What’s in Your TBR Pile?

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:

IMG_1175 2-min

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!


2 thoughts on “What’s in Your TBR Pile?

  1. I asked the kids to help me find our next read aloud. They spent time thinking about books that hook them and why. They also thought about books they have been wanting to read, but just haven’t gotten to. It was so cool because they came up with lists for themselves in the process. One kiddo headed to the library and checked out three on his list and asked that I not read any of them to the class until he had a chance to read them himself. I know this doesn’t really follow the recipe, but I think it is connected. Thank you for sharing this (and the previous posts). Oh and my TBR stack is pretty tall too. Need to get to work on those.

    • That totally fits the recipe! The best part of it all is the thinking. In my opinion, any question that gets kids really thinking about books is the “right” one. Glad to know your class helps you think through your read alouds like that and love that it then connected to their independent reading as well. Got to see some of my kiddos using their TBR piles today and it was heartwarming. Oh, and I just got back from the library, so there are 5 new books on my pile now. Not sure when I’m going to have time to read them all! Oh wait–got another one at Barnes and Noble on Saturday. So 6 more I guess. Maybe I should take a day off….hee hee Thanks for reading and thanks for your comment!

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