Who are the Readers in Your Classroom?

Modifications to a Reading Interest Survey During COVID

What do you do after you learn about the students in your classroom? And, how do you know where to begin in terms of reading and writing instruction? It is important to learn about what the children in your classroom are interested in and what they enjoy reading about so that you can actually provide them with opportunities to make choices about what they read. 

At the beginning of the year, I like to administer a reading interest survey, so that I can learn information about the books and authors that the students have read and either enjoyed or were not super interested in. I also include questions to learn about the  activities that students are doing outside of school. Here are some of the questions I tend to ask:

  1. Do you enjoy reading? Why or why not?
  2. How often do you read?
  3. What are some of the book titles you have read recently?
  4. What is your favorite book?
  5. Who is your favorite author?
  6. When you read, do you read books on an iPad or other device or do you read from an actual book? Which do you prefer and why?
  7. What are your favorite TV shows and/or movies?
  8. What games do you enjoy playing?
  9. What do you enjoy doing after school?
  10.  What sports do you like playing?
  11.  What are some of your hobbies?
  12.     List some of your interests and things that you enjoy doing when you are not in school.

This year, one of my students expressed concern about administering a survey to her first grade students – some of whom she is teaching face-to-face and others who are remote. She asked if there was a friendlier way to learn about book interests and hobbies, particularly when working with children in the early childhood grades. So, in an effort to make reading surveys more child and COVID friendly, I modified the questions down to three areas: This is Me, A Few of My Favorite Things, and Favorite Books. The order of the questions guides the students from beginning with a self-portrait and expressing who they are as an individual, to representing their interests outside of school, and finally sharing the books that they have enjoyed reading. The teacher can scaffold with questions to elicit responses from the students, such as:

  1. What do you enjoy doing after school? Can you draw and/or write some of the things you enjoy doing after school?
  2. Do you enjoy playing sports? Include some of the sports you like to play?
  3. What are some books that you read recently? [These can include books that have been read at school.] Which ones did you like? Include those on your paper!
  4. Do you have a favorite book? What about a favorite author?

In order to be inclusive to younger students, they can respond to the questions through a combination of illustrations and/or text. Here are the three pages and what they look like:

Once these questions are administered to the students, make sure you mark the date on each student’s paper and read through them! I like to have the students revisit these questions throughout the school year because interests in books change as the year progresses as well as changes in hobbies and after-school activities.

How do you learn about students’ interests in books?

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