Choosing “Good Fit” Books

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?

  4 comments for “Choosing “Good Fit” Books

  1. Carmen
    March 30, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Hi there, I really enjoy reading your blog and am very interested in what you are achieving with your students. In my work as a Literacy Coach I’ve been trying to help teachers modify how & what they do to best meet the needs of the students.
    Choosing ‘good fit’ books is an ongoing challenge for many teachers (& students). This week I had discussions with a group of my coaching partners about this very topic!
    The ‘IPICK’ acronym is a good one and simple to understand, especially for younger students. It takes time in the beginning but after awhile, students select more quickly & carefully! Incorporating book boxes, (or something similar) will provide greater choice of just right text to read will be good, down the track.
    As a suggestion for those students still choosing text that is too hard, perhaps they could have those texts in a partner reading situation (read to/read with) where the partner is a more experienced reader. That way the student can still enjoy the too hard text!
    Not sure if my suggestion will work in your context, but I look forward to your comments.
    Again, thanks for the great page and keep up the good work! Your students will greatly benefit I’m sure!

    • Miss Kelly Jordan
      March 31, 2011 at 9:25 am

      @ Carmen,

      I appreciate your comment! It’s great to hear from a literacy coach, so I value your thoughts and ideas. I agree that it’s challenging for many students to choose “good fit” books but it will pay off in the end I’m sure. Introducing this in Grade Two will hopefully mean these students develop a love of reading and they’ll be able to confidently choose “good fit” books now and in the future. I think it would be difficult to begin this approach with students younger than Grade Two, but I know of people who are doing it in Grade One too. Slow and steady is the best way to go I think!

      I like your suggestion of having less capable students reading to more confident readers. We do “Read to Someone” as part of our reading groups, and as we have mixed ability groups, this could definitely work.

      I look forward to hearing from you again!

      Kelly

  2. Tanya Robbie
    May 16, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    My son is in a grade 4 class that has just commenced talking about Good Fit Books. I asked him to tell me what it was all about and he shrugged, saying “it’s just about choosing books that are suitable for you to read, I know which books are suitable already”. As his explanation wasn’t very helpful I decided to do some research and ended up here. My question is: is there room within this program for children who are already independent readers? or is it just designed to give children the nudge they need to achieve independence?
    My son is a very keen reader who has been reading independently since Grade 2 and has often expressed frustration at what he sees as being dragged back to the level of his less literate classmates. If you can help me understand where he might fit in the Good Fit Books scheme of things I would be very grateful as it would help me to encourage him to take part.
    Thanks
    Tanya

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