Thursday, 20 February 2014

3 weeks into the 40 Book Challenge

I'm one book into my own 40 book challenge with my kids but they've astounded me with their interest in this aspect of our class programme. But, it hasn't been all plain sailing! Here's a run down of the key learning moments in the last 2 weeks.

Some of my developing readers have made variable starts in their own challenge.
1 boy picked up a book that I would not have recommended to him, he's reading at Gold on the colour wheel, but I didn't have the heart to tell him that it would be too hard. This was the most motivated I've seen him with reading in our new school year. The Margaret Mahy novel makes regular appearances on his desk and he holds it with pride, given that I'm trying to encourage independent readers I'm not going to destroy him with a pointless teacher error. I feel validated in this as we are now making more progress when we have our 1 on 1 reading sessions.

Another reader, has loaned me one of his books (pictured), I've started reading it as it is exactly the type of book I would have read at his age but it also demonstrates my genuine interest in their book recommendations and allows us to talk about books.

One day during this time a couple of students asked me why I wasn't reading during SSR, I've fallen into that teacher-trap of doing odd jobs during this time. I need to be modelling the type of behaviour I'm trying to encourage so thought this was a reasonable query. Ever since, I try to model independent reading regularly but there is still need to occasionally do a little job.

I read an excellent blog post about slow readers, it arrived in my twitter feed at a perfect time. I hadn't broached the subject of differentiated expectations with the class ( I still haven't to be honest), the idea that some of my class might not reach 40 was quite obvious but I was yet to give much thought to my approach. Since I have spoken with a parent of one slower reader to outline my expectations, i.e., it's not the number of books that's important but the development of an independent reader.

I've won a book (thanks Gecko Press for the book pictured), been sent another and bought 2 more, so my kids are seeing my interest in books isn't idle talk. But when I offered up one as a challenge, the first person to read needed to have read 5 books I was gobsmacked by the response. One girl had already read seven and taken note of all of them in here 40 Book Book. She hadn't written much in about each book, however all titles, genres, dates of reading were all listed. This girl has the book in her desk and there is a list 7-8 long of kids wanting to be next! All kids are handing in their 40 Book Books tomorrow for me to check on them.

As part of our programme all children are being offered the opportunity to celebrate books they've read, one of my first book celebrations I loaded up to the class blog. This has been quite a motivating activity already and looks like it will produce lots of great work this year.

I am seeing more books on desks throughout the day and in keeping with Donalyn Millers's findings, the children are using the challenge to motivate reading at every moment of the day. I hate to complain that someone can't get their nose out of a book but... One of my kids walked into class reading a book which made me laugh, she then told me she'd almost ran into a street light on the way to school!

Clearly, the challenge is producing some motivated readers and I hope that this will continue. However, the real highlight of the  first three weeks has to be this piece of writing.


  1. So cool! You are doing great things. I had a couple who didn't make it last year but it wasn't a biggie at all- every single child read waaaaaay more books than they ever had before. I find some parents get in a real flap about it but once I talk them through it they understand that the goal is really to get them reading more. I think for the slower readers especially, it is really important to have milestones. We had a wee celebration on the last day of each term for 25%, 50% etc- cake or the chocolate game.
    So cool that it is working well for your kids. Sounds like you've found your "epicenter" reader!

    Bridget, 8C, Selwyn House, Chch

  2. Wow! That sounds so cool! I think this would be great for my class. What are they meant to write in their 40 Book Book? Have you written or will you write a blog on that?

    1. Hi Mel. Haven't blogged about it yet, but will get to it. So far we've decided that its just their thoughts about the book, what they're enjoying (or not). Some aren't writing much but I'll build it up, I bought them notebooks, because the aim is reading & not writing. One boy wrote that he found a book boring & didn't enjoy it - I told him that was great, there's lots of books I haven't enjoyed.

  3. Great information and I hope authors around the world are TAKING NOTE! Getting young readers consumed by great stories is critical!