Learning to pick out books at their independent reading level doesn’t come naturally for all kids. However, it is a skill they can learn. Many experts say that kids should be reading just right books 80%-90% of the time when reading independently.
A just right book is a book that kids can read accurately and fluently without too many unknown words. These are the books kids should read to practice their reading strategies and improve their reading skills. Books that are too easy or too hard to read won’t help the reader improve their skills much.
Reading, like any other skill, takes practice and like any other skill the right kind practice is very important if you want to improve your performance.
Teachers often level all their classroom books and tell kids they can only read from a small selection of books in a particular tub, but kids tend to get disinterested rather quickly when their choices are so limited. Rather than telling kids what books to read, teach them how to choose books that are just right for them and give them a lot more books to choose from. When students feel they are choosing what to read rather than being told what to read, they tend to enjoy reading and become motivated and engaged readers.
I have created a resource for teaching the “hows” and “whys” of selecting and reading just right books.This resource includes a detailed lesson plan with a PowerPoint presentation. The learning goal is for students to use the strategies learned from the lesson to select books at their independent reading level. During the lesson the teacher will ask and answer three important questions.
- What is a just right book?
- Why is it important to read just right books?
- How will I know a book is just right for me?
Then, the teacher will model strategies for selecting just right books and deciding if a book is just right you.
Once you have taught kids how to choose just right books you can monitor them during independent reading time simply by asking them “Is that a just right book for you?” Ask them to read some of it to you and use the Five Finger Rule. You and the student can both tell if the book is just right for them.
If it is not a just right book you can use this as a teachable moment to guide them toward choosing a different book. After you have done this a few times with students they usually get it and do a good job of selecting books that are just right for them.
This resource comes with posters and bookmarks that reinforce the strategies taught using the PowerPoint presentation. They are used as visual reminders to help students choose just right books and how to know if a book is just right for them. There are two reading logs, one for reading just right fiction books and one for reading just right nonfiction books. These are handy for tracking what students are reading and to see if they really are choosing just right books.
The posters make a fun bulletin board display. There are two sets of 16 posters, one with the border and one without.
These bookmarks can be printed up double sided or individually. When printing you will need to select double-sided and then select “Flip pages on short edge.”I recommend using cardstock and to laminate the bookmark sheets first and then cut them out. This saves time and laminate.
Learning to choose just right books is a valuable skill that all kids need to learn. It is a skill that will help them develop as readers while making reading a more engaging and enjoyable experience for them. Having a classroom where kids can reliably choose books that are at their independent reading level means the teacher can spend less time organizing and updating book tubs. Its a win-win situation!
To purchase this resource or to learn more about it click here.