Many, many years ago I was a presenter for Project Construct. I had a super responsibility of teaching Missouri teachers about how to incorporate Readers’, Writers’ and Math Workshop into their classroom routine. It was during this time that I learned about “nightstand books” and TBR piles. Oh, you know, that 12-inch stack of books that sit next to your bed so you have them ready to go when you have a few minutes to read before bed?
Well, often my pile sits elsewhere than my nightstand, but for sure it’s always there. And sometimes it’s taller than 12-inches. Like in the summer when it’s about as tall as my 5-YO (she’s 40 inches right now, by the way. 🙂 ). My current TBR pile looks like this:
Anyhow, after we had learned about recipes and how they help guide us with book choices, we talked about something else readers do–make plans. I started our conversation by asking a simple question: Why do people make plans? I didn’t specifically say readers at this point because I wanted them to think broader and try not to guess my specific plan for the day just yet. Kids turned and talked to their partners and came up with SUPER ideas. They connected this to how builders use blueprints and how important those are to making the building look “right” in the end. They mentioned how writers make plans so they know what their stories are supposed to be (can you tell what we’ve been doing in Writers’ Workshop lately?). They talked about how plans keep your organized and help you know what to do.
After that great start, it was easy to then expand the idea to how readers make plans for what they will read next. This allows them to move smoothly from one book to another, without wasting reading time wandering around the library. It helps readers think critically about what they want to read and why (I explained to my kiddos why each of those books is in my pile), and to be more purposeful in their choices. This becomes especially easy if you choose books that are in a series, or if you “trust an author” and read all the books that they’ve written. I can TOTALLY do this with Ralph Fletcher, Sharon Creech, Jerry Spinelli, Joan Bauer and Liane Moriarty.
Kiddos had a great time trying out this strategy, and then send me their lists when they were finished. We’re going to use them now and I plan to hold kids accountable to try out the books they put on their list. While they can change, these piles (which are saved as pictures/notes on their iPads) help them think ahead and more purposefully use their time both in the classroom and at home. I’m excited to see how they continue to help us grow as readers through this year and even beyond!