Exciting lesson ideas, classroom strategies, book lists, videos, and reproducibles in a daily blog by teachers
























The Reader's Notebook

By Beth Newingham on November 4, 2009
  • Grades: 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

Once I did away with the basal many years ago and adopted the Reading Workshop approach in my classroom, I quickly realized that my students needed a place to organize their reading materials, keep track of the books they read, and record the thinking they do about their reading.  After trying out a variety of different versions of a Reader's Notebook, including a spiral notebook and a Duo-Tang folder, I finally determined that a binder was the most user-friendly solution. 

A binder works so well for my readers because it provides them with an efficient way to add new handouts, quickly access information, and easily refer to previous reading responses in the six carefully organized sections of the binder.

I can't imagine running my Reading Workshop without having my students maintain a Reader's Notebook.  It is in this notebook that students build their reading lives over the course of the year.  READ ON to learn more about the sections I include in my Reader's Notebook and find links to download the resources I include in each section.




The Reader's Notebook


My Reader's Notebook is a one-inch view binder with a personalized cover and a spine labeled with each student's name. The binder has six sections that are separated with colored, labeled tabs.



Below is a description of what I include in each section.



1. Reading Log



Reading log scan I chose this as the first section in the notebook because it's something that students need to access easily and often. Every time my students complete a book, they record the book's title and author, and the date they complete the book.  After learning about the different genres in our library, students also record the book's genre using a genre code. (See section two for more details about genre.)  I find it necessary for my students to also include the book's color coded level and then determine if the book was E (easy), JR (just right), or C (challenging) after they have finished reading it. 

Recording the actual level with their corresponding level of comfort with the book is an important component of my reading log because my students are constantly encouraged to reflect on their personal reading growth.  It's through the regular recording of their books that students realize when a color code is becoming easier for them as the year progresses. It's at this point that they may decide to try out a book at a higher level.  Students revisit their reading log often when making connections between books they are currently reading and books they have read previously.  They also use their reading log to create genre graphs at the end of each unit of study (see section two).

I choose to print multiple copies of the reading log on card stock instead of regular paper so the reading log pages do not rip out of the students' binders.  This record of reading is such an important reflection of each student's reading growth over the school year, so spending a little extra money on card stock to make sure the log stays in the binder is worth it to me!

Download Reading Log


2. Genres

Genre definitions Genre Overview

The first resource in this section is the "Genre Overview" sheet.  At the beginning of the year when students are still becoming familiar with the characteristics of each genre and the corresponding genre codes, I can direct them to this sheet without having to meet with students every time they're not sure of the genre of a particular book. I use the genre codes suggested by Fountas and Pinnell.


Download "Genre Overview"




Genre Graphs

Genre Graph


At the end of every unit of study, students count up the number of books they have read in each genre and record the number on the "What Genres Am I Reading?" sheet. They then use the information to create a genre graph that reflects their variety (or lack of variety) of reading during IDR time. The graphs are often a wake-up call for students who get too comfortable reading a single genre, and they are a great way for me to get a quick overview of what each student is choosing to read. The results of the genre graphs often lead students to set genre-specific reading goals each month. (See more information about setting reading goals in section three.)


Download "What Genres Am I Reading?"

Download Genre Graph 0–5

Download Genre Graph 0–10

Download Genre Graph 0–20

Download Genre Graph 0–30

3. Goals and Progress

This is another important section on my Reader's Notebook because it is a place for students to really keep track of their growth as a reader throughout the year. This section is great for showing parents or referring to when completing report cards.



Students' Personal Reading Goals



Reading Goals The first resource in this section is the "My Reading Goals" sheet.  At the beginning of each month, my students set goals for themselves as readers. Of course I do quite a bit of modeling prior to asking students to set their own goals. I encourage students to set a goal in at least three of the categories listed below. I added sample goals in each category. 




Word Attack & Fluency Goals

 Use more expression when I read.

 Use the strategy ______________ to decode unfamiliar words.

