Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hunger Games Hysteria: How do we know a book is a good fit for us?

I take notes whenever I go through student work/assessments.  I take note of things I'd like to work on with individual students, and I also take note of patterns I notice across big groups of students.  This is how I came up with our spelling list for this Friday; I noticed a common set of misspelled words and decided that we all needed to be able to spell them correctly when we're writing about our reading.

Another pattern I noticed is that many, many sixth graders are reading or have read recently The Hunger Games.  I'm personally a big Hunger Games fan, but I wondered, based on my experiences with and knowledge of the book (basically: it's a tough read!) whether it might be a good time for us to talk some more about how we know books are good fits for us.

Here's what we talked about together in class:

Why do people choose certain books?

  • Recommendations from friends, family (especially siblings and parents), teacher, librarian
  • Look at bestseller lists
  • Type in a genre they like
  • There's a movie out (example: The Hunger Games)
  • Read/hear reviews

After you choose a book, how do you know it's a good fit? (for independent reading)

Thanks, R, for sharing your table's work!

  • Start out with the good ol' five finger rule.  Each student, and then each group, identified all of the words on page four of The Hunger Games that sixth graders might not understand.  We defined "understand" as "able to explain the word meaning to someone else and then use the word in a new sentence." All groups found at least five tough words on this page; by this rule, Hunger Games is pretty hard.
  • You need to be able to re-tell what you read
  • Make sure you can imagine/visualize what's going on
  • You should be able to read it smoothly/fluently out loud
  • You should be able to make logical predictions
  • You should be able to ask logical questions beyond "What is going on?!?!"
  • You should be able to make notes off to the side or on a sticky
  • If you're trying really hard to understand (like using context clues to understand confusing words), and you're getting frustrated, you should try something else

What do we do if we think it's not a good fit after all?

  • Try listening to it on CD
  • Get an adult to read it to you and talk to you about it
  • Buddy read/check comprehension
  • Read a summary of the book, so you know more about it, but then choose a different independent book
  • Wait a few months/year and try again 
  • Ask someone for books that are similar
    • Hunger Games examples: The Line, The Maze Runner (this one is tough, too!), The City of Ember


  1. We think that you should read at least 50 pages of a book before you abandon it because you cant really decide you don't like it or its not a good fit for you if you only read a few pages. But we do agree that it is important to understand the words in the book.

    -Anne & Jessica 3/4

  2. Thank you for sharing that useful resource for choosing "just right" books! I really like how you have used a thorough list of examples an ideas. I agree that some books are a lot easier to read than to understand. I think that that point is very important!

    Thanks for sharing,
    Caidyn and Kaitlyn 3/4

  3. I agree a lot of the sixth graders are reading the "Hunger Games". Sometimes you only read the book because others tell you to but you may not understand it as well. I read the maze runner and I tried the five finger rule and I knew what it was about but if I did not I would not understand it at all.

    Rowa & Erin

  4. Are the other Hunger Games books as good as the first hunger games book? I read the first Hunger Games book and it was really good, I really liked it! I liked that it was a survival book and the ending was really good.

    -luke tz

  5. We think that the five finger rule is a great strategy to have while reading, and lets you know if the book is not the right fit for you. What are some other strategies to help us know if a book is not the best fit for us?

    -Tatum and Emmalee 3/4

  6. We like you made it about something popular, like The Hunger Games. We could read The Hunger Games fine but the sequels were a bit tougher to read. Are there any book that are about the same reading level as The Hunger Games just a little bit harder?

    -Troy and Carlos ^__^

  7. We found the Five Finger rule to be helpful to use when you try a new book.
    We have used this rule many times before it really helps us when we need to find a just right book.

    By: Alana and Caroline 3/4

  8. Deandre and I read a little of the Hunger Games and we think its a hard book to read. Since its a hard book,it gets confusing and you really have to understand what's going on. We wonder what the other books are like. Are the other books of thee Hunger games hard or easy?

    Joey & Deandre 3/4

  9. We think that THE HUNGER GAMES may be a tough book for some people to read too.We wonder how many people have read THE HUNGER GAMES? Was it hard? I think the five finger rule is a good strategie to find a good book too.

    - Melike and Ana
    period 3/4

  10. I know that there is a war with everyone in the 6th grade.

    I wonder who set that up?

    Who started the war?

    Joey 3/4

  11. We found the good ol' 5 finger rule very useful. I tried to read the book and barely, and I mean barely finished reading it (although it took me around 5-6 months!).

    -Tony & Ed 0_0

  12. We think that the five finger rule is a good idea but in some books they don't have hard words for 6th grader till the middle of the book.

    Why do they do this?

