Friday, August 12, 2011

D5: Just Right Books

I am rereading The Daily 5 by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser to think about the upcoming school year. In the 3rd chapter: What's the Difference: Key Materials, Concepts, and Routines for Launching the Daily 5, one of the topics the authors discuss is " just right books".

They use the acronym "I PICK" which stands for I choose, Purpose, Interest, Comprehend, and Know (words). I like this as a teacher, but have found it to be too much for my 1st graders. They give an example of finding just right books through a lesson about shoes. It is a really cute lesson and I have had classes that have loved it. I also have had classes that look at me like I am insane! I do talk with my students about choosing just right books, but part of me thinks this is a difficult concept at any age, so I do not focus on it too much. I know parents have tons of questions about choosing JR books, too.

Amanda from One Extra Degree posted a great complimentary acronym: C.O.W. that makes the whole concept of choosing just right books a bit more manageable. Check out her great idea and poster!

One Extra Degree

I have also used the whole Goldilocks idea to choose books that are just right. I have found myself revisiting this in the late fall when we really are into reading and students are making rapid progress with their skills. I think that it is most important to acquaint my students with books that are at their skill level before jumping into teaching them to choose "just right books." I like doing this after kicking off guided reading groups.

We also talk about reading books through reading pictures and reading words as part of D5. While I introduce this concept, I think it is a bit of a contradiction to focus on such a specific way to choose a "just right" book and I am not sure that they have the foundation quite yet and they can gain great deal from reading the pictures. I'm still thinking this through.

In my classroom, I had 2 libraries last year. One was our classroom library and the other was a "Just Right Library." We use DRA levels in my district and they become a HUGE focus for students and families. To minimize this in the classroom, my "Just Right Library" is leveled by Fountas and Pinnell or guided reading level. I tell the students which basket they are choosing from each week in their reading group. They choose 5 books from the "Just Right Library" for the week and 2 from our classroom library for their book boxes.

The "Just Right Library"
(I plan to redo the labels this summer.)

How do you teach students about choosing books at their level?


  1. Christine, This will be my second year with D5 in my first grade classroom. I too struggled with the IPICK acronym-just didn't pack enough punch with my kids. We used the 'finger' method for the just right books-however I rarely saw them using that independently when they book shopped. The idea of having a leveled library as well is a good one. The problem I am coming across is having ample supply of leveled books to offer. I am going to have to use the readers that come with our 'basal,' in order to provide enough for the whole class. I was thinnking to start the year with 2 just right books and 3 from the classroom library. We'll see. Thanks for your input. Karen :)

  2. Thanks for the comment! I hunt for books at library sales when they have their bags sales and looked through all of the cast-offs that teachers get rid of at the end/beginning of the year. I am surprised, but I have built up a pretty big collection! Reading A to Z is a great resource too, if your school subscribes to it.