Have a small basket of books ready for kids to choose from. I try to have one on each table. I usually put many levels from all different genres in them.
Model how you pick a book. Look at the cover, the back, flip through the book, look at the illustrations, and read a little to see if you might be interested.
I model how children can read differently. Some read by looking at pictures, or reading some words. The older kids use the 5 finger method to see if the book is too difficult for them.
We are allowing kids to choose books from a group of books, not so much the leveling of them. I try not to tell a child that they can't read a book because it is too hard for them. They usually know, even if they did do the five finger test!
So, when we conference, I might, at that point, tell them to choose a book that might be related to the one that they choose originally. If not, I will go to the bookroom and find one to hold that child's interest in reading.
You can use the word FIT to help you remember how to choose a book.
F is for finding a book that looks interesting.
I is for investigating to see whether the book is too hard or too easy
T is for trying the book or trading it in for another.
~This idea is from Mailbox Magazine
I usually give book talks as I read through a book with the kids. I do this in the beginning of the year and throughout the year as books I read become more complicated. I do this to excite the listener and get them interested in what I am reading. I always feel it is better for kids to reach for the stars then quit! You see, I really want them to read. I might begin with Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, by Judy Blume. Who doesn't have a pesky little brother, sister, or cousin, that they could relate to? Everyone is always happy to share their experiences, even the shy kids.
When kids give their own book talk they will:
Tell the title of the book, and the author of the book they read.
Give a reaction and tell why they felt that way.
They will find a page that they enjoyed reading, (or paragraph) and share it will the class.
Make a connection, and find the part of the book that made them feel that way. (Could also be an illustration)
Tell the class why they
originally chose that book.
Always model everything you do in the beginning. This is very important for kids. It gives them guidelines.
I always use the words:
I wonder why...
I wonder why he said that to his brother?
I wonder why the author chose to write it that way?
Sometimes I just say I wonder...and then let the kids give me a question. I record them on a chart and then we discuss the questions at a later date.