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'Reading Room' Grand Opening at Hembree Springs

Students "shopped" for the perfect book Aug. 24.

Imagine shopping without the hassle: no persistent sales associates, no crowded malls, no high prices. In fact, don't bother bringing your wallet. Sound enticing? On Friday, Aug. 24, students, parents and faculty members at entered Kristen Reittenbach's third grade classroom ready to shop. 

Surrounded by shoes and books of all types and sizes, the question on everyone's mind was, "What do shoes and books have in common?" To which student Francisco Ortiz poignantly replied, "Both shoes and books take us places." With that said, Reittenbach and her students discussed their strategies for choosing shoes and books that fit just right. Parents and faculty were happy to support students as they applied these shopping skills when the classroom library officially opened and students filled their book boxes with "good fit" books.            

Patience is a virtue, as some say, and these third grade students had plenty of practice in the first nine days of school. 

"I encouraged students to read from the bins of books I'd put at their tables each day, but they didn't have full reign of our class library until now," said Reittenbach. "I want my students to be thoughtful when they're reading, but also thoughtful when choosing their books." 

Leading up to the big opening, students lined up along the red ribbon tied around the classroom library as they started a countdown for Reittenbach to cut the ribbon. Three, two, one...and the shopping began.            

With cheat sheets for parents and bookmarks for students, the I PICK strategy, created by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, was applied by all readers. 

  • I choose books.  
  • Purpose - Why am I reading this book? 
  • Interest - Am I interested in this book?  
  • Comprehend - Do I understand what I'm reading? 
  • Know - Do I know most of the words?) 

"I'm interested in reading about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.," Maryn Scott, a student, announced. "But I think this book is too easy for me." 

With access to a full closet's worth of shoes scattered around the room, parents and faculty members could easily refer to the visual, asking students, "What would happen if we wore shoes that were too small, too large, or just right?"    

"The shoe and book analogy is perfect!" one parent exclaimed as the conversations around the room grew deeper.

For instance, when shoes are too small, feet don't grow properly.

"We wouldn't get very far," another student explained.

If readers continue to read books that are too easy, they won't grow as readers. They would stay in the same reading place. Additionally, when shoes are too big, it's easy to stumble and fall. If readers read books that are too challenging, they will stumble over the words, not getting very far. When shoes are a good fit, however, Reittenbach's third graders say, "We are ready to go places!" Good fit books feel good and help readers grow. 

As the opening ceremony came to a close, guests enjoyed the last of their treats and sparkling apple cider toasts. Nevertheless, the sparkle in the students', parents' and teachers' eyes were still present. The community of readers at Hembree Springs Elementary School is ready and eager to shop and their libraries are open for business.

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