Chapter Books vs. Basals: Where Do You Stand?

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  1. I am a 4th grade teacher in an urban school (title 1) in Jacksonville, FL. My team and I started a book study last year during professional development that led us to replace the basil with strategy units in which we use chapter books and novel studies as you mentioned above. We found the same thing you did--the students absolutely LOVED the chapter books and were so engaged in the text that they were begging for more! My kids were doing the unthinkable in a low-income struggling school like mine--asking me to buy books for our classroom library by the same authors I was using in my lessons, taking home books to read ahead, challenging themselves to read on grade level, etc. Currently, my team and I are designing a schedule for next year that is broken into strategy units, each one focusing on a new author (of chapter books). I was wondering if you have any suggestions of chapter books to use in a Questioning unit? We are already using Louis Sachar, Andrew Clements, Beverly Cleary, and Roald Dahl in other units. Thanks for an intersting blog that confirms my newfound belief on teaching reading!

  2. Sorry it has taken me so long to respond Katie. Between the 4th weekend (my daughter's birthday is 7/4) and then off to FL for the shuttle launch I have been MIA on my blog!

    It is amazing when you see those kids really turn on the love of reading isn't it! Your team plans sound fantastic. Nice that you are given the freedom to explore off the beaten path a bit. I love all the authors that you mentioned and I have used them all as well. What exactly do you mean by a "questioning unit"? Are you looking for something where the kids will develop questions or answering of questions? Personally I gear my unit questions towards the higher level of Bloom's taxonomy. I really try and get the kids to analyze what they've read and to really try and understand the motivations of the characters/author. I do include some basic comprehension questions as well but not too many. I don't want my students to just regurgitate what they've read, I want them to think about it and ponder motivations.

    Good luck with your upcoming school year! You sound like a fantastic teacher and your students are very fortunate!