Sunday, May 26, 2013

How Much Did We Read?

For the last three years I have asked my students to pick a goal as to the number of books they can read for the school year. I usually suggest they at least start at forty – a number that stuck in my head after reading Donalyn Miller’s The Book Whisperer. Why forty? For many of the same reasons Donalyn suggests it to her students. They do not think they can do it, and I want to show them that they can.

On our last day of reading class last week we took a final look at our reading lists and they created a small poster for how many books they actually read this year. As we created them we reflected back on the year. Every child read a ton. Every child read more than they had last year. And, most importantly, every single one felt like they had grown as a reader.

I should note, I’m pretty laid back about the amount of books they read. If they do not reach forty, I’m fine with that. One child was in the twenties. Every book he read was over five hundred pages. We celebrate that. We also do not compare between kids. The child who read twenty-two books is a reader to be celebrated, just as the child who read over one hundred is.

When considering what they’ve read, I also look at genres. While we do track genres of the books they’ve read – and I suggest they try at least one book from all of them – I really just want them to read. If someone is crazy about fantasy and mainly reads that genre, fine with me. The same might be said for graphic novels. I have one student who read over two hundred books. The majority of those are graphic novels. If you were to come into my classroom I could show you his growth this year – it is incredible. I thank God for graphic novels; they have been the best thing to happen to my classroom library.

I’d say much the same about picture books. Some students counted a few of their favorites on their list as books they read. I’m fine with that as well. Those are the kids over a hundred books. They devoured books this year and wanted to record everything they read. One of them counted up how many picture books I had because she was curious and told me she’ll come back next year and count them up again – to see how many I add to my collection. She loves the format of picture books.

Check out the faces below. These are kids who are proud of themselves. Kids who know they are readers. When given access to books, a teacher who reads, time to read in class, and the expectation that they will read all year long – great things can happen.