Helping students to find a book that they can confidently read and are interested in can be a challenge. To help students achieve this goal, I like to teach them the 'I Pick a Just Right Book' method.

What is it? Each of the letters in the words 'I PICK' stands for a different strategy students can use in order to successfully locate a book to suit their needs.

I- I choose a just right book- this means a book that is just right for the individual student. I like to highlight here how a book that is just right for one person may not be just right for another (e.g just because you're best friends does not mean you will have the same reading interests and skill level).
Purpose- What is my purpose for reading? Am I looking to be entertained, am I reading for enjoyment,  or am I reading to be informed? I then talk about fiction and non-fiction books and how non-fiction books are more likely to inform us. I tell students that enjoyment can come from both fiction and non-fiction books depending on their interests.

Interest- Does this book interest me? I usually examine a book with the class here. We look at the cover, read the title, examine the author's name- maybe it's an author we know and love! Read the blurb ( a great opportunity to introduce this word if student's aren't familiar with it), flick through the book and look at the pictures. Does this book look interesting? Yes- then move on. No- then put it back and choose another.

Comprehend- Can I comprehend the text? I like to explain to my lower students that this just means 'Can I understand what the words are saying? Can I make a picture in my head of what I am reading?'. If the answer is no, then the book is too hard. Try again and choose another book.

Know- Do I know the words? If I know most of the words then I have found my just right book. If not, then this one is simply too hard. When discussing this I like to refer to the 'Five Finger Rule', which I will discuss next. 

The Five Finger Rule

This is another topic that I spend a lesson on when I am teaching my 'Just Right Book' unit. I break down the poster (above) to my class, telling them it is a good guideline to use when the are searching for their just right book.
They need to choose a book, open to any page. For each word they don't know, put up a finger. If they get to 5 or more words then the book is too hard. We are ideally looking for 1-2 words that they don't know so the book challenges them somewhat.

 It's the cutest thing when I see them searching for a book with their fist up, a little finger popping up for each word they are unfamiliar with.
Before I let them loose on the library I model this skill. I love to get a book and demonstrate to my students what it looks like when a book is 'too hard', 'too easy' and 'just right'. I typically do this by reading a page from the same book aloud three times- once rushing through it as it is 'too easy', once stumbling and tripping over the text, getting many words wrong as it is 'too hard', and once getting 1-2 words wrong but generally doing a good job as it is 'just right'.
Now it's the students turn! For my lower grades (K-1) I pair them up and have them do a 'scavenger hunt' for a just right book. We come back to the carpet after 5 minutes or so and share our 'just right' books with the class.
With 2nd grade and higher I like to give them a mini clipboard, pencil and checklist where they have to assess 3 books to see whether they are 'just right' for them or not.

Resources for Teaching a 'Just Right Book' Unit

When teaching this unit I like to use the following resources:

  • The book 'We're Going on a Book Hunt' by Pat Miller is a favorite of mine to introduce this unit. I always love beginning a unit with a book to engage students and get them thinking.
  • 'Five Finger Rule' and 'I PICK' Posters. I print these in a large size, laminate them and put them on my bulletin board so I can constantly refer to these during my lessons.
  • No Prep Printables that relate to the 'Just Right Book' unit. I use these to reinforce concepts with my mini clipboards (great if you don't have any tables/ desks in your library).
  • Bookmarks- I print out bookmarks on the 'I Pick' strategies and the 'Five Finger Rule' so students can keep and refer to these during their borrowing time.

  • The handouts, posters and printables can be found in my 'Just Right Book Pack' unit.
    You can also grab this unit as part of a bundle HERE.

I hope these tips have helped you. Feel free to leave me any ideas  you use when teaching this unit, I would love to hear them.

Now that it's the summer break there are plenty of hours to fill each day. What better way to reduce the summer slide than to encourage children to read books that they find engaging and are actually excited about. Here are my top Summer Reads for students.
Don't forget to grab your free Summer Reading Bingo printable at the bottom of the page!

1. The Treehouse Series by Andy Griffiths 
This has to be one of the most popular books in my library! I have multiple copies of each book and they are always loaned out. The series starts with 'The 13 Storey Treehouse' and is currently at 'The 78 Storey Treehouse'. 'The 91 Storey Treehouse' is just about to be released and I know it will be hot property as soon as it hits the shelves.  Kids find these books hilarious and the illustrations by Terry Denton complement the text perfectly.

2. Dog Man- Dave Pilkey
From the author of Captain Underpants comes Dave Pilkey's latest creation- Dog Man! This book is silly, funny and perfect for anyone who loves a laugh. The story is in colored graphic novel form, which is ideal for the reluctant reader. We just purchased these for the library and I fully anticipate them flying off the shelf!

3. Harry Potter- J.K Rowling
Now we all know and love Harry Potter, and if you have an avid fan in your home or library, chances are they will have devoured the entire series. For something a little different there are a couple of new Harry Potter reads on offer. First we have the illustrated edition of Harry Potter. How amazing is that? They are being released in sequence and the next one out is 'The Prisoner of Azkaban'.
Next, you can get the original Harry Potter novel, but now in house colors! Choose from Slytherin, Griffindor, Hufflepuff or Raven Claw depending on which house your loyalty lies according to the sorting hat.

