Using Rocky Mountain Books in the Classroom
by Heather Willms
There are so many excellent books available that I have to carefully choose what I read to my students, and what I have my students read. I think that the Rocky Mountain Book Award program is valuable in several ways. First, children select the winning book. This empowers readers and also introduces them to the world of literature awards. Secondly, it introduces me (the teacher) to what is new in Canadian children’s literature. It is hard to keep up with what is current and quality, and the Rocky Mountain Book Award committee does some of that work for me.
I use the Rocky Mountain Books in my classroom in the following ways:
I introduce the program early in the school year. I begin by reading one of the picture books to the class. Our library is fortunate enough to be able to purchase all of the books, so I show the students each book and tell them a little about it. I show the students the poster and post it in my classroom.
Our librarian keeps the Rocky Mountain Books separated from other books in the library. This allows students t o choose a Rocky Mountain Book intentionally.
I incorporate the Rocky Mountain books into my Passport to Reading program during the mont h of Medal Winning Books. During this month students are permitted to read a Rocky Mountain book, rather than a Newberry winner.
I always read one novel aloud to the class. This requires careful selection , as not all novels are suitable for reading aloud.
Over the next few months I read all of the picture books to the class. Some years there are more picture books than others, and some picture books take longer than others to read.
My advanced readers are encouraged to read and write reviews for the R ocky Mountain Website. This provides them with an extending activity when they have completed their work early, and gives them a good reason to keep reading.
Students are asked to read at least one book on their own.
I always allow class time to vote.