Take-Home Reading is a special program for 1st grade that helps each and every child become a better reader. Learning to read takes a lot of practice, and I expect my students to read at home. In just twenty minutes per day, parents and family members help their 1st graders by listening to them read.
Read on to learn more about Take-Home Reading programs and to find out how to set one up in your classroom.
Take-Home Reading programs keep parents informed about their child’s reading progress and provide a structure for parents to help their children develop the beginning reading skills necessary to become fluent readers. Early in the year, I limit the choice of books that my 1st grade students can take home. Often, Take-Home books are ones we have read during guided reading. Occasionally, the children will choose a book from a leveled collection of books.
As students progress as readers, more books are added to this collection. I monitor the student’s choice to be sure it is appropriate. Monday through Thursday, each student selects a book and brings the book home in a Take-Home Reading envelope. My only requirements are that students have a backpack large enough to carry the books to and from school, and that they demonstrate responsibility in the classroom and at home when handling Take-Home Reading materials. The student reads the book to the parent, and then the parent initials the homework calendar to show that the book has been read. The book is returned the next day and a new one is chosen.
Set Up a Take-Home Reading Program
To start, choose a variety of books for the Take-Home Reading program. Decide if these books will be kept separate from the classroom library. My Take-Home books include books that have been read in guided reading and additional books that I have leveled and sorted by Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) levels. For the first half of the year, these Take-Home books are kept in four baskets for ease of student access.
Introduce the program in a letter to families. This letter helps parents understand the expectations, their role in the program, and the importance of reading at home.
Establish a procedure for checking the books in and out. Upon arrival each day, my students unpack their books and return them to the correct Take-Home Reading basket. Try Scholastic’s Read to Your Bunny printable for additional ideas.
Students store their books in a Take-Home Reading envelope. I use the student take-home envelopes from Really Good Stuff. These durable folders are a bit pricey, but they last all year. These folders also have double pockets and the design allows me to change the cover sheet to reflect the color of the leveled book collection.
Establish a routine for choosing a Take-Home book. My students organize their Take-Home Reading folders at the end of our language arts block. Students select or are given the Take-Home Reading books and record the date and book title on a book log that is kept in the classroom. This book log allows students to review what they are reading and provides a reference in case a book is accidentally not returned to school the next day.
Allow for parent feedback and write comments to parents on occasion to note student progress. Share ideas with parents to encourage reading at home. For more information, the Scholastic Parent article "Seven Ways to Build a Better Reader for Grades 1–2" provides easy steps to bolster reading skills.
Do you send books home with your students to read to their families? If so, please share your ideas with us.