Professional Development

June 14, 2021

Rethinking How We Fill Book Boxes for Independent Reading Time

As early childhood teachers, we know the importance of reading. We know how important all the aspects are from phonics instruction to phonemic awareness instruction to reading comprehension to small group instruction to independent reading time. As we want our readers to blossom into strong readers, we know that providing them with the right tools is important. Sometimes this is a well thought out interactive read aloud lesson. Other times, itโ€™s the books we fill their book boxes with for independent reading time. 

I am always learning, growing, and reflecting on my teaching practice and what I believe to be a best practice based on research and classroom experience. With this in mind, I have been open to reexamining many things as I am digging in and learning more and more about The Science of Reading. One of those areas is how we fill book boxes for independent reading time. 

How We Have Always Filled Book Boxes

Iโ€™m not sure about you, but filling book boxes and thinking about the text I am giving my readers to read independently was never a college class! Ha ha! It was something that I learned over the years from my fellow teachers, through trial and error, and I made changes as I went. 

Sometimes I let the kids fill their book boxes. I let them book shop and they had some guidelines, but they got to pick the books. You can read more about book shopping in this blog post

Other times I filled their book boxes. I filled then with books from the guided reading table they had already read. I filled them with songs and poems from our shared reading time. 

But like I said I think itโ€™s time toโ€ฆ

Rethink How We Fill Book Boxes for Independent Reading Time 

I donโ€™t think itโ€™s wrong to have leveled readers in their book tubs. 

I donโ€™t think itโ€™s wrong to have songs and poems they can joyfully read and sing in their book tubs. 

But I do think that they need something else

They need decodable books and leveled books in their book tubs. I think there is space for both decodable and predictable books. Space for books that are a novelty and books that have more repetition. Space for books that provide more orthographic value and books that have more sense-making value.  

If you are looking for some wonderful decodable books, I am excited to share that we are busy creating some and they will be here soon! Join the waitlist to find out! 

I think we need to implement more supported book choice. We can support book choice as we are conferring during readerโ€™s workshop. You can offer a selective choice of books and help guide students so that they pick books that do support them where they are. You can have them keep some of their books and trade some so that they arenโ€™t overwhelmed with ALL new books. 

We need continued encouragement of reading something that they have read before, such as a shared reading poem or a morning message you all wrote together. Or even a shared writing experience can be typed up and put into a special folder for kids to reread on their own. 

So letโ€™s reflect: How have you been filling independent book boxes lately? What would you like to change, friend? Or what are you doing that is working well for you? 

Donโ€™t be afraid to make some small tweaks and see how things go. Sometimes making a small change can have a big impact on our students reading. 

If you are ready to start rethinking other parts of your literacy instruction, join us inside Rethinking Guided Reading!

We are all learning and growing so much in our literacy instruction. If you are looking for a place to chat about this or a place to ask questions and grow, join our Facebook Group! Itโ€™s a safe place for us to discuss the changes that are going on and grow together! 

Happy Teaching,



Want to use the latest research to boost your readers during small groups? Thisย FREEย guide is packed with engaging ideas to help them grow!

Hi, I'm Amanda

I’m a K-1 teacher who is passionate about making lessons your studentsย loveย and that areย easy to implementย for teachers.ย ย Helping teachers like you navigate their way through their literacy block brings me great joy. I am a lifelong learner who loves staying on top of current literacy learning and practices. Here, youโ€™ll find the tools you need to move your K-2 students forward!


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