I bring a variety of different hats to school: sombrero, cowboy, Easter Bonnet, pith helmet, sailor hat, tiara, shark hat, etc. (This is just my twist on the "Shoe" Lesson from the Daily Five)
Teaching children to choose their own good-fit books is one of the greatest skills we can impart. Because we want the teaching to stick, we reinforce the lesson all year long. During the examination of the hats, the discussion moves to interest. I explain that someone who is not interested in baseball, might not have a baseball cap, however, if that person really loves ocean life, the might love to have a shark hat like mine.
Boys and girls take a look at these hats that I have brought to school. Can you tell me what you think each of these hats are for? Do they have a specific purpose? If you had a choice, which hat would you choose?
On this piece of paper, I would like you to draw a picture of your favorite hat. When you are finished with your picture, make sure you write your name on the back. Then bring your picture back to the rug we will be making a graph of our classes favorite hat.
We then discuss the importance of choosing books that interest us as well. Just like the way our shoes reflect our interests, it is important we pick books that interest us.
Let's take a look at the graph we just made. Why do you think the results turned out the way they did? Why did some children choose the shark hat, and why did someone else choose the tiara? From what you are telling me, I think that different people choose different hats because there are things about the hat they like. But what if the hat that the child wants most is too large or small? Would that be a good choice for them?
I try on the different hats to show that even if the hat is one that I like most, it might not be the best fit on my head. Here are some of the hats that I like best. What are your thoughts? why do you laugh when I put on the sombrero? How about if I wear the Easter Bonnet? You are still laughing, why? Is it because these hats do not fit me well?
The same holds true when you are choosing books. You might like a particular type of book, but if is too hard or too easy for you, then your reading skills will not really improve. It would not be a "good fit".
I have brought some examples of books that are of similar subjects. Let's look at the different degrees of reading difficulty. What that means is how hard or easy they are to read at you level. See this Winnie-the-Pooh book? Many of us are interested in reading this book, but when we look at the writing inside, we can see that it would be too challenging for any student in this class to read. Now let's look at the other two books. These books are better fits for this class, but one is still too difficult for most of you to read. There is nothing wrong with choosing a book just to look at the pictures, but when I say that we are having reading practice, we need to take a look at which books might be best suited for your reading ability. Most of you would need a book that has only a few words in it as we learn to be better readers.
Children need to be able to choose the books they read, if the child doesn’t choose a book that ‘fits’, it can really be downhill from there. He or she can get into a pattern of choosing books that won’t fit, making reading difficult and unpleasant. We want to get young children on the right path to choosing books that are appropriate for their current level. That’s why book choice is so important.
One of the ways that I remember how to choose a "best-fit" book is by remembering this saying "I PICK" Here is my I PICK anchor chart. I want to go over each section of it with you:
I Pick, (I choose my books.)
PURPOSE-Why do I want to read?,
INTEREST-Does it interest me?,
COMPREHEND-Do I understand it?,
KNOW--Do I know most of the words?
Sometimes , I forget what all the parts are for "I PICK", so I found a song to go along with the poster and to help me remember the saying"I PICK".
Then, I choose students to pick out books from our classroom library to take to the rug to read.
Assessment: While the children are on the rug reading, I move around and chat with students about which books they have chosen and why they think the book they chose is a "good fit" for them. Some children may be sent back to the shelf to make better choices.