For my entire 10 1/2 years of teaching seventh and eighth grade, I have heard, "But I don't like to read. There aren't any pictures in these books." Well, let me fix that!
Since participating in #bookaday, I have discovered that many children's books are fantastic. There is much more out there than the easy reader: wonderful stories, rich vocabulary, beautiful paintings. If I was missing out on this for so long, my students are certainly missing out.
I went to the public library and picked up 35 trade books (I made sure they were ones heavy with words). I placed the books all over my classroom, letting the kids know that they did not have to choose from the stack at their group. I was pleased to see that most of my students moved about the classroom and searched for books they found appealing. This was more than the usually do when we go to our school library.
I did, of course, have to have some educational focus for the day. We would never want the kids thinking we were reading for enjoyment (cough-cough). Having shared my plan at an ESL meeting the night before, I decided upon this:
"That's all we have to do?"
Yep, kids, that's all we have to do.
They read. They were quiet! And most importantly, they actually enjoyed reading.
When I asked, "Did you find a book you really liked?", I heard yeses throughout the room.
When I asked, "Do you want to do this again?", I heard, "Not every week but maybe every three weeks." Nothing like specifics.
I did have one student try to cheat. He was reading a couple of pages of each book, writing down the information I had requested. When he had ten titles written down within the first few minutes, I knew something was up. His classmates ridiculed him plenty for cheating on reading kid books.
Now that I have done this once, I am excited to try it again and see what I can do with it. It's been awhile since I have attempted Donalyn Miller's forty-book challenge, but now I am seeing new possibilities.