "Critic's Corner." We would have "Critic's Corner" most Friday afternoons, but you may find that is too often for your students. Choose a few students to read their review to the class. Allow for the other students to respond to and ask questions about the review. If you have a really unique chair or a funky hat that students can sit in or wear while reading their review, then by all means, use it! Students will beg to be the next critic!
Option:Create a bulletin board displaying past reviews for students to refer back to.
Class Book Awards
I love this next idea. Similar to the "Critic's Corner," this idea takes on a similar fashion. Students focus on for their favorite books, only this time, they vote on books that the class read together.
Here's how it works:
Throughout the month read several books to your class These can be read aloud texts that you used to teach certain skills, or any other book that all your students have been exposed to.
Think about categories that the books you've read could fit in to. (Funniest book, book with the most interesting character, book with the most surprising ending...etc)
Create a ballot form for students to cast their vote on. List all of the categories that students are voting for and the books that they can choose from. Students vote for one book per category.
Tally up the votes and have an awards ceremony. This is the fun part. Create envelopes for each category. Inside each envelop write the winner on an index card. Host an award's ceremony where you (or the students themselves) reveal the winners.
Option: Display a cover picture of each winning book in your classroom.
So there you have it, my favorite ways to start simple in creating a a community of readers!
If you loved these 3 ways to establish a community of readers, then you can check out 3 MORE ways to take your reading community to the next level