As I have previously blogged about, I am implementing a modified version of the Daily 5  in my classroom this year.

After reading the two books (The Daily 5 and CAFE) by “The Sisters”  over the summer holidays, completing lots of online research and having many online discussions via Twitter, I am still learning! One aspect of the Daily 5 that is needing lots of work is helping my students select a “good fit” book. An important part of becoming a successful independent reader is being able to choose “good fit” books for yourself. That is, a book that is not too easy or too difficult, but “just right”.

Using the model developed by The Sisters, I introduced the IPICK strategy to my students and made the following poster. 

 Good Fit Books poster

Kathleen Morris and I constantly refer to this poster and we are supporting and coaching our students through the process of choosing books that are right for them. In addition to this, we have “5 Finger Test” bookmarks that the students use. I got this idea from colleague Deb de Vries, and we explicitly modelled how to choose a book using this method. The idea is that the students choose a book and start reading a page. Each time they come to a tricky word, they raise a finger. See the bookmarks below for details.5 Finger Test bookmark

One great activity we did when discussing how to choose a “good fit” book was The Sisters “good fit shoes” lesson. The idea being that choosing a good fit book to read is like choosing a good fit pair of shoes. It is a powerful and clever analogy, and the kids loved it! They particularly enjoyed watching Kathleen try to put on her two year old nephews pair of runners, clearly not a “good fit”! Unfortunately we didn’t think to film our lesson, but here’s a YouTube clip featuring The Sisters demonstrating the lesson.

For our weaker readers, we have limited the choices that they can make. We have a box full of books that are around the reading level of these students. They can still choose books that interest them, but we know they are able to practise their reading strategies using appropriate texts. Our more competent readers have boxes full of junior fiction and non-fiction books that are more challenging.

We are supporting our students through the process of selecting “good fit” books and they are finding it really enjoyable and quite empowering to read what they are interested in. My students love telling me about their “good fit” books at the beginning of each conference and it’s great to see them really enjoying their independent reading time. At the moment we still have some students who are not choosing appropriate books, the main problem being that they select books that are too difficult. It is a learning process for myself and my students, so we’re learning together!

At the moment students just choose one book at a time, but I know many Daily 5 classrooms have book boxes or bags for each child and they house a collection of “good fit” books. We will look to adopt a similar approach later in the year.

Do you have any other ideas for helping students choose “good fit” books?

How have you overcome challenges with having students select their own books?