A waste of time. That’s what I thought when a curriculum trainer suggested that all students should keep a list of the books they read as a way to develop their independent reading lives and to communicate about who they are as readers. I could not see any useful purpose for such a list. I was wrong.
What’s included on a Books Read list? The book title is indispensable. It’s helpful to include the author, the number of pages, the date completed, and the genre. Asking students to keep a Books Read list walks a fine line between useful and onerous. When in doubt, err on the side of easy, because a less complete list is better than no list at all.
Here’s how a “Books Read” list is good for students
- A Books Read list establishes a student’s identity as a reader. It’s an answer to the question'”What kind of reader am I?”
- A Books Read list is a reminder that each student is expected to pursue an independent reading life.
- A Books Read list is a source for sharing ideas with friends about what they might want to read.
- A Books Read list is a starting place for setting reading goals about what to read that will help students get better at reading.
- A Books Read list is where students show their teacher that they have met the reading goals they set.
Here’s how a Books Read list is good for teachers.
- A Books Read list tells you what titles a student chooses to read.
- A Books Read list gives an ideas of how much a student is reading.
- A Books Read list gives clues about whether a student does most of his or her independent reading at grade level.
- A Books Read list shows what genres a student chooses to read.
- A Books Read list is the starting point for talking with students about goal setting around choosing more complex books, books in different genres, and books that will push them to grow as readers.
To get the most benefit from the books Read list, here are some practical suggestions. Have everyone keep the list in the same place – in the front of a Reading Notebook, or a planner for example. Remind students to write on the list. Give time in class to do it. Collect the list regularly or confer with each student about their list every month. Ask students what they notice about their list. What are they proud of? What do they want you to know about the list? What do they hope you will see the next time you look at the list together?
The Common Core State Standards ask students to read at grade level or above. The Books Read list is a tool to help students meet the standard. That’s time well spent.
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