Just Right Books

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Students will use the "I PICK" strategy to choose their own books from classroom library

Big Idea

Choosy Readers Choose For Themselves!

My Lens

I want my students to be able to choose a just right book for themselves to read during independent reading time.  I will teach them to pick intentionally by using the acronym I. P.I.C.K.   I read about this strategy in The Daily Five Written by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. This book has been out for awhile- it was published in 2006.  Chapter two discusses the core foundational beliefs of a workshop model- moving way from the management of student behavior and toward developing principled habits within each student. These beliefs include: Trusting students, providing choice, nurturing community, creating a sense of urgency, building stamina, and staying out of the way of students once routines are established.  "The sisters" as they are known by also wrote The Cafe Book in 2009.  Both are good resources, although The Daily Five might be more appropriate for K-3 teachers.  My over arching goal for the year is to develop readers who enjoy reading, read for information, and read to develop their thinking. To meet these goals the students need to be able to choose most of their reading material independently. In the first weeks of school, I am explicitly teaching skills and establishing routines  so all students excel in reading.  In the coming weeks I will provide many supports and scaffolds for students who have not yet grown strong reading wings. In a few lessons from now, I will utilize students book talks to familiarize all students with popular book choices at different levels.


15 minutes


For the connection, I bring an Ikea bag filled with different kinds of shoes.  I show one pair at a time and I talk about the purpose of the shoe and show its different attributes.  Sole, tread, heel, flexibility, etc.  I discuss how each shoe is designed for a different purpose. Examples: Soccer shoes have cleats and are designed for helping you run fast on grass; ballet shoes are designed for dancing on your toes, sandals are designed to help keep you cool when it’s hot…etc. I ask, "Are high heels for hiking? I tell the students when we are getting dressed we pick a particular kind of shoe based on the activity we will be doing.  It is the same when we pick a book to read.  

I begin by having an anchor chart started with I PICK written on it and the outline of a hand drawn.  Teaching Point:  “Today, I want to teach you one way to find a just right book is to use the I pick strategy.  Readers can pick a just right book by remembering the acronym ‘I. P.I.C.K.’  Just like how we pick certain shoes for a certain activity, we pick a book for certain reasons, too.  Let me tell you what each letter stands for and what it means. I stands for “ I choose.”  That means you will be choosing the particular books you read during independent reading. P stands for purpose. When you pick a book you want to ask yourself what is my purpose for reading this book? I stands for Interesting. Ask yourself does this book look interesting to me? C stands for Comprehension. AS you are selecting the book you can read a paragraph and see if you understand what it is saying.  Also this this is a good time to also notice if you know the words.  Because K stands for Know the words”.  I write each word or phrase on the thumb and 4 fingers on the hand outline on the anchor chart as I am introducing them.  Say, "Watch me as I say each step across my fingers- I is for I choose, P is for I know my purpose for this book, I is am I interested in this author, series, or title? C is for can I comprehend the paragraphs? and K is for do I know the words?"  Model this by saying each one while raising a finger.

Active Engagement:  Direct the students to use the chart to help them practice saying in their head silently each of the letters and what they stand for across their fingers.  Next say,  "Partner Bs, Raise your hands."  This will increase accountability and engagement. "I want you to turn and talk with your partner using telling across your fingers the letters and what they stand for in the I P.I.C.K. strategy.

Demonstration using three books

3 minutes

“I am going to show you how I can quickly use the ‘I PICK’ strategy to determine if one of these is a just right book for me.  This first one is titled The Face in the Besseldorf Funeral Parlor, the cover looks interesting, Let me read the back…” Start reading the blurb aloud…stop when you notice that the book is a mystery.  Tell students that this is not a good fit right now because it is a mystery that takes place in a funeral home and it just doesn’t sound like the book I want to read right now.  Pick up second book.  “Wow, The cover of this book looks so interesting!  Let me read the back blurb.”  Start reading.  Stop after several sentences.  Say,”Students I really want to read this book this year, but I know it is not a just right book for me now because I really can’t understand the blurb.  The sentences are really hard.”  Let’s look at the last book.  It is titled Lilly and Miss Liberty.  I picked this book because I love learning about the Statue of Liberty and this book has a picture of it on the cover.  Let me read the blurb….” Read it outloud.  “Wow! I know I found the perfect book for me because I picked it. My purpose it to find out what happens to Lily when she visits the Statue of Liberty, I’m very interested in reading it, I could comprehend the blurb and I knew all of the words.

"Students, one way to pick your own just right books is to use the 'I P.I.C.K.' strategy.  In a minute those of you who are in a just right book will be walking quietly back to your desk to start reading and remember to jot down important events in your story on your timeline you started yesterday.  Those of you who need to shop for a just right book stay here on the rug for a moment."   Stand up and supervise the transition of students to their desks. Turn your attention back to the students on the rug.  Dismiss them in small groups to shop for books in the classroom library. Depending how many students you have, you might have to review the strategy or ask questions of the students quietly while everyone gets a turn to shop.

Independent reading and conferencing

35 minutes

Remind the adults in the room to give the students a chance to settle into their reading.  Stand and Stare.. observe how the students are settling in to their reading.  Today is day three, so I already have several pairs of students that I am going to support during independent reading. I have noticed that they are not reading but looking around and flipping through the pages. I will bring in my bin of high interests books and get pairs of students reading the same book.   More on this strategy in the lessons to come.  I also had several students make a T-chart and analyze several books as to whether or not they were good fit books.  I wanted to deepen their understanding of how to judge if a book was a good fit or not for them, so I asked them to show me how they would rate several books from the library.  The students picked three books, just as I had and completed the T-chart.  A few students shopped in the classroom library.

Partner Share and Reading Logs

3 minutes

Interrupt students and tell them in a moment Partner A will be sharing how their reading went today and new events added to the timeline.  Then Partner B shares.  End the lesson with modeling how to fill out the reading log.  Students place book and log in their homework folder.