If your school requires that you keep track of students’ independent reading, if you want to encourage budding new readers with choice reading, or you want to reward students for doing copious amounts of reading outside of the required homework, I’ve mostly found the whole thing to be super onerous to keep track of. I’ve struggled with reconciling the need to hold students accountable without taxing them too much and ruining an experience that’s supposed to be fun and encourage a lifelong love of books.
I’ve slowly ebbed and flowed between different amounts of paperwork attached to independent reading, hoping to find a sweet spot that made the activity meaningful, but not tedious. This year’s competition has been the most successful yet.
I’m sure that I will continue to search for perfection, and agonize over all the words students have claimed to have read, but may have possibly gotten away with not reading, but the attitude toward reading has so far been the most positive in all my ten years of assigning independent reading.
Here’s what I did:
I chose a theme based on one of my all time favorite books, The City of Dreaming Books (The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books is actually the sequal, but it fit the theme better), by Walter Moers.
I created a huge maze on my bulletin board for students to keep track of the pages they read.
During the first week of school, one of the ice-breaker activities we did was to make a “monster” for the independent reading competition. Each students made his or hers and I laminated them to use as game pieces to move along the labyrinth each week.
I check their independent reading logs once a week while they are working on bellwork or another independent activity.
Then we take a few minutes to move our monsters along the labyrinth!
I have to admit, it’s really a re-packaged independent reading competition, but my students seem to be reading more than previous years, and they have a positive attitude about it too!
If you’re not averse to materials rewards, you can attach certain prizes to special benchmarks in the maze. My favorite is free printable bookmarks; you can even personalize them!