Sunday, August 16, 2015

Take Home Reading Bags - The Good and The Bad

I'm going to be completely honest here. I avoided take home reading bags for the first 7 years of my career. If I didn't know better, I would STILL be avoiding them. Unfortunately (for me) and fortunately (for my students) I now use them beginning week 2 each year. Here's a peek at my huge pile of 52 reading bags and my cute labels!


Over the years, I've learned just how valuable take home reading bags really are to my students (sigh). I'm going to outline what I've learned below and MAYBE I'll convince you to take the plunge and give it a try too!

The Good:
1. Students are always reading at the appropriate level! In my classroom, students choose 4 "just right" free choice books and 4 leveled books. We use these both in the classroom and at home, so students have a chance to read and reread books that are at their appropriate level.
2. Each week, students get to choose fresh, new reading materials! In our room, each student has a day to go book "shopping". It's like going to the library, but right in our classroom. It's a very exciting day!
3. The teacher has a hand in choosing the books! I love this because I can help students choose books that fit the topic we're studying or their interests.
4. All children have books to read at home! Let's face it, sadly some kids don't have access to books at home. With reading bags, it's equal access for all students. Plus, there is no excuse for missing reading minutes on homework!
5. Reading bags make things easier for parents! There's no searching for books that are appropriate for their child.

The Bad:
1. More books get wrecked. The honest truth: have the tape and staples ready. Our book hospital is typically overflowing. I try to contain this the best I can by spending a lot of time going over the procedures of taking care of our reading bags from the first day I pass them out.

2. The teacher has to take the time to watch over student while they are "book shopping". The honest truth: this takes up a lot of time at the beginning of the year. That being said, I typically stop overseeing their shopping after week 2 or 3. I also tell parents to let me know if they ever notice their child is choosing books that aren't a "good fit". There is always that struggling reader who is dying to move onto chapter books!

To sum things up, I highly recommend using take home reading bags. Although it can be a bit more work, I find that it pays off double in student reading growth!

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