Thursday, September 5, 2013

Building A Reading Community

One of my favorite parts of my job is awaiting our first conversations about books with eagerness like waiting to open a favorite birthday present.  It is so much fun to unwrap the gifts they bring each year when we begin to share our lives as readers.  In my opening letter to welcome my new students to fifth grade, I ask each student to bring in a photo of his or her favorite place to read.  They must be in the photo and reading their favorite book.  Our first conversations will be centered on these photos along with my sharing several pictures of me reading around my home.  My students love seeing where the teacher lives as well they learn about my country life especially the picture of my reading in my hammock next to our pond with barn in the background.

Finally they begin their first entry in their Reader’s Notebook (RNB).  The students begin to write about their lives as readers.  I ask them to finish writing at home after I share Ralph Fletcher’s book:  Guy Write, which I read this summer. I will always remember him speaking at Allwrite and reminding all of us that a RNB could be a collection of photos, items, stickers, game tickets etc.  From looking at their RNB, both boys and girls really heard this message this year.

I was thrilled the next day as the students shared their notebook, and I overhead several conversations:

“I didn’t know you liked Percy Jackson, we’ve been in the same class for 3 years.”
“I read that book over the summer.  Did you know the next book is coming out in October?”
“Can I borrow that book when you are finished, I have been waiting for it at the library.”

This was fun to read because she wrote about authors.

A reminder about the importance of author visits. Thank you
Cynthia Lord-this student ranked you #1.


  1. Thank you for sharing these notebooks, Maria - how lively and inspired they are! I've been thinking about expanding my notion of a reader's response, too and getting away from just the Nancie Atwell style letter. You students' responses have got me even more motivated to try new avenues.

    1. This year's class really has more energy for their writer's notebook. They seem more connected and it feels more authentic and personal.

  2. Great post Maria, I love how they included pictures of the books and authors. I am doing these launching lessons now. I will incorporate this into our notebooks. Let me know if you ever want to swap links for our sites. Have a great year!