Guest blog: Finding the right reading partner

March 31st, 2011

While reading might be a solitary activity, it is also a social one. Sharing books with friends and talking about great books are all part of a “readerly” life. In this guest blog by fourth-grade teacher Gresham Brown, we find out how his students find reading partners in the classroom through reading partner interviews.

During the first nine weeks of school, our readers’ workshop is focused on one big question – What does it mean to live a readerly life?  We learn that reading is thinking, and we learn how to choose good books.  We learn how to increase our reading stamina and identify favorite genres.  But we also learn that living a readerly life is a very social process.

Readers are constantly sharing their reading lives with others.  When readers experience an incredible book, they want to put it in the hands of a good friend.  They want to talk about it and experience the book with a fellow reader.  Too often, students see reading as a very independent activity.  It’s not.  I want my classroom to be a place where we are constantly talking about books, sharing books, and recommending books to our friends.

To facilitate this idea, I ask my students to find a reading partner — a classroom friend they can meet with once or twice a week to talk about books.  Reading partners may decide to read a book together or simply share their reading lives with each other.  The idea is to find someone who has the same reading interests, enjoys the same genres and authors, and reads the same kind of just right books.  I stress to the students that a reading partner is not always a close friend – a reading partner is someone who is a very similar kind of reader.

First, I ask each student to assemble a stack of books that represents their reading lives.  I then model how to conduct an effective reading interview, how to ask good questions and find strong connections.  When everyone is ready, I give students time to walk around the room and interview each other.

After 30 minutes of interview time, I ask students to write down their top three choices for a reading partner.  Using their suggestions, I match the kids into partnerships.  I’m always amazed at how honest the kids are with each other.  They recognize that everyone in the classroom is a different kind of reader, and they’re honest about who would be a good fit for them.

Reading partners begin meeting once or twice a week at the end of independent reading to discuss books.  I love watching kids during this time.  I hear things like, “You’ve GOT to read this book!”  I see kids adding titles to their “Books to Read” list based on their partner’s recommendation.  I hear kids laughing and sharing about a funny part they just read.  I see kids doing what real readers do – experiencing books with their friends.

The following video clip showcases students having reading interviews with each other.

Entry Filed under: Reading

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Debra Schneider  |  April 1st, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    Thank you for sharing this creative idea. I will adopt it as part of my my high school seniors’ reading class.

  • 2. marilyn  |  April 2nd, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    very interesting literacy strategy! I think I may try it soon in my class…grade 6.
    Thanks for the video and information.

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