I think interest inventories are a fantastic classroom tool to help teachers begin to understand students and their reading background. I’ve used them in my classroom at the beginning of the year, however, this past year the results were rather upsetting. The students I worked with were below level readers which caused them to become reluctant readers. The responses I received to questions like “What kind of books do you like to read?” were “None, I don’t like to read” or “I don’t read.” After doing some exploring and looking at various interest inventories, I’ve started to understand it’s all in the wording. To start, I don’t need to find out what exact books my students like, but what subjects do they enjoy gaining information about or involving themselves in. Understanding the subjects they enjoy (and of course their independent reading levels) will help open up doors and allow them to be successful with reading. These reluctant readers are automatically turned off by the mention of “reading” and “books” that they often don’t open up. I have to find ways to get them interested and engaged in reading to where they become more likely to want to read. Therefore, after taking these students into consideration, I’ve created the following interest inventory:
Reading Interest Inventory
- What do you like to do outside of school?
- What do you like to learn about?
- Where do you get the information for the things you like to learn about?
- What is your favorite school subject and why?
- What would you like to learn more about this school year?
- What do you want to be when you grow up?
- What kind of things do you like to read?
- If you were going to start a movie/tv club, what kind of movies/shows would your club watch?
- Where is your favorite place to read at home? At school?
Complete these sentences:
- The best book I’ve read is _________________________________________.
- The best book someone read to me is __________________________________.
- When I hear the work reading I think of ________________________________.
- Tell me three words that describe what reading feels like.
__________________ _____________________ ____________________
- Please circle the topics below that sound interesting to you.
Animals Sports Funny stories Science Fairy tales Historical stories People your age Poetry History Math Famous People Mysteries Health Adventure Stories Music Fantasy World Cultures Scary Stories Cooking Art
Along with the websites provided to help in creating an interest inventory, I found this resource for upper elementary/middle school students: http://www.lkdsb.net/program/elementary/intermediate/di/students.html
The questions start off more geared toward personal interests and then I’ve mixed in some that are specific to reading and books. I’m hoping by putting the questions in this order, they’ll be more likely to answer honestly and provide a foundation to begin their year reading in a personal and positive manner.
I’d also like to send home a reading interest inventory for parents to fill out to gather more background information on the student as a reader at home.
Parents Reading Interest Inventory:
Dear Parents and Guardians,
Welcome to a new school year! I look forward to working with your student. Our class will be working on our reading skills all year, during school as well as at home. Your support is greatly appreciated at home. As we begin our school year, I would like to find out what kind of reading your student does at home. Please take a moment to fill out the survey below and send it back as soon as possible.
- How much time does your student spend (on average) reading at home during the week?
- What kind of reading does your student do? (Books, magazines, websites, etc)
- Where does your student get their reading material? (School library, Public Library, Home, etc)
- What are your student’s interests outside of school?
- Does your student discuss books with you? What kind of discussion about books have you had?
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or call the school directly. Thank you for your support and cooperation!
Using this letter, I hope to make parents/guardians aware of the importance of reading in our classroom and get them thinking about their own involvement with their student’s reading. Both of these reading interest inventories would be conducted at the beginning of the school year to get started with finding books for independent reading. The first week of school is always dedicated to getting to know the students and for them to understand what is expected from them during the school year. This interest inventory as well as classroom discussion the first week on activities outside of class can lend an insight into what the students may prefer to read. By understand what students’ interests are, “we can guide students to select books from the classroom library that will allow them to become engaged readers” (Moss & Young, 2010, p. 56).
Now, is my classroom library sufficient? It’s not to where I would like it to be, that’s for sure. I think we will always be working toward a more sufficient classroom library. There are so many materials out there and our classroom dynamic is always changing. I was fortunate to receive several tubs of books from a teacher who retired. She taught elementary and many of the books are 2nd through 4th reading level. However, this has worked out in my classroom because many of my students are low readers. My classroom library has a range of texts including fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, a few magazines, and some picture books. Although I have a wide variety of books, many of the books are considered “old” by my students (apparently 1990’s is old) because of their appearance. I’ve started collecting books from yard sales, amazon.com, and discount stores to increase my collection of “newer” books. When the school has our book fair, I’ll follow my students and see what books they pick up, carry around, or point out to each other. These are some the books I try to purchase for my library.
Mainly my classroom library consists of various fiction books that are geared more towards girls, but I feel it is missing non-fiction books and books geared toward boys. I have a subscription to National Geographic Kids which has proved to be an excellent resource for all students. I have some multicultural books, for example Esperanza Rising, but feel the classroom library could benefit from some more of these as well. My classroom library also has many award winning books, such as the Caldecott and Newbery Award books. Thinking about my students from this previous year helps project the types of books for next year. Although every group of students is different, I can take the main things I know I need more and begin there. I would like to obtain more sport oriented books and Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine. I’d also like to get more biographical and informational books on various topics. Coming of age stories are wonderful for the age group I teach and I think they’d be a perfect fit for my classroom library. Again, our classroom libraries are always growing and changing as our students do.
Moss, B. & Young, T. A. (2010). Creating lifelong learners through independent reading. Neward, DE: International Reading Association.