Your role in independent reading is to ensure that students consistently select books they can read with understanding and fluency, and to have conversations with them about those books. You may be tempted to prescribe book choices, but this can result in a mechanical approach to reading as a “task.” Without genuine choice they will never experience the authentic role of a reader. At the same time, the ability to choose appropriate books is not something you can expect students to know how to do. It is something you need to teach. Communicate to students that choosing a just-right book, not a difficult book, is the expectation for independent reading.
Teach students these 7 ways of judging a book choice:
• Decide if the book is just right to read independently by reading a little at the beginning or middle
• Think about the topic of the book to see if it peaks your interest
• Read a bit of the book to get a feel for the author’s style and the language
• Ask peers/teachers for recommendations
• Look at the book cover, back cover, book flaps and illustrations
• Think about the author and what you may already know about the author
• Give the book a good chance.
Excerpted from LLI Red System Choice Library Guide to Independent Reading