I sat down today to do reading conferences, unsure who I was going to start with on my list. I love it, though, when a kid comes at just the right time with just the right question to help me make my decision!
So enter my friend, D. She came over to me and asked a simple question: “Do you have any good books?”
I LOVE it when a kiddo asks me this question, because it means I can do something to help get the right book in their hands. So we sat together and started talking about recipes.
Yep, you read it right–recipes. We started with background, whether or not she had ever cooked before. She told me about how she had just made brownies, and so we discussed how a recipe helps you make sure you end up with the product you wanted–a recipe for brownies helps you end up with brownies if you follow the steps.
So D and I started writing her “Recipe For a Good Book.” The idea behind this is that you can use things that you already know you like as a foundation for finding new things you’ll also like. The end product is the “good book,” and the recipe is how to get there. Just like how brownie mix + eggs + oil = brownies.
We talked about some of her favorite books, and she told me she really enjoyed Fudge. So we started her recipe with Fudge and Judy Blume. When I asked her what she liked about it, she said she liked it because is was funny because of the kids. So we added funny and kids as main characters to our recipe. I got her thinking about some other favorites and she mentioned Ramona. We talked about how there were some similarities between Ramona books and Fudge books, and so it makes sense that she’d love both! Next we added Ramona, Beverly Cleary and family stories to our recipe. After some more thinking and reflecting, we ended up with a list that looked like this (after she made it into a bookmark):
Once we had the recipe, we tried it out together. We have a basket in our classroom that’s for GOOD BOOKS (some of my favorites that I’ve put together in a collection), so I figured it was a good place to start. Immediately we found three books that we thought would fit her recipe really well:
The Zebra Wall by Kevin Henkes, Ramona Forever by Beverly Cleary and Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
By going down her list of ingredients for a good book, we realized that all of these were good options for my friend! They had many things that she was looking for, and they were a good fit for her reading level. Success!
The original idea for this came out of a conference I had with a student almost 3 years ago, and it has been appropriate for so many more readers since then. I love getting the right book into the hands of a kid reader, and better yet, she has a plan for when she goes book shopping next time. It’s a win-win. 🙂