Saturday, February 5, 2011

Extending Reading Clubs to the Classroom

The second grade lunchtime reading club was a wonderful experience. The girls that started it wish it could keep going. We will keep talking about how they can continue during lunchtime on the their own. Meanwhile, just about everyone in the class wants to be part of the reading club! I talked about this happy problem with my principal and she suggested "empowering" the classroom teacher to run reading clubs. She suggested that a particular time each week could be carved out for reading clubs and that I could visit the classroom to lead a group and perhaps other adults from the school or community could also be invited to lead groups.

To make a long story short - I presented four possible book clubs. 1) an author study of Cynthia Rylant where every student would read Henry and Mudge the First Book plus as many other books by Cynthia Rylant as they could 2) an author study of Ezra Jack Keats 3) Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus (A longer chapter book that is also available also on CD) 4) a topic discussion group of weather where students would read as many books as they could about weather and talk about what they learned and how the books differ.

The students wrote down their first, second, and third choices. They are anxiously waiting to be assigned to groups on Monday so they can start reading.

I am anxiously waiting to see how this works out!

While I was talking to their teacher about organizing these groups, the teacher's impulse was to assign the students to groups by their reading ability. So much time is spent in classrooms on reading instruction that I imagine it can be hard sometimes for teachers to imagine reading discussion that is not about teaching how to read. I emphasized to him that the books for all of the groups were accessible to a broad range of readers and the students selected for interest, not reading level. I realize that in the library I am very lucky that I get to talk with kids about books - not usually about their reading ability. I hope that I can keep the idea of "reading clubs" in the classroom still clearly focused on the books and ideas, and the students' interests, and not let them devolve into just another period of reading instruction.

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