June 11, 2013

Teacher Tip Tuesday - Student Book Recommendations

I'm linking up with Holly today to tell you about my new Teacher Tip about student book recommendations.

I think it's true of all ELA teachers that sharing book recommendations with students gives us that warm fuzzy feeling we all love. But what do we do to motivate those reluctant readers in our classrooms?

I pride myself on winning over my reluctant readers with a multitude of strategies I've implemented in my classroom, one of which being today's tip: a Novel Recommendation Binder. This tip seriously took me about 15 minutes to throw together but has made a lasting impression in my classroom.

In my classroom, I keep a binder in my classroom library for all of my students to access at their leisure. Inside, I keep a stack of blank Novel Recommendation forms.

On the top half of the form, students write the title of the book, author, genre, short summary, and a brief description of who they think would enjoy it. The bottom half of the form is left blank with the subtitle "Recommended By" above the space. Any student who also recommends that book can simply sign their name on the page, which is sorted alphabetically by the student who completes the form (you can use alphabet binder tabs to help here). If a student needs to choose a new book, he or she will often grab the binder and see what their friends recommend instead of asking me. Peer recommendations weigh much more heavily among middle school students, after all.

In my classroom, this binder has cultivated a positive peer pressure to read. In fact, the year I started this, I had specific titles I simply couldn't keep on my bookshelf (despite the fact that I had four copies of each title) because students couldn't wait to get their hands on whatever their peers were reading.

My top readers are usually the ones to start the recommendation pages, and sometimes it becomes a friendly competition to see who can finish a book first (my only requirement) so they can fill out the form. It's a great early finisher activity as well.

My reluctant readers also enjoy being able to add their signatures to pages when they finished books. I think, in a way, it's like a brag book for my students to show off what they were reading.

An additional bonus for the middle school classrooms is that this binder allows students to share their recommendations with peers in other classes as well.

As a teacher, I've used this binder to help me see which books I need to add to my classroom library as well as which titles I need to add to my summer reading list so I can stay current with what my students read.


  1. Great minds think a like:). I was working my way through a very similar idea for next year. Glad to hear that I am so smart! Seriously, thank you! Now that I know it will work, I have just a few more details to figure out (back at school) and I will share.

  2. I also keep a binder in my room of the book reviews students shared in class that has title, author, genre, short summary (without giving away the ending), and overall recommendation. I LOVE how you also have the students sign if they recommend the book. That is a fabulous idea! I would love to see a copy of the form you use! Thanks for linking up:)
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  3. What an awesome idea!! This would have come in very handy last year... I'll add it to my summer to do list. Thanks!!

  4. This is an excellent idea! I've tried different things for peer recommendations, but this one seems to be the quickest, easier to access, and most compact! Thanks for the idea!
    Polka Dot Lesson Plans

  5. Totally agree and this is a great idea! :)
    Creating Lifelong Learners

  6. This is an excellent idea! I usually have students fill out an index card, but I like your binder idea more! Thank you :)

  7. Fantastic idea! This seems like a great way to keep recommendations organized. Have you heard of The Book Whisperer? This idea goes along with it so well! I'm doing a book discussion of it on my blog if you are interested!

    Sixth Grade Tales

  8. This is a fabulous idea!! I was trying to think of a way to successfully use peer recommendations to entice my reluctant readers. I would love to see a copy of the form you use. Would it be possible to send me a copy if you have one? My e-mail is amanda.spence@gmail.com