December 20. 2016

Spark Students’ Interest via Book Talks: A Teacher Tip from Fountas and Pinnell

Reading is thinking, and students’ “talk” reveals their thinking. Talking about books is a way to activate students’ interest and introduce them to new texts they might otherwise miss. Think of a book talk as a brief commercial for a book. Book talks are short—you simply want to whet the students’ appetites. 

Consider the following when selecting books for book talks:

  • New books by authors whom the students love.
  • Another book by an author whose book you’ve read aloud.
  • “Best-selling” titles that are popular with the age group.
  • Books on issues or topics that interest the students.
  • Books that introduce a new author, genre, or illustrator.

Book talks enable you to help your students get to know authors, genres and books that appeal to them, and thus extend their literate lives. Excerpted from Guiding Readers and Writers. 

December 13. 2016

Help Students Make Good Reading Choices: A Teacher Tip from Fountas and Pinnell on Independent Reading

Your role in independent reading is to ensure that students consistently select books they can read with understanding and fluency, and to have conversations with them about those books. You may be tempted to prescribe book choices, but this can result in a mechanical approach to reading as a “task.” Without genuine choice they will never experience the authentic role of a reader. At the same time, the ability to choose appropriate books is not something you can expect students to know how to do. It is something you need to teach. Communicate to students that choosing a just-right book, not a difficult book, is the expectation for independent reading. 

Teach students these 7 ways of judging a book choice:
Decide if the book is just right to read independently by reading a little at the beginning or middle
Think about the topic of the book to see if it peaks your interest
Read a bit of the book to get a feel for the author’s style and the language
Ask peers/teachers for recommendations
Look at the book cover, back cover, book flaps and illustrations
Think about the author and what you may already know about the author
Give the book a good chance.

Excerpted from LLI Red System Choice Library Guide to Independent Reading