 Pay more attention to punctuation when I read (periods, quotation marks, commas, etc.).

 Read a minimum of ___ pages each day.


Genre Goals

• Read a book from the ________ genre this month.

• Read ___ books in the ___________ genre this month.

• Try reading a book from the __________ series this month because I haven’t tried this series before.

• Read ____ chapter books this month.

• Become an expert on _________ by reading books about this topic.


Thinking Goals

• Stop after every chapter and think about what I am reading.

• Use Post-it notes as stop signs to make myself “stop and think.”

• Reread when something doesn’t make sense.


Reading Behavior Goals

• Remember to record every book I read.

• Read without distracting others.

• Read only books that are just right for me.

• Always do the IDR task that is assigned.



Color Code Form

Color code The second resource in this section is the "What Is My Just Right Color?" sheet.  This sheet is used as a visual record of a student's progression through the color codes in our classroom library throughout the school year.  When I see students choosing to read books well below or above their "just right" color code, I can quickly flip to this section of their notebook and remind them of the books they should be reading.

Download Color Code Form



Books I Plan to Read

Optional resources in this section include the "Books I Plan to Read" sheet and the "Chapter Books vs. Picture Books" recording sheet.  Since students may find books in the classroom library that they are interested in reading but are too challenging for them at a certain point in the year, they are encouraged to record those books on the "Books I Plan to Read" sheet so that they can remember to choose those books when they do feel more comfortable at the higher level.  Students may even use this sheet to plan future reading of "just right" books by certain authors or books that are part of a favorite series.

Download "Books I Plan to Read"


Chapter Books vs. Picture Books

The "Chapter Books vs. Picture Books" sheet is used when I have students who should be reading chapter books but who are instead reading picture books the majority of the time.  Third grade is a transitional year for many readers.  While students want to read chapter books at the beginning of the year, I find that many readers will fall back into picture books because they are a quick, "easy-to-read" choice.  Setting goals in this area is helpful for some readers.

Download "Chapter Books vs. Picture Books"



4. Mini-Lesson Handouts

TOC There are times when I want to provide students with a helpful handout that will assist them with an independent reading task or a sheet that I think they might want to reference when reading on their own.  Examples include decoding strategies, class charts (that I type up after a mini-lesson), etc.  I like this section because students can easily access resources from mini-lessons during independent reading, and I can also refer to the handouts when conferring with students if I find it necessary to reference a specific lesson or concept I have previously taught.  I make sure to only ask students to add a handout to their table of contents if I truly think they may refer to it at a later time.  Each time students add a handout to their binder, they write the title of the handout on their "Mini-Lesson Handout Table of Contents" and write a page number on the bottom of the handout.

Download "Mini-Lesson Handouts Table of Contents"



IMG_0799 5. Reading Partnerships

I will do a separate post on reading partnerships later in the year, but this section is a place for students to keep all of the recording sheets from this unit in one safe place so that they are not misplaced when students need to meet with their partners. Take a look at my Reading Partnership Unit.




6. Reading Response

Reading response When transitioning from an actual notebook to a binder, it was difficult for me to determine what this section of my Reader's Notebook would look like.  When using a spiral notebook, it was hard for my 3rd graders to keep their responses organized, and I was frustrated when trying to read their responses. This section of my binder is now more structured. There are three ways that students respond to their reading on a daily basis.


IDR Task Sheets

I ask students to use these task sheets when I just want them to do a quick task when reading during IDR (individualized daily reading) time. I want my students reading for the majority of IDR time and am careful not to always give them tasks that take up the entire time that should be spent reading self-selected texts from their book box.


Download IDR Task Sheet




Sticky Note Tracker Sheet

Sticky note pages There are other times when I just want them to write about their reading on sticky notes as they make their way through their books.  I tell my students to "talk back" to their books as they read.  Whenever they talk back to their book, they leave a sticky note on that page.   Although I confer with students often, I can't be there with them during every book they read.  For this reason, I ask them to take the sticky notes out of their books when they are done and attach them to a "Sticky Note Tracker Sheet" that is then added to their Reader's Notebook.  This way I can see the thinking that is taking place on a regular basis and use it as a tool to guide my individual conversations and necessary instruction with specific students.

