As I prepare for the new school year, I’ve been trying to think of new ways to encourage my students to read a larger variety of books. Since I started teaching third grade, I used a reading challenge that had the students read at least three books each quarter and report on them. If they did, we had a reading celebration at the end of the month. This worked well to encourage my students to read more books, but it didn’t encourage them to try different genres. I would often get three Geronimo Stilton reports from one child for the month. Don’t get me wrong. . .I’m extremely happy that they were reading. However, they often got “stuck” on one series and didn’t try anything else.
I knew I wanted to do something that would go along with the nature theme at my school this year. Then, I thought of a rainbow – a different color for each genre. That would also make a nice display for the hallway to go with our theme. I started by cutting construction paper strips in each color of the rainbow. Then, I taped them in a rainbow shape on blue paper and made clouds with the question, “Can You Read the Rainbow?” Since rainbows make me thing of leprechauns, I put a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I filled it with coins labeled with the “treasures” that come from reading – better fluency, a love of reading, and a few others. I was really happy with the way the display looked.
Next, I organized my classroom library by genre. I made little signs with rainbow borders to label each section of the library. This way the students will be able to easily identify what type of books they are choosing. I also put a sticker on the corner of the cover of each book so it will (hopefully) be returned to the correct place.
Like the previous reading challenge I used, I wanted there to be some type of accountability. I didn’t want my students saying they had finished books just to complete the challenge. However, I didn’t want them to have to do a full book report. The purpose of the challenge is to help them learn to love reading more. Writing a long report on each book would kill that love of reading quickly. I created an online log where students will record the book title and the pages they read reach day. At the end of the cycle, they will reflect on their reading that week.
In addition to the reading log, they will complete a quick two question ticket. They just need to tell why the book fits into the genre and whether or not they would recommend that book to a friend. As the students turn these in, I will display them in the hallway so other classes can see their recommendations, too. When a student has read a book from each genre, he/she will receive a certificate and a bookmark.
Now my only problem was that “Reading the Rainbow” only meant reading 7 books. Some of my students could legitimately do that in under a month. Then what? I decided to take it one step further and make it a whole class challenge as well. When a student turns in a book ticket, he/she will receive a paper strip that matches the genre of the book. We will use those strips to create a paper chain. The challenge is to make the paper chain stretch across the classroom. When the class achieves that, we will have a reading party where they can bring in pillows and stuffed animals to read with for the afternoon. We’ll see how many times they can make the chain stretch around the room this year.
If you would like to have your class “Read the Rainbow,” you can download everything you need at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. The product includes the clouds saying “Can You Read the Rainbow?” the coins for the pot of gold, rainbow genre posters, rainbow labels for your classroom library, reading response tickets, and a checklist for you to keep track of what students have read. I hope you and your students have fun “Reading the Rainbow”!
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