Blasting Off to a Great Year {Getting to Know Your Readers}

Welcome to the Blasting Off to a Great Year blog hop!  Several literacy bloggers have gotten together to share literacy ideas for starting your year off right.  Special thanks to  Carla from Comprehension Connection and Andrea from Reading Toward the Stars for organizing this hop.

One of the things that I think is so important is getting to know your students as readers as quickly as possible.  Sure, we all use sight word lists, running records, phonics screeners, fluency passages, etc. to figure out where the kids are academically.  But it is just as important to determine their interests and attitudes in relation to reading as well.

Why?  Say you have a student reading at or above grade level...well if you don't know how to capture that child's interest there is no guarantee he/she is going to continue to grow as a reader.  And if you have kids reading below grade level, getting them motivated and interested in reading is going to be a huge factor or else the child may just give up.

Here are some of the ways I use to assess my students interests and attitudes towards reading at the start of the year:

  • Allow time for independent reading.  Observe!  Who is up and doing everything but reading?  Who is curled up in the corner actually reading?
  • Allow time for exploration of the classroom library.  Observe some more!  What types of books are drawing in your students the most?  
  • Allow time for free choice reading.  What books are your students choosing to read?  Don't limit choices too much...just see what happens.  Which kids are choosing books that are way too easy or way too hard?  Are they actually reading them?  What about these books is getting their attention?
  • Play lots of "get to know you" type games to figure out what your students do in their free time, what they are interested in, etc.  This way you can find out who is obsessed with dinosaurs, who wants to be a fire fighter, and who loves playing soccer.  All of these things can help you choose texts in the future.
  • Send home a parent survey.  While they might not all come back, those that do can give you some insight as to what you students have excelled in or struggled with in the past.  Parents know what their kids are interested in...sometimes we don't always get information from kids (blank stare?) so by surveying both parents and students you are more likely to get the information you want.
  • Give a student survey.  Below is a survey you can use to help determine some of your students' interests and attitudes towards reading.  You can download this survey from Google docs for free here.

What do you use to get to know your readers at the start of the year?
Click the button below to visit Michelle from Big Time Literacy and see what she has to share!


  1. I love the interest survey, and it is such an important thing to connect with your kids as readers and know their preferences. Still working on my library, and I can't wait to get going with the kids again this year. Thanks Jessica!

  2. I like that you included ways to get to know your reader as important parts of the initial assessment. Great list of suggestions!

    Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late

  3. Oh my I love this! I had a great survey from like 15 years ago with Garfield but lost it. This one is great ! Thanks for the idea!
    Reading and Writing Redhead

  4. Your inventory looks great!!! I did the EXACT same thing over the summer! I created an inventory that I wanted to use with my guided reading groups. I just wanted to learn more about them. Great minds think alike :) Thanks for your post. Loved it.
    Curious Firsties

  5. I think that some teachers underestimate how much this one little activity can give them so much information about how kids see themselves as readers and what they like. I love the questions that you posed to the students!

  6. What a great survey! It's the perfect way to learn about our readers. :)
    I'll be using it with my students.
    Read With Me ABC

  7. Thanks for a fun freebie! I love getting to know my little readers and what interests them. Your survey is much cuter than the Garfield survey I've used for years. Thanks for sharing! :)
    Literacy Loving Gals


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