Because we do The Daily 5 & CAFE in my classroom, we spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year talking about how to choose good-fit books. The Sisters use the acronym I PICK. Here is the poster I made that hangs near my bookshelf.
The reason for the shoes is because I do a demonstration about how some shoes are not a good fit for me. I bring in my husband's work boots, my son's shoes, dress shoes, flip flops, etc. I talk about how some are too big (too hard), too small (too easy), and some are just not right for the situation (i.e., flip flops to go running = a book you just don't like at the moment).
My students have total control over what books they are choosing to read in my classroom. The only requirement is that the book be in their AR range, because (much to my dismay) we still have AR in my district.
Donalyn Miller writes about her requirement that students read 40 books a year. At first I thought that sounded like a lot of books for fourth graders, but after looking at my class' AR results from last school year, I see many of my students read over 40 books. Granted, many of those books were picture books because our school librarian had them read picture books to get started on AR and they couldn't get out of that habit. I am not allowing that to happen this year. There is a definite time and place for picture books, but I don't want my fourth graders reading them all the time. I also like Miller's solution that books over 350 pages count as two books. I might lower that for my fourth graders. Maybe books over 250 pages?
Miller has a genre requirement for her 40 books, and I think I would alter mine a little bit. Just off the top of my head, my genre requirement might look like this:
Realistic Fiction - 5
Historical Fiction - 2
Fantasy - 5
Science Fiction - 2
Mystery - 4
Informational - 5
Biography, Autobiography, Memoir - 5
Poetry Anthologies - 2
Chapter Book Choice - 10
The students that I work with crave structure. Many times, it is necessary for their success. If I were to take this genre requirement a step further and split them into 9 weeks (i.e., 1st 9 weeks-R.F. 2, Fantasy., 2, etc.) is that taking away student choice? Maybe I'll just be able to monitor my students' progress toward their genre goals through conferences and not have to worry about it. I can definitely see this being a learning process for both myself and my students.
I am so very much enjoying reading this book! I actually feel very validated knowing that what I've been doing is the best for my students. I'm very excited to discuss reader's notebooks in the coming week!