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How to Set Up Student Reader’s Notebooks

Organization is so important during reading workshop…for you and your students! While keeping your materials organized maybe a post for another day, keeping your students organized always feels like a daunting task. But it doesn't have to be. A reader's notebook is the holy grail of student organizations. It goes with them wherever they go during reading workshop and serves as one of their most important reference tools.

What is a reader's notebook?

A reader’s notebook is a place for students to develop as readers and build their reading lives throughout the school year.  This is their go-to resource for all things reading!  Students will keep their reading goals, reading responses, reading info, vocabulary, fluency, and reading records.  It is an important tool for students to use throughout reading workshop and will become an important reference as they develop reading strategies.  

How to set up the reader's notebook

For reader's notebooks, I like to use composition notebooks because they fit nicely into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag or folder. I feel they hold up better through the wear and tear they go through during the year.

Now, I know this may be an unpopular opinion, but I have students write on BOTH sides of the notebook pages. Front AND back. *gasp* I don't like to waste any space…it's all prime real estate!

Dividing student notebooks is the first step in helping them stay organized.

To set up reader's notebooks, separate the notebooks into five sections: reading records, reading goals, reading info, reading responses, and vocabulary. The “info” section should be the largest section as they will collect A LOT of information in mini-lessons throughout the year.

Your mini-lessons and independent reading time are carefully planned out and you are filling your student's minds and notebooks with so much information. But, when they just throw everything onto the pages of a notebook, they do not utilize their materials correctly. Separating things into sections will help keep them organized while also making the notebook a useful reference tool that they can refer back to. Your students will have everything they need at their fingertips.

By dividing your reader's notebooks, your students can begin to use each section exactly what it's intended for!

Using the reader's notebook for student success

The reader’s notebook is a one-stop-shop for all things reading!  The contents of the notebook will be important throughout the year as new strategies are learned and practiced.  Keeping a reader’s notebook helps with organization and keeping students accountable as well as teaches responsibility. 

Record Reading

Students can keep records of their reading with a genre chart and checklist of genres read, books that they have read, book favorites. Students will use this section of the book to keep track of the books that they have read and the genres that they enjoy. 

Set goals
  • You will work with students to set reading goals throughout the year during reading conferences.  Goal setting pages will help students keep track of their goals and see the progress that they have made.  Students can check off as they achieve goals in informational text and literature.  Students should bring their reader’s notebooks to conferences to refer back to previous goals and to set new goals. 
Mini Lessons

The ideas section will be the largest section of your reader’s notebook because it is where all the magic happens and students will keep all of the information and strategies learned in mini-lessons.  Any anchor charts that are copied or given to students belong in this section as a reference for students throughout the year. 

Jotting down information from anchor charts or gluing in their own mini anchor charts will turn their reader's notebooks into their own little writing reference books, filled with so much good content! So many reading skills are built upon each other. Having previous anchor charts to look back at teaches your students how to use and build on skills. Your students will become familiar with looking back in their notebook at all of this amazing info.

It helps them stay organzied

Students should respond to reading in a variety of ways throughout the year.  It is very important to stay organized as they will be reading a variety of books and learn to respond to literature and informational text in different ways. 

Learn new vocabulary

Lastly, you can grab a free guide with instructions for each section of the reader's notebook below!

Want to read more about reading workshop?

Read more reading workshop posts here!

And read about setting up writer's notebooks here.

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Happy Reading!

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