Download "Sticky Note Tracker Sheet"


Reading Response Topics

Students also have lined paper in this last section of their notebook.  While the IDR task sheets and the "Sticky Note Tracker Sheets" are used when I want students to quickly record their thinking as they read or show their understanding of a mini-lesson concept, the reading response topics are to be used when I expect students to truly write about their reading.  As a class, we create a rubric that is used to evaluate the quality of students' responses.  Students are required to complete a reading response entry twice a month.  For students who I believe need to be challenged, I may ask request weekly responses.

Download Reading Response Topics






Reader's Notebook Assessment


Readers notebook rubricSince students are constantly using their Reader's Notebook to record books they've read, reflect on their reading, track their reading progress, talk back to their books, and set reading goals, it is important that I take time to check in on their work.  It is also important to hold my students accountable for maintaining their Reader's Notebook and using it to improve their reading.  For this reason, I created a Reader's Notebook Rubric that I use to assess the effort, care, and thought that is put into each student's notebook.

Whenever I formally assess the notebooks, I have the students take them home for their parents to review as well.  It is important for parents to observe their child's reading growth over the year, and the Reader's Notebook is a very concrete way for parents to see it.

Download Reader's Notebook Rubric





Reader's Notebook Storage

I like to have my students' Reader's Notebooks kept with their book boxes in one place.  This way students need to make only one stop on their way to the reading carpet for the mini-lesson.  Their notebooks are kept right next to their book boxes on special bookshelves in our classroom.



Assessment in the Reading Workshop

Check back soon for my next post that will focus on assessment in the Reading Workshop. I will describe the ways I formally and informally assess my readers on a regular basis and how I then use the information to guide my future teaching.




Comments (163)


We use the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System to assess students' reading levels in our district. Here is a link to their website for more information: http://www.fountasandpinnellbenchmarkassessment.com/



The reading workshop is definitely a K+ approach to teaching reading. It may look a bit different in first grade, but the main concepts are the same. Students are given real time to read texts at their independent level while receiving a daily whole-class mini-lesson and regular individualized time with the teacher in a small group setting.

For more information about first grade reading, Kathy Collins has written a great book about reading workshop for the primary grades. It is called "Growing Readers." It provides background on the workshop and lays out a year's worth of units of study. Here is a link to more information about her book: http://www.stenhouse.com/shop/pc/viewprd.asp?idProduct=373&r=&REFERER=

You can even preview parts of the book online.

I hope you find it to be helpful!


Beth, In my former school district, I used STAR to assess my students changing reading levels. How do you assess your students reading levels?


Are the first grade teachers also doing this type of reading program, or it is for the older children.


The "basal" issue is one that I am approached about often. When I first began experimenting with reading workshop in my classroom, most teachers in my district were still using the basal we had adopted years ago. I had also been using the basal since it was the only thing that was provided to new teachers (in terms of a reading curriculum) when I started teaching in my district 10 years ago.

Even when teachers are using a basal text, there are still sequential lessons incorporated into units of study that are presented to students each month. When I first began transitioning from the basal text to a reading workshop approach, I tried turning the basal lessons into mini-lessons. I was, in a sense, teaching the basal content within the structure of a reading workshop. I ended up reading aloud many of the stories in the basal text that students were expected to read on their own. I then used them as mentor texts and referred to them when teaching my mini-lessons. Since the stories in a basal text are often "one size fits all," I did not feel bad about using them as a read aloud or even as a shared text. The stories were often well above or well below the students' "just right" reading levels in my classroom, so using them as read-aloud texts or shared reading texts made the most sense to me. I would teach the content I was expected to teach from the basal, but my students would practice using those skills and strategies in their own self-selected books from my classroom library.

While a basal text can be restrictive when trying to implement an authentic reading workshop, it certainly does not make it impossible. Creativity and flexibility on the part of the classroom teacher becomes essential to making it work!

