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Going viral: Finding books that even your struggling readers will love

Posted by Marygrove MAT on May 30, 2013 9:40:00 AM

There’s nothing like seeing students lose themselves in a book. Even better is watching a new book go “viral”: one student checks the book out of the classroom library, reads it, passes it on to a friend and on it goes until nearly everyone in the classroom is talking about it. When the book finally makes its way back to the shelf, it is so warn out and well-loved that it nearly flakes away in your palm like ash. 

struggling readers

Finding those kinds of books—the ones your students can’t put down—is challenging, but it just got easier thanks to Brian Wilhorn’s website, Help Readers Love Reading.

Help Readers Love Reading recommends classroom-friendly books—that is, books students want to read without being coerced. Before he recommends books, Wilhorn’s students weigh in. If they don’t like it, he’s not going to recommend it. Here are other criteria he uses when selecting books:

1. Familiar stories. Stories children can easily imagine themselves into or with characters that could be seated next to them.

2. Series books. Not all of them, of course, but quality books with sequels that have built in continuing motivation.

3. Funny books. If a book makes a kid laugh out loud, other kids will want to know what's going on. The reader gets attention. The book gets attention.

4. Other books by the same author. If kids like Andrew Clements' school stories, well guess what? He's got plenty of others. How many kids read Gary Paulsen and think, "Well, that was fine, but one survival story is enough, thank you very much." Right. Not many.

5. Books where good is good and bad is bad. If a character is truly evil, kids will read just to see that character get what's coming. And if a good character is held down, the reward is even bigger when that character finally succeeds.

6. The "You Gotta Hear This!" factor. Any book that gets kids up off their seat to tell you what they just read has it. It could be newly learned information or a shocking revelation or the funniest thing that ever happened.

7. Miscellaneous and unclassifiable. This one is so mysterious I can't even describe it, but if a book's got it, it's got it.

If you’re looking for another place to find books your students will love, check out one of our blogs, “Reading Teachers: Book Wink has heard your students’ cries for help.”


Guide to Reading Comprehension

Tags: reading strategies, reading motivation, reading specialist, struggling readers, reading strategy, struggling reader

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