By Claire Arteaga
During my first year teaching I knew that literature would be the backbone of every core subject. I read and read and read to my class in hopes that they would somehow absorb the information that needed to be covered. However, I did not realize the importance and benefits of responding to literature. When thinking of reader responses, all that came to my mind were classroom discussions and tests.
Luckily, I have grown as an educator in the past two years. I have learned about different reading strategies, as well as different types of literature responses. The response that I have found to be most beneficial is student-generated books. Students of all reading and writing levels have the ability to create books. It is an activity that can be used for any subject and any grade level.
Giving students the opportunity to create their own books is one of the greatest gifts they can receive! Through this activity, they gain self-confidence and assurance as writers and readers. This helps them to become more interested in the topic that they are writing about. In our class we create either an individual student-made book or a collaborative classroom book each week, which gives them the feeling of ownership and belonging.
My class has learned the writing process through the use of creating their own books. Every Monday in our class, the students get the opportunity to brainstorm about what type of book they will write in response to our literature of the week. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the students work on their draft. Thursday is set aside for revisions and editing, and Friday they present their final product to the class.
Fridays bring great joy to our classroom. The students are excited to share their book and take it home to read to their families. Most of my students come from low-income families and money for books is scarce. Many parents have let me know that they are grateful for the opportunity to have a free book that they can read with their child. I get so many positive notes from the parents letting me know how impressed they are with their child’s work. The support from home encourages my students to keep creating wonderful books to share with their loved ones.
I notice that my students are satisfied and proud of each other’s accomplishments. During student-selected reading time, my students often choose to read the student-generated books over any other books. They take ownership and pride in their work and it reflects in their attitudes while reading the books. I plan on using Student-generated books for years to come!