4. The Bad Guys- Aaron Blabey
'The Bad Guys' is a series from one of my favorite authors- Aaron Blabey. He has written some of my most loved picture books, but this book is another that I cannot keep on the shelf in my library. Another hilarious series with a bunch of animal misfits that will keep you laughing. There are currently five books in the series, the latest being 'Intergalactic Gas'.

5. The Babysitters Club GRAPHIC NOVEL-  Gale Calligan and Ann M. Martin
Who didn't love reading the Babysitters Club back in the 80's and 90's. I think I must have read every book detailing the babysitting antics of Kristy, Claudia, Dawn and the rest of the gang. Well, I have to admit, the few copies we have of the BSC on our shelves in the library don't get much traction. But new life has been breathed into these old stories by revamping them as graphic novels! Genius! Great for reluctant readers and we all know how popular graphic novels have become. I have actually purchased some of these for our school library and I am really interested in seeing if their popularity increases!
6. The Misadventures of Max Crumbly-Rachel Renee Russell
This is the latest series from Dork Diaries author Rachel Renee Russell. Max Crumbly is a middle school student who manages to get himself into rather sticky situations. A great book for boys and girls alike.

7. A Different Dog- Paul JenningsI absolutely adore Paul Jennings and this short story written by him was engaging and thought provoking from the minute I picked it up. A story about a boy who is down on his luck, a unusual dog and an unlikely adventure. Definitely find place in your school, classroom or home for this one. A perfect summer read!

I hope my list of summer reads has given you a little inspiration for your summer student reading list or maybe some potential purchases to enhance your collection.

To encourage student reading over the summer break, grab my free Summer Read Library Bingo printable HERE.

For more fun summer themed resources, check out the following products:

I'd love to hear your suggestions for summer reading!

I always like to start the school year off by teaching book care to my students.  I  like to think that if they know how to treat their books with respect I have more chance of them being returned the same way they were loaned out!
I'm going to share with you some tried and tested lesson ideas, books and resources that I love to use.

Lesson Ideas
Hands on lessons are always a student favorite. They're fun, they're engaging and they get the message across. They usually take a little more organization, but you will hopefully have most of these things laying around your classroom or library.
My absolute favorite lesson to teach the lower grades is: 'Library Do's or Don'ts'
This is what you will need:
2 boxes that say 'do' and 'don't'

 Then, I have a bunch of items that represent book care do's, such as:
- Book mark
- Library bag (this depends if you use them in your library)
- Library card
- Hand soap (to represent washing your hands so they are nice and clean before reading)

And of course, items to represent book care don'ts, such as:
- Food
- Drinks
- Markers
- A toy dog (to represent a pet)
- A baby doll (to represent a baby sibling playing with your library books.) Whenever this one comes out, the students all laugh and squeal with delight!

I place all of the items inside my 'mystery bucket', and choose one student at a time to come out and take a lucky dip out of the bucket.

Then they must decide whether the object belongs in the 'do's' or 'don'ts' container.
If you're running short on time, you can have hold each item up and choose individual students to answer whether it's a book care 'do' or 'don't' instead of calling students up.
The students love this activity and it always seems to stick with them.

Another hands on activity that I love to use is my Book Care Do's & Don'ts Matching Cards.
I laminate these and store in mini zip lock bags. I make up enough for students to share 1 between 2. It's a quick and easy activity for students to consolidate their knowledge. A bonus is the activity is reusable, so you can pull it out for all your classes year after year!

Books on 'Book Care'
In addition to hands on lessons, I like to read students stories about book care. My favorites are:


1. Read It, Don't Eat It by Ian Schoenherr- This is a cute book about book care. It focuses about things you should and should not do with your library books. It's quite short- which is great if you're running low on time, or can always be extended with some of the tricky words in there (deface, delete, censor).

2. Never Let a Ghost Borrow Your Library Book by Karen Casale and Cecilia Rebora-   Oh this book is great! Perfect for 2nd & 3rd grade in particular as they really seem to love the 'secret agent' theme running through this book. This one is a little longer, and I absolutely love it.

3. Manners with a Library Book by Amanda Doering Tourville and Chris Lensch - This book shares with the students the basics of book care in a really straight forward manner. Best for Prep/Kindergarten and 1st Grade.

4. Splat the Cat and the Library Book by Rob Scotton- This one does not go through the basics of book care, but it's still a fun story about returning your library books on time. Who can resist Splat the Cat really?

Resources and Posters on Book Care
When teaching my book care unit, I like to have a bulletin board with posters on the topic that I can easily refer to while I'm teaching. I typically use my posters from my book care unit.

I also have a few go to no prep printables that I like to use for the lower years. I typically will copy them in a half size (two to a page) to save on paper and have my students complete them using mini clip boards.

At the end of the unit I always like to make copies of my Book Care bookmarks and hand these out as a little reminder.


All of the items (and more) are available in my Book Care Pack found HERE. Or you can also grab this resource as part of my 'Library Skills Bundle' available HERE.

I am always looking for fun and new ideas to mix things up, so if you have some great book care tips, feel free to share them in the comments.

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