I've been mulling over this question for a while now. What exactly does it mean when we say "good fit books?" After reading Cathy Mere's book More Than Guided Reading and hearing Debbie Miller last year, I knew my definition was evolving. Further conversations with Patrick Allen (as well as many #1stchat friends) pushed my thinking even further. We touched on this topic during last week's #1stchat on best practices in Reader's Workshop. It's helping me to reflect and revisit just what my definition includes.
I do teach my first graders the "I-PICK" method, as Gail and Joan (from the Daily Five/Cafe) suggest. In short, this means...
I - I pick a book.
P - Purpose (Why would I read this book?)
I - Interest (Is it a topic that interests me?)
C - Comprehend (Can I understand what is happening?)
K - Know most of the words
We revisit this often throughout the year. It is usually touched upon weekly before we shop for books for our individual book tubs. As I'm conferring with readers, we take a look at what they've chosen for their book tubs. We also chat about good fit books in terms of the following:
-number of words on a page
-recommendations from friends
-books to challenge us
-read alikes (meaning... if you liked that book, you might like this book)
-books about something we love
Who am I to make a decision for a reader about which book they will choose? I certainly don't like to be told what I have to read! Will I give support and guidance to my readers? Definitely! Will I give them books on occasion? Sure! But how will children learn to choose appropriate books for themselves if I don't give them the opportunity to practice?
So, if you visit our classroom and peek into our book tubs on shopping day, you might notice that one of my "D" readers has some easy books in his book tub right alongside the latest Geronimo Stilton book. You might see that one of my "R" readers decided to read the Katie Woo books, because Katie is just so cute. You might notice that our Jan Thomas box is empty because we just can't get enough of her! You might see a reader hand off a nonfiction book about planets to a friend who is enthralled with outer space. You might find someone leafing through our magazines in search of one about baby animals. You will definitely see me chatting with my readers and recommending books, too. After all, if I don't know my books and my readers, who will?
For further reading on this topic, you might want to check out Chapter 4 of More Than Guided Reading, which is titled "Book Selection - Less Leveling, More Focused Choice." (The rest of Cathy's book is phenomenal, too!) Another of my favorite books which pushed my thinking on this topic is Beyond Leveled Books: Supporting Early and Transitional Readers in Grades K-5.
As always, I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on this!