In Chapter 5, Miller focuses on the steps readers take to plan and organize their reading. Many times students have never done this, so we (as the adults) must model and guide students through this process. Modeling after Miller, our school accepts the 40 book challenge for Intermediate Students. At first students are positive that it is not possible. One of my 5th graders actually told me, “I’ve never finished A book. I can’t finish 40.” In reality, the number 40 matters a whole lot less than the goal. Some of my students never made it to 40 books (66 of my 90 met their 40-book goal), but they did read 26 books, 30 books, 35 books in a single school year. They were so proud of themselves, and so was I. They set goals, they tracked their progress, and they made tremendous strides towards becoming life-long readers. As students finished books, they would record them on this Reading Log, along with a rating out of 5 stars.
When conferring with students, we would often pull out this log, check their progress, and talk about any books they had finished since the last time we met. After Winter Break, we had a more formal reflection period as an entire class. Students took the time to look at the reading logs and complete this reflection form. They graphed their reading for the fall, set goals for the Spring, and told their classmates about their favorite read so far. We discussed how we’ve grown as readers, our favorite books, things that have surprised us about reading, and general observations. It was really neat to see how the kids’ perception of a ‘reader’ has evolved. The entire conversation was so encouraging.
Switching gears within this chapter, Miller also asks the question, “How can students’ reading experiences, interests, and goals lead them to the next book, and then the next? How can unmotivated readers develop reading plans than build momentum and increase engagement?” She goes on to discuss that books in a series are a powerful tool for building “readers” in the classroom, and I completely agree! In my classroom, our Book Series shelves (see below) were the most visited. With books in a series, students are more confident because they are familiar with the characters, as well as the writer’s style. While there may be many surprises within the plot, there is more predictability and safety for students. Plus, it is motivating for students to finish a book because they know another fabulous one awaits!