As a teacher who uses a literature based curriculum I spend a lot of time with books; Reading books, buying books, sharing books, finding books. At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter how good I am, it’s the books. Not just the books though, the articles too. There’s so much to think about! Here are some questions that I ask myself when choosing books to use for instructional materials whether they be read aloud books, book club books, independent reading books, or the occasional whole class novel. To be fair I also apply these to articles for shorter instructional sessions.
- Where does this book or text best fit? Will it appeal to many readers or a small subset?
- What is the level of this text? How many of my readers will be able to access this text independently?
- How does this text fit into my year long curricular goals? Does it have a particular theme? Connect with a set of book clubs books that I already have?
- What might I teach with this text? Where can I see it fitting in? A strategy lesson? A craft lesson for writing? A shared read aloud for social studies?
- How does this text support my goals of providing diverse literature selections in my classroom? Does it represent a culture that I may not have represented or would it complement a set I already have?
- Is there something extra special about this text? Does it make me laugh out loud? Have beautiful illustrations? Inspire me to know more?
- What is the support level needed for this text? Will my students have prior knowledge about this issue, topic, genre, or story type? Would they benefit form more support or could they comprehend it independently?
- Is this the type of book that leaves you changed as a reader?
The last one is one of the most important questions I ask myself because If I’m going to select a book for students either to read aloud or offer for book clubs I want it to be life changing. (That doesn’t mean they will see it that way….but I try!) Choosing texts for the classroom is a serious job and one that should be done with enjoyment. After all, if you don’t read chances are your students won’t either. But who doesn’t love to read?