Good luck, and feel free to post any additional questions you might have!



You asked about how I get my basket labels to stay attached to the baskets when the baskets have holes. I actually use self-adhesive floppy disk holders. (Luckily I bought them in bulk a few years ago because I think they are becoming extinct!) They worked great for many years, but some are now beginning to fall off. Once they lose their stickiness, I either replace the old ones with a new floppy disk holder, or I reattach the non-sticky floppy disk holder with a hot glue gun. We have found the hot glue gun to be a good solution for keeping the labels attached to the baskets. Let me know if you come up with a better solution!

Thanks for reading my blog!



It sounds like you and your 2nd grade colleagues are doing some great things in your classrooms. I'm glad you are able to use some of the ideas for IDR time from my post. Good luck with your reading workshop!



I'm glad you have found my blog and my website to be useful! The "thick questioning" lessons have really proven to be helpful for my students. It has been a great way to deepen their reading partnership discussions!


HI Beth,

Your amazing! Quick question, how do you get your basket labels to stay on? The holes on the basket make it difficult for my labels to ever stay on for too long....


Thank you Beth for all of your fabulous ideas. I have found so much inspiration in your classroom website and all of your ideas. Although I teach 2nd grade, I am often able to modify ideas you have for my class. Our 2nd grade team has just started ability level grouping students for reading. I have the High Level students. I am currently putting a binder of reading activities together. I plan on using IDR time very similar to yours. Thank you for all the ideas and suggestions. You truly are an inspiration to many teachers.

WOW...I was looking for information about Thin and Thick questions. I can't believe the jackpot I have hit...what a wonderful website and GREAT ideas.


You asked specifically how to help students develop the very important skill of inferencing.

To help my own students with this skill, I do lots of modeling during my read-alouds. I choose books that are well-suited for inferencing and stop often during my read-alouds to "think-aloud" in front of my students as I make inferences. Once they have seen me do it often, I stop to allow the students to share their own inferences.

Below is a book list that provides suggestions for read-aloud books that encourage the inferencing skill.

Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen Peppe, the Lamplighter by E. Bartone (predicting) Journey to Ellis Island: How My Father Came to America by Carol Bierman (inferring and vocabulary in context) The Table Where Rich People Sit by Byrd Baylor Winter Fox by Jennifer Brutschy Dandelion by Eve Bunting A Day’s Work by Eve Bunting Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting Going Home by Eve Bunting (inferring) How Many Days To America by Eve Bunting The Memory String by Eve Bunting The Wall by Eve Bunting The Wednesday Surprise by Eve Bunting Stellaluna by Cannon See the Ocean by Estelle Condra Getting’ Through Tuesday by Melrose Cooper Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin Carl Goes Shopping by Alexandra Day Frank and Ernest by Alexandra Day Frank and Ernest Play Ball by Alexandra Day Frank and Ernest on the Road by Alexandra Day Good Dog Carl by Alexandra Day Charlie the Caterpillar by Dom DeLuise Dateline: Troy by Paul Fleischman Shoes from Grandpa by Mem Fox Possom Magic by Mem Fox Oink! Oink! By Arthur Geist Teammates by Peter Golenbock Grandpa’s Face by Greenfield Tight Times by Barbara Shook Hazen Creatures of the Earth, Sea, and Sky (book of poems) by Georgia Heard Rose Blanche by Roberto Innocenti Cinder Edna by Ellen Jackson The Island of Skog by Steven Kellog (predicting) She’s Wearing a Dead Bird on Her Head by Lasky (inferring) A Gathering of Garter Snakes by Bianca Lavies (vocabulary in context) Fables by Arnold Lobel Shortcut by Macaulay George and Martha by James Marshall George and Martha Encore by James Marshall George and Martha Rise and Shine by James Marshall White Dynamite and Curly Kidd by Martin and Archambault Oops: A Preston Pig Story by Colin McNaugton (prediction) The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills I’ll Love You Forever by Robert Munsch Purple, Green, and Yellow by Robert Munsch The Lily Cupboard by Oppenheim Piggie Pie by Margie Palatini Zoom Broom by Margie Palatini The Tale of Mandarin Ducks by K. Paterson (inferring) The Royal Bee by Francis Park Alvin Ailey by A. Pinkney (vocabulary in context) All I See by Rylant Miss Maggie by Cynthia Rylant Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman by Schroeder (inferring) Squids Will Be Squids by Scieszka No, David! by David Shannon White Wash by Ntzoake Shange (predicting) Autumn Across America by Simon (vocabulary in context) Big Bushy Mustache by Soto Chato’s Kitchen by Soto The Old Man and His Door by Soto Amos and Boris by Steig Zeke Peppin by Steig (predicting) The Gardener by Stewart Where Are You Going, Manyoni? by Stock Ben’s Dream by Chris Van Allsburg The Garden of Abdul Gasazi by Chris Van Allsburg Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg The Wreck of the Zephyr by Chris Van Allsburg Free Fall by David Weisner June 29, 1999 by David Weisner Tuesday by David Weisner Timothy Goes to School by Rosemary Wells Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth The Gift of Driscoll Lipscomb by Yamaka Encounter by Jane Yolen If You Listen by Charlotte Zolotow

