Motivating Readers Through Our Classroom Reading Challenge!

Reading Challenge Interactive Bulletin BoardI have a large bulletin board in my classroom that is right in the middle of my classroom library.  In the past, I’ve used it to hang up anchor charts relevant to the units we were currently studying for the students to reference, but I was never quite satisfied.  I felt as if I was “wasting” that space with anchor charts I could easily hang on the walls or windows. 

book whispererI spent some time searching Pinterest and various blogs for interactive reader’s workshop bulletin boards.  I began finding lots of teachers who were creating bulletin boards that focused around Donalynn Miller’s 40 Book Reading Challenge.  I read Donalynn Miller’s book, The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child, a few years ago and love the ideas she has to offer.  She encourages children to read more than they ever have in the past by presenting them with a 40 book challenge throughout the year.  

I was thinking this could definitely be something I might want to implement, however due to the fact that I am an inclusion teacher and teach a very wide range of academic abilities, I felt that attaching a specific number to a book challenge might actually be more detrimental to my students then helpful.  Even though 5th graders always love a good competition, I was worried about some of my more struggling students’ self esteem lowering due to the fact that didn’t read “enough” books or as many as their peers.  In my opinion, the number 40 doesn’t matter at all.  The fact that students are reading way more than they ever read is really the ultimate goal! 

So that got me to thinking… I wanted to create a reading challenge for my students and use the bulletin board as an interactive way to track their progress.  

Interactive Twitter Bulletin BoardI asked the students to think about all of the books they read independently last year.  I had them “turn and talk” to the people at their groups sharing all of the different titles they could remember.  Then I asked them to see if they can estimate ABOUT how many total books they read.  They jotted their numbers down on a sticky note and stuck them on our new Twitter board.  The range was quite large, as I had expected.  Some students wrote that they only read 5-10 books in the previous year, while others jotted down numbers between 40-50 books!

Then I explained to the class that this year, their challenge was to push themselves as readers and try to read MORE than they did last year.  They would use their own individual number as their differentiate goal.  

So here’s where the bulletin board comes into play. In order to make sure they are reminded of their challenge throughout the year, I created this interactive bulletin board.  Every time the students finish reading a new book, they do two things:

1. They fill out their completed book on their “Completed Books Tracking Sheet” that they keep right in their book baggie that always stays with them. 

2. They fill out a book rating sheet to add to the bulletin board. 

These sheets allow the students to share the title and author of the book they just read, provide their rating of 1-5 (5 stars being it was AMAZING and one of the best books they’ve read and 1 being they did not enjoy it and do not recommend it.), and a ONE sentence summary. 

Book Recommendation Cards

Prior to introducing the book rating sheets, I modeled what a one sentence summary looked like. Concise summaries are often VERY difficult for my students as they always want to tell you about every single thing that happened in the book.  We discussed how they should inform the reader who the main characters are, what the problem is, and NOT give away the ending because then no one will want to read the book!  So far, I am happy to report that *most of* the one sentences summaries have turned out great so far! 

Book Rec Maniac Magee

One they complete their book rating sheets, they find the genre poster of the book they read and staple it underneath.  Separating the book rating cards by genre forces the students to actively think about what genre they read and also helps them branch out and read other genres if they notice they are also sticking to one genre more than others. 

Genre Posters

The picture above of the bulletin board was taken during the second week of school and already my students have finished a ton of books! They really get excited to read each other summaries and look at the book ratings.  Even better, they are trying to hunt down the other students who wrote the reviews and discuss the books together once they both finished the same book! (I purposely had the students leave off their name from the book rating sheets because I didn’t want my students comparing who read the most and least amount of books).

As you can see from the picture above, a majority of my students are reading realistic fiction books now.  Partly because most of my classroom library is filled with this genre as our first unit of study is Characterization.  When we move through our various reading units, I expect to see the other genres filling up quite quickly! 

Book Recommendation CardWe also realized that we might not have enough room to fit all of our book squares.  Therefore, if needed, we decided we will clear off the wall surrounding the bulletin board so that we can use that area as well to display the books they’ve read! 

My students are already on their way to surpass their reading goals and they are so excited when they finish a book! Yay!!

You can find the FREE completed book forms HERE and my genre posters HERE.  If you try the reading challenge out, I’d love to hear how it goes in your classroom! :) 

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