Monday, November 21, 2011

Getting Students Excited about Reading

I've been having problems getting one particular grade 4 class excited about reading when they come to the library. I tried book trailers and book talks but got a mediocre response. Either the books were too hard or I was way off on books I thought they liked. I decided to find out their reading interests.  Students filled out a reading survey that I found in the Book Whisperer, by Donalyn Miller. I put the survey on Google docs and shared it with the teacher.  Students filled out the survey in one 45 minute library session. I found out that I was off on their interests. Most wanted Geronimo Stilton or books on World War II. For their next library visit, I pulled 3-5 books based on their interests in the survey and handed them out. I had just received four boxes of new books so each student got a brand new book. They were excited and sharing books like I had hoped to do earlier with the book talks! Yahoo!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What is a Caldecott Award?

For this lesson, I pull about 25 Caldecott medal books for an entire class. Students spend 5-10 minutes and browse through a book looking at pictures and trying to figure out the story. If they finish early they can pick another book. Using the whiteboard we brainstorm physical characteristics of the books. First time I did this the students read the stories but I dropped it because it made the lesson too long and boring. Eventually the students notice the award on the cover. We go back to our list and see how it matches with the Caldecott criteria. Last I show students a Caldecott Medal. I bought them from the American Library Association and they look exactly like the ones on the book. The kids go crazy over them and it is a memorable moment. In one school I worked at we had a contest where the best picture book was judged and a "Caldecott Medal" (from the ALA store) was put on the winners book. There are gold and silver medals for purchase at $14.50 for a packet of 24. The lesson lasts 20 minutes.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

High Low Books

Looking for easy-to-read books that target older students? My students seem to really like several series from Stone Arch Books. The covers are not babyish and the plots have conflicts that appeal to grades 3-5. Take the book, Rapunzel Lets her Hair Down, by Tony Bradman from the After Happily Ever After series. Rapunzel is sharing breakfast with her husband who talks about how much he loves Saturdays. He can play sports all day long and do whatever he wants.  Rapunzel, on the other hand, hates Saturdays because she has to wash her hair. It takes the help of 12 servants and lasts well past midnight. Rapunzel wants to cut her hair but her husband says, absolutely not! She also tells her husband she'd like to play sports and he tells her that girls are not good at sports. Ooooooh, now Rapunzel is mad at him. She concocts a plan to not only fix her hair problem but show her husband that girls can play sports. Funny and entertaining.

Other hot books are Claudia Christina Cortez, Library of Doom, and Dragonblood series from Stone Arch.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Having Fun with Books

A group of kindergarteners bounced into the library like a bunch of baboons. Arms and legs seemed to be everywhere. One girl  did a spin before sitting down, reveling in the swish of her skirt. Another boy jumped before splatting on the ground in a way that would be painful to any adult.  They sat, twitched, and rolled their way into a sitting position before pounding the palms of their hands on the hollow stage creating what sounded like a drum beat. Energy and excitement oozed from their bodies. It reminded me of a lesson I did where I had students tip waste paper baskets upside down and use them as drums while reading the book, Jungle Drums, by Graeme Base. I dropped the books I had originally planned to read and pulled the book out. On three pages when the Warthog makes a wish the students got to pound on the stage. What a blast! They were so darn cute I grabbed the video camera and taped them.