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Recently, my staff has had many discussions about the books we are reading in our classrooms. Books our students read on their own, books we use for shared readings, and books we read aloud to our students. As we have adopted the Common Core, we are paying more attention to book choices we make and help our students make as well. We are working towards making sure the books we choose to read are complex texts that help prepare our students for college and career readiness. A text’s complexity is evaluated by looking at aspects such as structure, language, and background knowledge demands. It also takes into consideration who will be reading the text.
One of our conversations led to the fact that multiple teachers are reading some of the same books to their students in different grade levels and find that they are complex texts for both. For example, some students hear the book Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White read to them aloud in first grade and then read it themselves in fourth grade. While initially some teachers were apprehensive about the idea of multiple readings of the same text in different grades, many teachers discussed the idea that students would be learning different things from reading Charlotte’s Web in first and fourth grade. The focus and purpose for reading the books would most likely be different. Hearing or reading a text more than once should be something that students do often, whether it is in the same grade level or different grade levels. I believe multiple readings of the same text benefits students and helps them grow as readers.
I enjoy reading books more than once. In my own experience, each time I reread a book I have previously read, I catch new things that I didn’t pay attention to before, better understand the author’s intentions, and my comprehension about the subject increases. As first graders, I ask students in my class read books more than once to help increase their fluency rate and comprehension. While some students would prefer to run straight back to the library for a new book as soon as they finish once, I find that my students are able to discuss the book with more detail and read it smoothly after the second time. This usually ends up with my students enjoying the books they choose more and they can’t wait to have a reading conference with me to show how smoothly they can read or tell me all about what they understood.
So while the converstations about reading books multiple times continues with my staff, I would love to hear some other opinions on this topic. How do you get students to reread books? What effect do you see rereading texts has on your students? Should certain texts only be used in certain grade levels?