When I first started teaching one thing bothered me a lot about when our reading block rolled around. The lack of engagement and that the kids were uninterested in the stories being taught frustrated me.
As someone who describes themselves as a reader and a book lover, of course reading would be the subject that would interest me the most to be teaching. However, the basal text and what was required of using that basal didn’t help me much. I honestly couldn’t even get as excited about our reading block as I wanted because I knew how the kids felt.
When I asked them about the textbook, they told me the stories were “too hard,” “not fun,” and “boring.” Now not every story WAS boring or too hard, but the use of the basal text as our main focus of reading instruction to me seemed very flawed.
I thought back on my own education. The reading instruction in my elementary education I remember had to do with read aloud, interesting and fun ones. It also included reading novels. I remember my Kindergarten teacher who used to make every picture book she read to us so exciting. She had a real purse like Lily in Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse and dressed up as Miss Viola Swamp from Miss Nelson is Missing and totally had us believe she was missing. I wanted that. I wanted to be that teacher that made reading EXCITING and ENGAGING. I wanted to read stories that the kids wanted to hear.
So I set out, after learning about Balanced Literacy and the importance of read alouds to find a program that allowed me to reach my goal.
I came across Rooted in Reading. Created by Amy Lemons and Katie King, the Rooted in Reading Units contained everything I needed and wanted. I bought the August unit immediately and poured through the resources! Each monthly unit contains lessons for four different read aloud books, has a variety of resources for each book including writing and grammar. Thrilled, I ran to show my principal and ask if I could give up the basal text the next year in order to exclusively use Rooted in Reading as my main ELAR curriculum in addition to doing Guided Reading.
Her response was yes, and I was overjoyed. I couldn’t wait to use the units the next school year.
Throughout this past school year, I read the majority of the books listed in the Rooted in Reading curriculum. I could tell the difference in the way my students this year responded to our reading time and those from last year. I could tell they actually enjoyed the stories and were engaged in them. The below photo was an activity from one of the questioning cards where the students curled up as if in a box for a minute to relate to Henry (one of their favorite activities) in Henry’s Freedom Box. My students this year loved when they heard the magic word to move to our reading area because they knew I was getting ready to read to them.
Rooted in Reading provides you with everything you need to make your reading block awesome. It gives you reading strategies, posters, questioning cards, weekly lesson plans (which I did change and tailor to fit me personally), anchor charts, writing practice for your kids, and a lot of activities that go with the books each week (think comprehension quiz, vocabulary, etc.). I used the extra activities that went along with each story for our reader’s notebook or for center activities during Guided Reading.
You’re probably wondering about grammar…right? I mentioned it I know, but YES, Rooted in Reading includes everything you need to teach grammar as well.
It gives you different ideas and strategies to teach whatever your grammar focus is that week. The units made teaching grammar fun, for me and the kids. You also get grammar anchor chart ideas, posters, and a variety of activities for each week.
If you’re wondering, yes each weekly unit contains the Common Core or TEKS standards so you know you’re covering everything throughout the year to meet your ELAR standards.
I follow Amy Lemons and Katie King on Instagram so I know the time and effort they put into these units. This is not me advertising at all, this is from my experience using these units.
I am a forever fan of Rooted in Reading because it put enjoyment back into my reading block for my students. By the end of the year, they had a list of their favorite book and the majority of them came from Rooted in Reading. Anyone looking to revamp or spice up their instruction while upping engagement should look into these monthly units (or the bundle).
My last note is that the books for each week are AMAZING! There was never a dull book. The books chosen for the units are all awesome to plainly put it. The books will definitely add something to your classroom library. There are even supplemental book recommendations in the RIR intro document that contains books worth investing in as well.
To Amy and Katie, thank you for your time and effort creating these units. They have made a difference in my classroom.