This post is specifically for upper grades- middle school and high school- but can be applied to younger grades with some adaptations if needed.
Assigned reading is a very popular practice in Language Arts/ English classrooms across the nation, but what if there’s a better way? Here are a few alternatives to getting your students reading, but without the dreaded assigned books.
For individual reading:
Offer a large list of books for them to choose from. If there are certain guidelines or books you have to stay within the parameters of, this is a great option. It keeps you within the guidelines but gives the students their own choice in the literature they are reading.
Do a one-on-one book report discussion. If the goal is for the student to read and comprehend a book, this works beautifully. Let them choose a book that interests them and schedule a day or two where you take students aside during independent work time to discuss the book with them and verify that they read it. Ask provoking questions about the characters and the plot. Even if you haven’t read every single book, teachers are typically pretty good at spotting those telling the truth and those wanting to fib a bit.
For classroom reading involving the whole class:
Have a class discussion and vote. If you’re choosing a book for the whole class to read, why not allow the students to bring suggestions to the table, discuss together, and vote? Keep in mind, books are books! Every suggestion is valid and worth bringing to the table. Yes, even comic books!
Similarly, allow students to choose a book and defend it. Let the student or group of students choose the book for the next classroom read (again, all books are valid!). Give them a chance to build their case on their specific book and take turns defending their choice to the rest of the class on why their book should be chosen. This activity can be done in a day or it can be drug out over several days depending on how in-depth you want to go!
What do you do in your classroom to find ways to bring out students’ voices in choosing books to read?
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