One of the best ways to discover what a child likes to read is to ask. At the beginning of the year, interview and/or ask each child to complete a reading interest survey to assess reading interests, attitudes, and knowledge of reading strategies. Interview questions may include:
- Do you like to read? Why or why not?
- What do you like to read?
- What is the last good book you read?
- Do you like when adults read aloud to you?
- What is the most important thing about reading?
- When you are reading, what are you trying to do?
- What is reading?
- When you come to a word you don’t know, what do you do?
- Do you think it’s important to read every word correctly? Why or why not?
- What makes a person a good reader?
- Do you think good readers ever come to a word they don’t know? If yes, what do you think they do?
Reading Interest Inventories
Quick and easy to administer, interest inventories provide another great way to determine students’ interests and attitudes toward reading.
Five Finger Rule
Have students read the first page or two of a book. Tell them to put up one finger for each word they cannot read. If all five fingers are up at the end of a page or two, the book is probably too difficult and they should find an easier book to read. If they only have one or two fingers up, it may be a “just right” book—they should try reading a few pages. If they understand and enjoy the book, it is just right. The picture book Goldie Socks and the Three Libearians is a great way to introduce the 5 Finger Rule.
Individual Reading Conferences
The individual reading conference is an invaluable tool for differentiating instruction and matching children with appropriate books. An individual conference allows the teacher to work one-on-one with each child, addressing that child’s specific needs and providing the necessary reading guidance.
Status of the Class
Status of the class is like a mini-conference at the beginning of each reading workshop session. During status of the class the teacher asks each reader what he is reading and the page he is on. This information is recorded daily at the beginning of reading workshop. Through this five-minute activity, the teacher gathers valuable information including: who is finishing and abandoning books, patterns in readers’ book preferences, who needs help selecting “just right” books, and more. See Status of the Class for a more detailed description.
Self-Evaluation and Goal Setting
As students learn to evaluate their own reading preferences and behaviors, they can begin to notice patterns in their reading habits. The teacher and student can use this information to set future reading goals that will help the reader expand and enrich his reading diet.