    Jessica S.,Ethan R., and Ben M.
    period 5/7

  13. Our group all agreed that if you have trouble with challenging words and books you probably should not read the Hunger Games. Unless your on the second or third chapter you should read to the middle unless it's really hard in the middle you should try to finish the book.

  14. We think that The Hunger Games is better to read closer to the end of 6th grade or beginning of 7th. If you read it later in the year it will be easier to comprehend. If you think you can read it sooner then first use the 5 finger rule or read the back or the inside cover. Do you think if you are half way through the book and you don't understand it you should stop, or should you just finish it?

    Samia and Nick 5\7

  15. We think that the Hunger Games is a good book but it is also challenging. When it comes to picking a book, we think that you should always try to start by reading the back to see if you are interested in it. Then just like she said, you should try to read the first page and use the "5 Finger Rule."

    Hannah and Joseph

  16. Thank you for posting this very useful resource.
    This can help everyone find a good that just right for us.
    We agree that some books are easier than others, but this skill will
    help us improve are skills to find a good books

    Thank you
    Aurian and Ayaru

  17. I think that the Hunger Games is a good book but by the way its put together this book is not made for 5th grade or below because the vocabulary is too tough, it is violent, and may be disturbing for some people.

    -Reilly, Josh, and Fay

  18. The Hunger Games is a challenging book. Wyatt read the book and thought it was tricky and ended up thinking it was ok. Brigid read the book and thought it was a little challenging but thought it was very good. We think the book is good for kids that are stronger readers and can understand what the book is about. That's why we think the five finger rule is very good to figure out if The Hunger Games is a just right book for other students in sixth grade.

    ~Wyatt, Brigid and Alexandra

  19. The book Huger Games is a really fun and enjoyable. To both of us it was not a very hard book. I recommend the book to all of you who haven't read the book.

    Ali and Yoshi
    Period 5/7

  20. -Kara

    I think that this is good information. But I think you should add a couple more strategies, here are some examples:

    -Find a good resource to help you know if your reading a good book.

    -you can also find a reliable person that has read the book and ask for their opinions.

    That is all I have. Thank you for the other things!! The five finger rule thing is really cool!


    I think that it is a good idea to choose a just right book because then it will be fun to read, and it will be easier to understand. I have chose a book that I was reading for 5 days and was on page 25. Reading is a very important strategy, enjoy it.

  22. We like this post because it gave many details and was very helpful on finding a good fit for you. For example, we liked how it told us things we should do if we don't think it is a good fit for you.

    Colin and Emily 8/9 period

  23. Me and my partner agree that that was a good way to figure out what words should be on the spelling test, and a satisfying way to pick what books kids should read

    - Sean and Cameron X3

  24. Aileigh and lilly

    We think that it is good to talk about †his because in the past we have probably all read one book that we don't understand or is to confusing.

  25. -ELSA PERIOD:8/9

    I agree with Kurt and Delaney,it's good to pick a book you understand. The five finger rule is a great system to use because if you don't understand your book it can't be fun to read.

  26. Why, besides finding five hard words, is the Hunger Games a better book for older kids? In the first paragraph it talks about how people misspelled words, what other words did kids misspell besides the ones Mrs. Taylor gave us on the spelling test? How many people read the Hunger Games in the 6th grade?

    Jaime Nico 8/9

  27. If you choose a right book for you, you will understand it more if you don't you will not understand it.

    By Regan and Ameesha period 8/9

  28. It was a really good book. Grant thinks that fourth graders and younger shouldn't read it because they wouldn't understand it.Jacob thinks that 5th grade and up should because they would understand it.

    Grant and Jacob

  29. The methods we usually use to figure out if a book is just right for us is using the back and inside covers and using the 5 finger rule. We both liked how the blog told us what to do once you figure out that the book is not a good fit for me as a reader. Most people just tell how to know if the book is good for you or not, but this blog told us what to do once you know that the book is not good for you. Are there any other ways to know and figure out if a book is a good fit for me?
    ~Morgan and Lynn~

  30. I like this post because its very helpful.

    Tyler 8/9

  31. Cailyn and Stephanie period 8/9
    Tuesday, October 9, 2012

    We think that, if anyone ever decides to read the hunger games, they should have a dictionary or parent right next to them so they came look up words they don't know so they will understand. The Hunger games is a great book for someone who enjoys adventurous, suspenseful books.

  32. if you thinking about this book and you need to decied between another chose this one if you dont like it lets just say your loco.
    why woul you not like this book?

    kaitlyn mckenzie
    comment if you agree!

  33. Riley and Rayona period 8/9
    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

    We both read The Hunger Games and it is pretty hard. But with the context clues around some of the hard words make it easier to understand the words. Even though there are some hard words, The Hunger Games is a really good book for someone who is up to the challenge!