We definitely built a strong reading community this school year! After reading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller, I knew I needed to change the reading climate in my classroom. Independent reading books (or as I call them, “good fit books”) became the core of my reading block and I wanted students to have an authentic reading experience in my class.
One of the highlights of building this reading community was just the sheer number of books my students were reading! Everyone had a 40 book challenge (including me!) which I didn’t necessarily hold over their heads. I just used it as motivation to read more than they had in other years and once students started, they just couldn’t stop!
My students do not earn prizes for reading or get anything for reaching 40, but they know that they’re trying to reach their own personal goal and that’s enough. They have personal binders to record the books they’ve read and in the spring I wanted to see how many we’ve read as a whole grade (about 40 students).
Sure enough, it was close to 800. I wrote this number on the board to celebrate the amazing reading community we built! Every time a student finished another book, they had the honor of changing that number on the board. We celebrated students and were really excited to see that number inching towards 1,000.
When we finally made it, I wrote something on the board that truly stumped my kids. I wrote:
On Thursday, bring any of the following to reading class (if you have them):
That was it! I didn’t elaborate and I didn’t explain anything. Building anticipation for a reading class ignites engagement. As each day got closer and closer to Thursday, the buzz in my classroom grew and grew. They wanted to know so badly what was happening in our classroom!
When students arrived on Thursday, they entered a book camp out. Of course we’re going to reward reading with…more reading! Instead of our normal scheduled class, we camped out and read under the stars. It was beautiful!
Since many of my students brought in their camp out materials, all I brought in were some twinkle lights, rearranged the furniture, turned out the classroom lights, and put a camping sound youtube video up. (I also brought in a few camp out snacks which is totally optional!)
Creating unique and engaging reading communities will transform your reading instruction. Make reading instruction authentic and your kids will soar!