So, I have these ideas/thoughts/concerns all jumbled up in my head and need to get them out. And I am very curious to hear your feedback on all of it! :) I know that in upper grades, this probably isn't as much of a concern, but here in first...
Why are they such an ordeal in first grade?! Is it such an ordeal? Is it okay for kids to be reading (longer) chapter books in first grade? Should there be guidelines for who can/can't add these books to their book tubs? Are first graders truly ready for the kinds of readers they need to be in order to successfully navigate longer chapter books?
These questions/concerns have been invading my brain all year. I know children MUST have choice in what they read. I believe this. My first graders have choice. But how much choice is too much?
After all of the reading and workshop-hopping I've done this year, I thought I might have an answer. Instead, I have more questions. (But that's a good thing, right?)
We have a full-day Kindergarten program in our district. 99% of our kids come to first grade after being in that full-day K. What this means is that most of them are already reading... so by January, there are quite a few who are at the point of wanting to be "chapter book readers." I know that many of them are absolutely ready to take on those longer books that require "stick-with-it-ness."
But what about the kids who aren't... and want to read those chapter books anyway? Am I hurting their reading development (especially comprehension) if they are reading those books but aren't ready? I've had conversations with students who are picking chapter books but aren't ever finishing them. I've had conversations with my one little boy who is barely ready for level E books (if I have to put a "level" on it,) and yet he insists on choosing chapter books.
We spend time each week discussing "good fit books." We know that involves much more than the level of text difficulty. My first graders are growing and learning. All but one are already meeting the end-of-the-year benchmarks for first grade. When we shop each week, I've asked children to choose most of their books from the "leveled" book tubs and then add just a few more from anywhere in our classroom library. My thinking is that this helps to add to the balance of what they're reading.
Right now, my chapter books are scattered across the classroom. Some are in the regular classroom library, in the "chapter books" bin or in a themed basket. A whole bunch are in my very generously "leveled" book boxes. I'm struggling with if I should keep it this way, or if I should start creating baskets of "series" books (for example, Geronimo Stilton, Magic TreeHouse, Puppy Place, etc.)
While I was thinking about this, I stumbled upon Beth Newingham's Third Grade classroom blog (wow!!) and her page on her classroom library. I think I need to give this a little more thought!
Well, friends... here is where I need your help! How do you handle chapter books? Am I making more out of this than I need to? What advice do you have?