Every day my students need to read independently (I call it ‘Indepedendent Reading’ also referred to DEAR time or USSR time). They have to read a chapter book of their choosing. My novels are broken into 3 levels, and at the beginning of the year I tell them which level of fiction matches the various PM reading levels.
We discuss ‘real readers’ v. ‘fake readers‘ and I have a chart that goes with this discussion. I provide a bookmark for each student and allow them to keep the chapter book they are reading in a tub on their desk, as reading a novel is often a task for early finishers.
I have a lot of other books on the bookshelf besides chapter books, but I find some students will always choose joke books, picture books, drawing books or non fiction texts. I understand that they love those sorts of books, but I want to ensure they are reading a range of texts at their instructional level, and can maintain the reading of a long text over a number of days or weeks.
But if I make them only read chapter books, when will all those other books get read?
There were two things I did to address this issue. I tell them they have to read a ‘chapter book’, not necessarily a novel. That way the non fiction fans can read the ‘Horrible Histories and Horrible Science’ books – still in a chapter book form. Also, each week one reading group gets to have ‘free choice reading’ – whereas for the whole week they can choose any book they want and also get to read on the cushions and wear the genre glasses. it was too hard changing groups each day for free choice reading, so rotating through the groups each week is less disruptive.
I had a few parents comment at the Parent Teacher Interviews that they have noticed their child has increased their level of interest in reading this year, so all the things I’m implementing must be working!