To start the hour today, we have a democratic process:
After we decide how to work, I distribute books and bookmarks with reading schedules (blank, though their are examples included here). To continue to emphasize student choice (and thus get their buy-in), I ask my groups to work together to set their reading schedule, using the dates I have scheduled for discussion and project work as their due dates.
Students check the bookmark against other important dates (weekends, ACT testing) and create a schedule that works.
With books in hand and some background knowledge of characters, conflicts, and themes already introduced, I ask students to read today. If they decide they don't like the book they chose, it's not too late to switch to the other book; a student simply needs to tell me by the end of the hour so that they can still read the new book for the next class. Plus, this time serves as a hook. If I can get them reading and liking the book now, they are more likely to read at home when requested.
Students get comfortable around the room to read, making use of corners and comfy chairs. We settle into a comfortable silence, broken only by an occasional whisper (I see books being shown to one another as words and events are discussed) and pages turning.
As for me, I use our quiet time to meet with a few students about classwork. Then, I read, too, modeling the behavior I expect of my students.