Does your classroom have books your students CAN and WANT to read?

I showed yesterday how I updated my teacher toolbox and created some editable labels in a variety of colors.  You can find that post here.  I also created a black/white version by request.  It is a little different because the chevron looked awful condensed into the little tabs...I think because there are only two colors.  So I put chevron on all the labels and tiny polka dots on the tabs.  

Congrats to the winners who pinned their favorite color yesterday.  You all should see the product in your inbox.  Thanks for pinning!

I finally started reading the above book, which I have been waiting to read since seeing Allington present at the IRA conference in April.  I love his writing because it is so straightforward.  He tells it like it is and backs it up with research.  Very easy to read.  One of the chapters is called "Kids Need Books They Can Read."  Although this seems like common sense, it doesn't happen everywhere, even in my own school.  The majority seem bound to test prep and the basal. Below are some of the points presented in the chapter that I found interesting.

These points are written in the order that they impact student reading achievement.  Sounds a lot like a reading workshop approach...

Allington talks a lot about high success reading.  He suggests most of the reading kids do should be at independent levels (98% accuracy rate or higher). He also shares how this is most often not the case. We have kids reading from content area textbooks they cannot read and basal stories that are obviously not every child's independent level.  The key point I got here was in order to make sure every child is engaged in high success reading, ever child must be reading different books!

A lot of emphasis is given to the presence of books in schools.  He values spending money on books over paraprofessionals.  Low income schools often have inadequate libraries with outdated books and lack teacher resources.  The library is okay but it leaves a lot to be desired.  It also isn't a place the kids yearn to be at...just a place they go once a week to get a book.  We also don't have teacher resources or a leveled book room as part of our library.  It could be much more.

Teachers need books in their classrooms!  He also went on to say that exemplary teachers observed in a study had over 1,500 books.  We need to have books to meet our students' needs.  (I think most of us bloggers have this part covered...!)  I know many classrooms probably do not have an equal assortment of at and below level books or even narrative and informational texts.  I'm trying to think if I meet that criteria...

Allington recommends having magazines present in the classroom for students to read.  I can attest to this.  I had some Zoobooks magazines in my room last year and they were the most popular reading material with my boys all year long.  Apparently GamePro was (it doesn't exist anymore apparently) the most popular magazine chosen by boys and J-14 was the most popular magazine with girls.  These aren't magazines available in school.  He also commented that struggling readers have no trouble comprehending above grade level text while reading interest and motivation play a huge role!  

Although the above is true, Allington recommends series reading and even "junk reading" for enhancing student engagement, motivation, and even fluency and comprehension.  Obviously knowing the characters and background of the story before reading makes it easier to understand.  He says that series books are what get many kids interested in reading.  I remember flying through The Babysitter's Club books when I was young!  

The last section of the chapter is about the disparity between wealthy and poor families regarding the number of books available to children in homes.  Why are we not providing books for our students to own?  He mentioned one school who gave every child a gift card to a bookstore to purchase books.  There is tons of money for all sorts of stuff teachers don't need or want, why not books?  

I have never been given books or money for books in my classroom.  Have any of you?  It's sad because it is the most important factor!  I know when I was packing up my room to move, my books went last.  As long as there were books, we could function.  

There is this brief article going around (see it here) about how a survey revealed 87% of teachers spend more than $150 on their yeah...what is that, per month?!  That would buy 10-20 books?

Here is the link to the book on Amazon, if you'd like to check it out.  I'll share more some other day!  

P.S. I can't wait for Monday Made It!  Hobby Lobby has became my friend...I'm working on painting my stool too.


  1. Oh man, I just loved everything about this post! I love all the important pieces you pulled out of that book so far- these are all such great reminders and important parts of teaching reading. Pinning this post to refer back to frequently!
    P.S. Totally loved the Babysitter's Club reference-- definitely had that entire series and read them over and over as a kid. :)
    Learning to the Core

  2. What a great post! This reminds me of ideas from The Book Whisperer. I just went to Ollie's yesterday and bought some more books for my classroom next year. I'm having a hard time finding books that are below grade level that would still interest my students. Next year I will have EC so many of many students will be 2 or 3 grade levels behind in reading. Thanks for all the info!

    Sixth Grade Tales
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  3. This is a great post! Thank you for sharing all of this info! I definitely agree that having books (any reading!) accessible for students can make a huge difference!

    I read babysitter's club, sweet valley twins, and nancy drew when I was growing up. I love book series!! :O)

    Collaboration Cuties

  4. I really needed this post today! I've been spending the past three weeks organizing over 600 books for my classroom library. I am a first year teacher blessed with books from giving family, friends, and the teacher before me. I've been so whiny and complaining about how long the process is taking! Thank you for reminding me to focus more on developing a large, quality collection of texts for my students. Even when it gets overwhelming, they deserve it! :)


  5. This gives me an idea for a grant we could write...maybe some magazine subscriptions for our classrooms this year?


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