When you’re teaching lessons that require students to practice the skill that same day, it's necessary for students to have a book to read. Sometimes students just finished a book and now they are without one. Sometimes, students are taking “a break” and reading a picture book rather than a chapter book. This lesson is one of many that helps students figure out what their next book might be so that they are always ready to practice the lesson you taught.
I introduce this lesson by asking students, “How do people, students, adults, figure out what to read next?”. I listen to the ideas that students share. After many students have shared, I point out that most of the examples are ones that involve someone telling them about a book, a librarian, a bookstore employee, a friend, parent or family member, even an advertisement. These are the most effective ways. Its even more effective when someone who enjoys the same type of books as you share what they are reading. Today they will learn how to make a book recommendation.
In this part of the lesson, I show them a guide and demonstrate how it might sound. I give them an example of how someone gave me a recommendation that was successful sharing that one day a student learned that I liked books about other worlds or future worlds and thought I might like the series, Warriors. I was very reluctant because I am not interested in cats or their lives but she explained that I like alternative worlds and this was a good example of one and she also shared how much she liked it. She was already on the 2nd series. I thought I would give it a try and in fact, I did really like it.
I also gave an example of a recommendation I gave to a student who really liked greek mythology after reading The Percy Jackson series. I thought she might like other cultural legends. So I recommended a book called, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon which is based on Chinese legends. She loved it.
I want students to practice the way a recommendation is made as well as hear another peer practice making a recommendation. So, in this part, I ask students to pretend as if they are recommending the book to their partner and then switch. I remind them to start by asking questions of their partner to find out what kind of books their partners like to read. After they are done sharing, they might want to write down a book that their partner has recommended on a “books to read” page where they collect a list of books that they can read.
Having students practice making recommendation, prepares them to make recommendation naturally, without prompting, when they have a book that they another student would be interested in. This is also a way to create a classroom culture around reading and celebrating great books.
After they are finished with independent reading, I ask them to prepare to share their book as a book recommendation to a new partner.
Finally, I ask students to share with the class if they have learned of a new book or series that they are now interested in because of a recommendation they received today.
Through this activity, I am trying to encourage students to feel comfortable making recommendations to other students. They are the best reviewers of books for their age. Often, when students are not sure what else to read, I am asked to give recommendations. However, it is more successful and students are more engaged and interested when the recommendations are made by their peers. They also are excited about talking with each other about the books that they have read.