Research shows that students are more apt and able to read a book if they self-select it. Research shows they are more motivated to read a book on a topic that is of particular interest to them (not the adults around them), even though the book may not be one that a teacher deems as the child’s “reading level.” When children are free to self-select books based on things, activities, hobbies, places, people, animals and topics THEY like, they are likely to stick with the book.
As teachers, we often ask parents to complete surveys on behalf of their children, or share with us, what it is their children like, however, when teachers take the time to casually and informally talk to students and ask them what they like, then teachers are more aware of their students as readers and can help students who are still trying to develop their reading identity, by pushing books in their direction, based on the topics they have shared with us that they find interesting.
These simple, yet effective interest interviews take about 1-2 minutes per child to complete. You can do them before the bell rings as students are coming into the classroom in the morning or as a beginning of the year reading conference. You can do them standing up or sitting down. I personally like to sit down with the child by my side so we are on the same level. I prefer to go to child instead of having the child come to me. It’s quite simple. You will ask the student “Tell me some things you like.” As the student thinks and talks, write down 5-6 topics on the line next to their name. Work hard *not* to supply topics for them. If they cannot produce but one or two things they like, ask them “What animals do you like?” or “What’s something you think is really cool?”
Then, once you know student interests, you can spend money on Scholastic book points, purchasing books that you know your students will like. Students will be very impressed when a couple weeks later you say, “Jennifer, I found a book about motorcycles that I think you’re really going to love!!! I’m going to check in with you tomorrow and you can let me know how you like it.”
You are free to share this work in your school, district, workshop or presentation with attribution to Jen Jones of Hello Literacy. Fonts by AG Fonts, clipart by Create the Cut.
Jen Jones, Hello Literacy
2017,Copyright under Creative Commons. Copyright by me and permission to use with attribution, not for commercial use and Share-Alike.