Slice of Life: Teaching Readers to Feed Themselves

Summer is closing in, and our book stacks and reading plans start to formulate. We teachers can’t wait to soak up a few good reads.

My students have grown as readers. All those books they read this year added up, and they’ve become stronger readers and thinkers. Every year they amaze me with their growth. They’ve had daily access to books and book groups that provided support and accountability. But in a few weeks, the constructs change.  They’ll be away from the classroom, the routine, the friends and the books.  As summer starts, access, support, and accountability all diminish.  Not surprisingly, so does reading.

Every year I try to find a way to keep books in the hands of my students during the summer months. This year I’m focusing on teaching students to find great reads virtually. I want it to be easy to find the books they want. The funny, the scary, the comic books, the guide books, the world’s most disgusting animal books. The Wimpy Kid books, the Captain Underpants books and maybe some books they’d didn’t think they’d like. Summer is a time to read what you want.

Today we started looking for those books. On Goodreads, Amazon and the public library.

I gave some general directions with Google classroom. And they were off.

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Authors, titles and the electronic access to the first few chapters from Amazon offers the ability to book shop just like they do in our library.

Aliza* started with authors we’d read. Dan Gemeinhart, Jason Reynolds, and Peter Brown.

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She clicked on:Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 8.10.07 PM.png

Then the libraries link.

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Amazing. She went on to search for Jason Reynolds and found As Brave as You and the soon to be published Patina.

“Ah…I can’t get Patina till we’re back in school. Man, it’s just like the Wild Robot Returns, that doesn’t come out until October.”

She’d remembered.  I wanted her to put it on a to-be-read list.

“There’s a place here you can ask them to order a book. Can I do that?”

Brilliant and yes!

Next Gabby* found that there was a sequel to Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova.

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The library search turned up books in a different county. Requesting the book was possible but not quite as straight forward. Checking out Amazon she found out more title possibilities.

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 7.52.33 PM.pngStudents copied titles and authors into their summer reading google doc. Transferring the hyperlinks along with the titles and author names.

And then the bell rang.

We still have time I told them.

“I want this book Mrs. Harmatz. When can I get it?” Jill* said pointing to the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Instead of giving her the copy I have in my cupboard, I showed her how 37 copies were available in her local library. She just had to request it.

Here’s hoping to teach readers how to find their books so they can always feed themselves.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life Tuesdays. Read more slices here.

12 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Teaching Readers to Feed Themselves

  1. Great way to have them using real world skills and tools. I could see my kids doing a similar task. SInce the majority of my kids have very little access to books over the summer (no public libraries) I will put it in my ‘back to school’ ideas.

  2. Instead of waiting for their parents to help, you’ve taught them a life-long skill, just awesome, Julieanne. I love seeing the process, hearing their words, too. For some, summer reading is all they have. For others, depends on a ride. Wouldn’t it be fun to have library home deliveries? Ha! Happy end of school!

  3. What a great way to teach students autonomy in finding and getting books to read over the summer. I know you live in L.A., but I was amazed that there are 17 copies of The Honest Truth. I would bet our library system only has one, if that many. Maybe you could have a day at the library to meet up with your students. We did this last summer, and it was really fun to check in with them, and one of mine got a library card that day.

  4. Love this classroom story of teaching your children how to fish! I’m totally borrowing this idea for our final book club meeting on June 13. Lucky for us – we meet twice during the summer at the public library! And this week and next week we’ll be visiting 5th grade classrooms to invite the rising 5th graders to join us this summer and next year.

  5. What an important skill to develop in students! I love the way you lead them to discover how to find and get books through the summer (and the rest of their life). I even spy a few titles that I may look for this summer on their lists. 🙂

  6. This is golden. We have a librarian from the local system coming in next Monday, and I think I need to spend some time Thursday/Friday getting them to see how they can search, find, and request books. Thanks for your ideas!

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