Monday, July 21, 2014

Good Fit Books and A FREE Craftivity for the Beginning of the Year

Summer break is winding down.  It's been a good run, but it's just about time to get back to business.  Time to put classrooms back together, dust off the book shelves, organize, and plan for the many lessons to come.
One lesson I teach during the first week of school is how to pick an appropriate book, what the authors of The Daily 5 refer to as a Good Fit Book.  Whether you use The Daily 5 or some other literacy model, it is very challenging to teach young learners how to pick a book that is appropriate.
The Daily 5 outlines a fun lesson using shoes to explain how to pick Good Fit Books.  (If you would like to read a brief description of this lesson, you can click here.  Also included in this post is a FREE anchor chart for Good Fit Books.)
The shoe lesson is fun and a great starting point for teaching students about Good Fit Books, but if you have young readers, don't be fooled into thinking that this lesson is the end of the story.  In most cases, helping students select appropriate books will be on your plate for the rest of the year.  That is why you should arm yourself with a library of read alouds that make it easier to explain how readers pick suitable books and and why it's important.
Some books that I like to have on hand for teaching about Good Fit Books are:  Born to Read by Judy Sierra, Dog in Boots by Greg Gormley, Wild About Books also by Judy Sierra, How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills, Reading Makes You Feel Good by Todd Parr, Shoes for Me! by Sue Fliess, and The Best Book to Read by Debbie Bertram & Susan Bloom.

These books give explanations why it's important to read.  They also show how differences in personal interests can shape what we read.  You can use these books throughout the entire year.  Remember, book choice will likely be an ongoing topic with your students.
With that being said, Shoes for Me! and Dog in Boots are great read alouds early on since they both feature shoes and illustrate how a choice should be based on a purpose.  
Purpose is one of the key factors in choosing books.  It answers the question "Why do I want to read this book?"  You may have to give students some examples of the purposes for reading books:  to become a better reader, to learn something new, to have fun, to find information, and so on.  Your young learners need to understand that they should have a purpose when they pick books to read.
I created a cute and FREE craftivity to use with Dog in Boots.  You can have your own copy of this activity by clicking on the picture below.

The pattern for this activity is ready to print.  There are three book options for the pup to hold.  Two of the books highlight the idea of purpose in reading.  The third book is blank for you to use as you would like.

Now for a couple of related side notes . . .
If you are using The Daily 5 in your class, I'm sure you know about Check for Understanding as a comprehension skill.  In the first edition of The Daily 5, the authors described wooden check marks (I think a friend made them.) that the students hold during Read to Someone as reminder to Check for Understanding.  I don't know about you, but my woodworking skills are nonexistent.  So, I've never had that visual and kinesthetic reminder for my students, until now.
In the second edition of The Daily 5 the authors share a source for Check for Understanding check marks.  I searched Amazon and score!  I have my own class set.  They are called Check-A-Roo and are sold in sets of six.  I ordered two sets and that should be plenty.  Fingers crossed that they'll remind my kids to Check for Understanding.

One other goodie I'll be using during the first days of school is my set of The Daily Five Trace and Read Mini Books.  There is a mini book for each component of The Daily 5 with I Can statements outlining basic procedures.  These mini books are perfect for early in the year independent student work and an effective way to communicate to parents the basic expectations of The Daily 5.  Click on the picture for more information.

I hope some of these suggestions and activities are helpful as you start back to school.  If you have any questions, please email me.  Thanks so much for stopping by.


  1. Hi Amber,
    What a helpful post! I am off to Amazon to check out those books now. I agree that it's important to review how to select a good-fit book with students throughout the year.
    I made a Check for Understanding bookmark for my kiddos a while back (I do not have wood working skills either!) They keep them in their book box and use them during read to self.
    Here's the link if you're interested:
    Launching Read to Self
    Thanks again for sharing,
    Creating a Thoughtful Classroom

  2. Thanks for the book suggestions, some of these are new to me so I need to go check them out : )