I hope this helps!



Thanks for your compliments. It is exciting to know that my ideas can be implemented in both a home-school and classroom setting!


Hi Beth, Thank you for your generosity! I am trying to impliment some of your strategies and really like the thick/thin questions. My students are only grade 2 but do you have any other hints or ideas on how to develop that inferencing skill? thanks so much, Pam


Thank you for sharing this. We are a homeschool family and was searching for some help with ideas this morning and am so impressed with your ideas and organization. You have a gift.



Thanks for your thoughtful comments! You are very kind! It is always exciting to know that other teachers (and even reading coaches) are finding this blog and my resources to be helpful!



You asked about the specific IDR tasks I assign each day.

Most often, the IDR task is directly related to the mini-lesson I am teaching. For example, If I am teaching a lesson about context clues, I will ask students to briefly write about a word that they were able to solve that day using a context-clue strategy I taught in the mini-lesson. They would do such a task on the "3-to-a-page" IDR task response sheet that I referenced in the post. This is the most common type of task I assign because I want my students reading most of the time. I do not want them having to spend more time responding to their reading than actually being engaged in their texts.

On another day an IDR task might just be to use sticky notes to mark places in their text where they notice something. For example, when teaching students to pay attention to a character's dialogue when inferring character traits, I just ask them to write the character trait they are inferring on a sticky note and place it next to the corresponding dialogue in their text. This holds them accountable for applying the skill I taught in the mini-lesson, but it does not detract from their independent reading.

In terms of talking back to their books on sticky notes, I do not assign this task on an extremely regular basis. If there is not a specific task for the day, I may ask my readers to "talk back to your book at least 3 times today." If I have a concern about a specific student's comprehension, I may ask that student to talk back to his book on sticky notes more often just so that I can "see" his thinking even when I am not reading with him directly.

I think the other reading response tasks that you asked about are when students actually pick from one of the reading response prompts from the "Reading Response Topics" handout. These are longer pieces of writing that require students to put forth a great deal of thought and effort. I only ask my students to do this once or twice a month. They are usually given a week's notice so that they can even take it home if they prefer. The responses are usually at least a page long and are written to me as a letter. I try to respond to each student's response with a letter back to the student.

I hope this helps you to understand more thoroughly how I assign IDR tasks each day.


Beth, You are one of the most amazing teachers I have ever seen. I would move to Michigan just to put my child in your class! I am a Reading Coach at a school in Chicago, and I share many of your ideas with my teachers. I appreciate all the resources you share. You are an inspiration to all! Sue Roberts

I love your website, and I am amazed that you can fit so much into each day! I am a recent graduate, and the school district that I will be working for mandates a particular basal reading program. Do you have any suggestions for combining reading workshop and a basal reading program? There is so much to fit into our 90-minute reading block. I feel my head spinning!


