Sample Book Menus for Students
If you're looking for a way to manage an independent reading program in your classroom, or encourage your child to try different genres, book menus can provide motivation and structure.
Scroll down for sample book menus you can use with students. Notice that student choice is built in to the menus, and that there is a place for students to establish personal reading goals on the form.
See the Six Picks Reading Challenge Menus for more ways to encourage independent reading in the classroom.
Recommendations regarding the use of book menus in a classroom:
DO conference with students when you set up the menus so you know what kinds of things they already like to read. If you know some of their favorite books, it is easier to recommend new options.
DO allow books that students read in class (during literature circles, for example) to count as teacher recommended books.
DO encourage students to read things from different genres and books that are at an appropriate level of challenge, but balance this encouragement with empathy. Re-reading a favorite book is okay. Adult readers do not always choose Tolstoy, even if it is at their reading level. Reading for enjoyment is good!
DO assist students as they establish their personalized reading goals with the menus. For example, if a student only chooses to read books from one series, guide her toward a couple of other authors. Be responsive to student preferences as you help them set reading goals. A reasonable deadline might be the end of the quarter or trimester.
DO encourage students to share their favorite books with you and with each other. Build in time for students to talk about what they are reading. Real readers share what they like, dislike, and discover in the books they read.
DO conference with students about what they are reading to check for comprehension, enjoyment, and motivation.
DO personalize menus for struggling readers and advanced readers so that their goals are achievable and valuable.
DO create custom book menus built around broad themes, such as "freedom" or "power" or the struggle between individuals and groups. This allows you to refer to principles from these themes in other class discussions, as well as in your book conferences.
DO NOT require students to read a book every week. Many students will read much faster than that, while others will struggle. This kind of guideline pulls attention away from the books and can induce student stress.
DO NOT require advanced readers to stick to a menu. If you have students who are already avid readers, don't slow them down with imposed structure.
DO NOT require all students to earn points or read the same number of books. The menu may provide motivation, necessary structure, and new book ideas for some students, but it may be an unnecessary distraction for others.
DO NOT require students to keep track of how many pages they read. Readers read in all kinds of places: under the covers, before soccer practice, and so forth. If you are in the middle of a great book, you don't want to log page numbers--you want to keep reading.
DO NOT insist that students complete a row or column from the book menu (although the student's goal might lead to that outcome). The goal is to keep students reading as much as possible, not to read in lines.
DO NOT tie menu titles to grade levels, since this is distracting to many students. A sample menu below is labeled 234.2. It's intended for advanced readers in about third grade, but it would be a good fit for some second graders and fourth graders. The ".2" means it would be appropriate for most target readers during the middle of the year, while ".1" would be used earlier in the year. Additional codes that only you understand could be added to help manage various menus as you adapt them.
DO NOT force your students into a system that isn't working. Be flexible and attentive.