Instead of just telling my students to go and shop for books, I wanted to provide some guidance as they explored our library in search of books to add to their TBR lists. As I model my reading life for my students, an aspect of that I share frequently is that I enjoy cultivating a list of books I want to read, books of all kinds. This list is a blend of recommendations, forthcoming books, favorite authors, books for when I feel a certain way or am seeking to get lost in a certain kind of story, books that connect to a time in history that interests me, or books that challenge my way of thinking, or allow me to understand points of view outside of my own experience. This list is uniquely me, and I want the books my students read to be uniquely them. So, we set off to scavenge the stacks with the goal of starting or enhancing a TBR list.
Time: Students had about 30 minutes for their scavenger hunts. An alternative would be to make this part of a challenge for kids each time their class visits the library. For example: during library business, add 2 books to your TBR list: 1 free choice, and 1 book that might make you laugh.
Collaborate: I encouraged students to help each other. Show each other books they enjoyed from these categories. Suddenly, the avid readers became really popular and in demand as they were asked by their peers for their recommendations.
This is also a great opportunity to involve any staff in your building, or older students. Ask your principal, ask your literacy coach, for example, and if students in another grade level are available, arrange for them to come and make recommendations, too!
Share: We gathered again as a class to check in and share. We did a turn and talk so that students could show their lists to others around them, and I did a quick group share, calling on volunteers to share the book they were most excited about finding today for their TBR list.
Now, what?: Students are encouraged to bring this list on each library day because there are multiple opportunities to grow this TBR list even more. From the book talks I share, to the ones from their teachers and classmates, to books they see at the book fair, the book suggestions are plenty!
What I learned: When I do this lesson again, I will expand the categories and ask for student input and ELA teacher input on the categories. Students will be encouraged to find a book for as many categories as they choose. Then throughout the year, I may add a new category and make it a challenge for their library business time, which helps them re-visit their lists and continue to grow them.
Also, the beauty of this is it’s a differentiated activity by nature. Students bring a wide variety of reading interests, abilities to the table. Some students added multiple books per category, and some added 1 per category, or only 2-3 books total. And that’s ok. This gives their ELA teacher and me an idea of the level of support the students need. There are students with voracious reading appetites who will challenge me to constantly provide and recommend books that keep them reading, and I see students who feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. And that’s what I’m here for. To guide all of these readers, meeting them where they are and helping them grow to their potential while they are in my care.