As the school year gets off to a great start, I am thinking about how I am going to build an authentic community of readers. My goal is that my students will be as independent and engaged as possible, which means I have to step out of the way and make room for them to do their thing. I’ll scaffold along the way, but I am hoping that they take ownership and come up with their own ideas.
Building an authentic reading community is our goal. I had a few students last year who decided to read books in a partnership, and they ended up having a great time. They read, talked, laughed, and ended up enjoying their books, I think more than if they had been reading alone. It’s always more fun with a friend.
This memory of last year got me thinking about how to encourage this type of partnership without requiring it.
I realized that I purchased lots of multiple copies of the same titles for my classroom library, and I can simply make the suggestion. Students have asked for multiple copies of the same book before, so if I place them in my classroom library strategically, maybe they will take the bait…
So I rearranged a few books and remain hopeful…
I reorganized a few of the books in our contemporary fiction section and went from there…
Many of the doubles (and triples, etc) that are in the classroom library have already been checked out, but the ones that are left I shelved together with the suggestion that students might pick them up with a friend.
Last week our department invited all students to tour each others’ libraries, and as a result of that activity, three of my students decided to read Butter together. These books were all in different classrooms, but these students decided to read the same book anyway. It gives me hope that when I intentionally place books next to the suggestion of reading with a friend, they will start to read together.
I’m looking forward to seeing how my students decide to move forward with this suggestion, and I’m hopeful because I’ve seen it happen before.
How do you encourage your readers to read together?
Julie has been teaching secondary language arts for twenty years, spending the first fifteen in rural Central Oregon, four in Amman, Jordan, and the most recent school year in Managua, Nicaragua.
Follow her on twitter @SwinehartJulie