How do you assign IDR tasks each day? Do they get to choose whether they write a "Reading Response" or "Talk Back"? Do you assign a prompt for the RR everyday, or just some days? Do they have requirements as far as how many responses or talk backs they have to do in a week or month? Just trying to get the finishing touches put on my newly redesigned Reading Workshop!!

Thanks for the help! Stephanie

Thanks Myriam! I'm glad you are finding my ideas useful!


dear Beth, thank you so so much for all your greta ideas! Am a new teacher and i just love your website!


Thanks for your comments. I am glad that you have been able to use some of my tips and suggestions to improve the organization and student accountability factor in your reading workshop. Good luck for continued success!


Sue, I am so glad that you have found this blog to be helpful! Good luck using Civil War novels in your workshop! It's great when you can integrate social studies into your reading workshop!


Thank you for sharing. This year I have gone from teaching small group to classroom. Although I love having a classroom, my routine is so different and I am concern that I am not utilizing my student's time as best I can. With your help, I will be able to better direct my student's time with accountability. Organization plays such an important part in having a constructive classroom and your site offers so many suggestions. God Bless You, Sharon

This is a "Bonanza Website!"I have spent the last hour with this website! I can hardly wait to adapt it to a Reading Workshop using Civil War novels for my fifth grade classroom.


Thanks for the comments! I am glad that you are finding my ideas posted on the blog to be useful for you and your students! Good luck implementing them in your classroom.


Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful Readers Notebook!


I am a new teacher and have been looking for ideas to implement in the classroom. I am thankful for educators, like yourself, who are willing to share their ideas.


Thanks for sharing! The site you referenced, www.lauracandler.com , is great! She definitely has some great literacy resources for reading and writing workshop and word study!


Hi Beth and 5th grade teachers,

Before this year, I taught all of my school's fifth grade math. One site that I loved was www.lauracandler.com I am not familiar with the literacy stuff on there because I wasn't teaching that at the time, but I know she has a lot of folders for that type of stuff. The math stuff is great. I made many many math games from her site, because she provides most of the templates and stuff for each game. Hope this helps!



I am not aware of a 5th grade teacher website similar to my own, but I will ask my colleagues to see if they are aware of one.

This blog is also a great way for other teachers to connect with one another. Does anyone know of a good 5th grade teacher's website that would provide great resources for another 5th grade teacher? If so, please share!!



You asked about how my students determine what topic they will pick when doing a reading response in their notebook. I think you are referring to the reading response topic list I included in my post. That topic list is only used once a month when students actually write a letter to me about their reading. They are simply asked to pick a different topic each time they respond.

On most days the IDR reading response task is directly related to the mini-lesson and is much shorter. Students do their IDR task on an IDR Response Sheet (referred to in the post), or they use the Talking Back to Books handout (referred to in post) to write their thinking on sticky notes.

For example, students are currently studying the main characters in the texts they are reading. On the day that I teach a lesson about inferring character traits based on a character's actions, my readers' IDR task that day is to find an important action in their story and then write on a sticky note a character trait that can be inferred from that specific action.

I am careful to make sure that the IDR task is not a lengthy one everyday. I want my students engaged in their texts as much as possible and do not want to make my tasks so long that they do not spend time truly reading.



I'm glad you are enjoying what I have shared! I too have benefitted from the sharing of other great teachers. I agree with you that working together and sharing resources truly leads to better teaching for all of us! Of course the students benefit as well!


Hi Beth!

Another question: How do students choose which response topic they will do? Can they do the same one more than once? Thanks for the input.



You asked if I teach the same skill for multiple mini-lessons or if I teach it once and come back to it again later.

That is a complicated question, so my answer is somewhat complicated as well.

I try to teach my mini-lessons as a series of related lessons. Each lesson builds on the next, and I am constantly asking my readers to use knowledge from prior mini-lessons.

Here are some examples. During the fiction genre study I am currently teaching, we have been focusing on story elements. Since the problem is a main component of the plot, we spend a week studying different types of problems. Here is what one week looks like. Monday: Introducing Problem/Conflict Tuesday: Types of Conflict-Character vs. Character Wednesday: Types of Conflict-Character vs. Self Thursday: Types of Conflict- Character vs. Nature Friday: Types of Conflict- Character vs. Society

During another week in this same unit, we are stydying characters. Here is what a series of character mini-lessons looks like. Monday: Round vs. Flat Characters Tuesday: Identifying Character Traits Wednesday: Inferring Character Traits Based on a Character's Actions Thursday: Inferring Character Traits Based on a Character's Dialogue Friday: Character Development- Analyzing HOW Characters Change Monday: Character Development- Analyzing WHY Characters Change

I'm not sure if these examples help, but it was hard to answer your question without giving you a look at a typical week in my reading workshop. Of course all skills are revisited during small group instruction and when conferring with students individually. We also revisit these skills in future units of study so that students become very comfortable applying their learning to their independent reading.



I agree that it can be hard to help our "high" readers set effective reading goals. I often find that their goals come from the specific things we discuss (or things I work on with them) during individual conferences. Their goals are often related to story/character analysis for fiction texts. It is so important for these readers to really get used to using examples from the text to support their ideas about their books. Because of this, many of their goals may also be specific to their level of reading response. These readers might also set goals that lead to a specific number of chapter books they will read each month or a specific number of books they will read in a certain genre if their reading is not varied enough.

I hope this helps! It is so hard to give advice on specfic reading goals because each reader is so different!


Dear Beth, THANK YOU for your wonderful site! I have been a teacher for 21 years and this will be my first year using Reader's Workshop! I LOVE IT! I've always known this was the best approach, but really found it difficult to start. I have "studied" your site along with some other resources and I am now well underway & my kids LOVE it! I teach a gifted/high achiever class so all of my readers are reading above level. They are motivated, voracious readers! I do find a challenge in writing goals for them. I know comprehension and vocabulary should be part of their goals. Do you have any suggestions for a class like this? Thanks so much for sharing! Gina

I am in such awe of how you do reading and writing workshops! It is very inspirational! We have many skills to teach, so I was wondering how you go about doing your mini lessons. For example -- do you talk about the same skill in your mini lessons for a solid week (or however long it takes) or do you talk about it in a mini lesson once and then come back to it at a later time?


I'm glad you are finding some of my ideas useful in your own classroom.

It sounds like some of your district's requirements (like having all students read from the basal text in place of independent reading) are really keeping your students from being able to read self-selected texts. Fortunately, my district has gone away from requiring the use of a basal text, so my students are able to read for nearly 40 minutes each day. Because of this, they are able to complete many texts each month. However, it is hard to give you a specific number because some students are reading chapter books, while my lower readers are still reading more picture books. Many students are also reading nonfiction as well, so it really varies in terms of now many books each student completes.

During our 35-40 minute IDR time, I regularly conduct guided reading groups and strategy groups. However, I really try to keep my lessons to 12-15 minutes so that students never lose an entire day of IDR time. Another goal is not to see a single student more than 3 times a week. (You may have to make an exception for students reading well below grade level.) I want them to have time to apply what they learn in their lessons with me to their independent reading. I really try to give them ample time to do that.

You also mentioned that your students are spending a great deal of their IDR time doing work to prepare for the next guided reading group meeting. In the past couple of years, I have really tried to keep my work with my readers confined to the lesson. I now use shorter texts in my guided reading lessons so that students can return to their self-selceted texts when they are not with me. I then use my individual reading conferences to check-in and make sure they are using the skills I taught them during my small group lessons.

The only is exception is when students are in book clubs. When they are in book clubs, they are reading chapter books that do require them to do reading outside of our time together so that they are prepared for the next meeting. During these times, I understand that students will be reading fewer books during IDR time.

My ultimate goal in reading workshop is to grow lifelong readers. The more my students are able to read "just right" books of their own choosing, the closer I am to reaching that goal of instilling in my students an authentic love of reading.

I know that it is more difficult than it sounds, especially when your district has so many requirements that make it tough to meet your personal teaching goals.

I'm not sure if I have really been able to help you, but I hope that I have been able to give you some insight as to how I manage the readers in my classroom.


You asked if the Reader's Notebook binders ever get full. I used to use half-inch binders, and they did get full. When I switched to 1-inch binders, that was not as much of a problem. Another thing that helped was really condensing my mini-lesson handout section. When I first created this section in the notebook, I felt like I needed to create a helpful handout for nearly every new strategy or skill I was teaching. Before giving students a handout to add to their binder, I now ask myself, "Do I think my students will actually use the handout when reading independently?" or "Is the handout something to which I would like to direct my students' attention when conferring with them?" If I can answer no to either question, I do not give students a handout for the mini-lesson. Each year it seems like there are fewer handouts in the binder because I pay close attention to what my students are really using to improve their reading.

If the reading response section gets too full, I may ask students to take some of the response pages home. I try to comment on their responses as they are written (which helps me guide my future teaching), so the parents can see the comments when the responses come home. However, this is a last resort option. Ideally I like to keep everything students have written in the binder all year. This way the students (and the teacher) can really see the improvement that takes place over the school year in terms of the students' quality of responses. It is nice for parents to also see their child's enhanced level of reading response when they take their notebook home each month.

I hope this answers your question!


Dear Beth,

Let me just say... WOW! You are amazing! I can't believe how organized and cutting edge you are. Thank you so much for being the kind of person who knows that the best way to help all children, is by helping all teachers. It's the saddest thing when people choose not to share. You are very generous and it just further illustrates your obvious love of teaching! Look forward to implementing your ideas! Yours in teaching, Annelie

Beth, Thank you for your amazing ideas. I read this article in awe!

Do the binders ever get full? If so, what do you do with the materials you remove?



I added a link for you to download my Reader's Notebook Rubric. You can find it below the photo of the rubric in my post!


You have great ideas and are so organinized. Thank you for sharing. My reading is centered around reader's workshop. Students are required to read the basal, independent read, and participate in reading groups. When my class looked at their mid November reading logs, many students have only been able to read 1 or 2 independent reading books. Between reading the basal one day a week, reading Weekly Reader, and reading groups, they don't seem to have a lot of time for independent reading. On average, how many books do the grade level students read each month and how do you find enough time for students to independent read? With reading groups, do you find students are using much of their time reading books and preparing for the next time the group meets?


I love your website and all your wonderful ideas. Is there a site like yours that would work for 5th grade?

Hello Beth~

I think I know your website inside and out! I LOVE it and have used SO much from it. Thanks! Is it possible that you could include a link for your Notebook Assessment that you have?

Thanks - Beth

Hello, Where do you get your mini lessons from? I am trying too implement Reader's Workshop in my class, but I am struggling with what to do in my mini lessons.


I was excited to see your post and read your comments. I am so glad that you are enjoying my work on the site this year. I truly enjoy sharing my ideas and connecting with other teachers!



Beth, Just want to compliment you on this amazing post and the video. Great work and what a learning experience. I just showed it to two design people who are working with us on the site to give them a sense of what a great teaching process looks like, and how sophisticated and professional teaching really is. David


It is always exciting to hear that pre-service teachers are tuned in to reading workshop. I truly believe it is the best way to teach reading, and I wish I would have been doing it since the beginning of my career!

In terms of getting books to use for guided reading, you may find that the district you eventually work in already has a literacy library in which sets of guided reading books at different levels are kept. That is the case at our school.

However, Scholastic does sell sets of great guided reading books. They are all leveled using the Fountas and Pinnell guided reading levels. Here is a link to all of the guided reading materials on the Scholastic website: http://teacher.scholastic.com/products/guidedreading/

Post a Comment
(Please sign in to leave a comment. Privacy Policy)
Back to Top