How did you choose this book?

This post is part of our ongoing series called Power Language for Conferring.  To learn more about the series and find a quick link to our previous posts, please visit the Power Language page on this site.

Today’s power language for conferring:  How did you choose this book?

Choose Book

When do we use language like this? Since learning to find texts that they truly care about and want to read is such a critical component of self-selected independent reading, this is one of our favorite questions with readers at all ages and stages of development.

There are many entry points for using this power question in a conference. Sometimes we lead with this question, hoping to uncover the thinking – the how, the why, the skills and the strategies – readers have (or have not) used in their book selection. Sometimes we quickly see that a reader is bubbling over with excitement about the book they’re reading, and we ask this question encouraging them reflect on the strategies they used to find it, so they’ll be able to replicate them again in the future. Other times, the opposite is true, and we suspect a reader is not very engaged with the text in their hands at all. In that case we use this question to help us (and them) figure out what has gone wrong and what additional book finding strategies might be of value in the future. When it doubt, we believe you simply can’t go wrong by asking a reader how they came to choose the book in front of them. 

What makes this language so powerful? The primary reason we love this question so much is because we know that every book choice tells a story and every story we come to know about the reader beside us helps us to nurture a more vibrant reading life.

The art of using conferring to nurture vibrant reading lives is built on learning to follow where the reader leads. In our book, To Know and Nurture a Reader, we explore how to follow readers in each of four intentional directions: book choice, healthy reading habits, strategic reading process,  authentic response. All four are critical to the development of every reader, but without solid book choice skills in place, everything else – engagement, meaning-making, problem solving, response – will always be at risk of falling apart.  So, we lean heavily on this question because we want to know how each reader came to choose the book in front of them. We ask because we want to affirm and remind them of strategic actions they’re already taking. And we ask because we want to offer our sincere partnership in bolstering these skills whenever there are signs of trouble. 

What are some variations of this question?

  • Please share a bit about how and why you picked this book?
  • I’m wondering, what made you decide to choose this book?
  • Tell me more about what you were thinking as you decided on this book. 

We want to hear from you! We hope you’ll join our conversation about power language for conferring. We’d love to know your thoughts about this question.  Have you tried it? What happened? What other questions do you rely on to get the conference started? We’d want to hear from you. You can add a comment below, send us a tweet (@Kari_Yates and @ChristinaNosek ), or jump over to our new Facebook group (To Know and Nurture a Reader), and join the conversation there.

Thank you for joining us on this joyful quest to know and nurture every learner through conferring.

Kari and Christina

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To learn more about the art and the science of this little conversation called a conference, check out our new book, To Know and Nurture a Reader: Conferring with Confidence and Joy from Stenhouse Publishing.


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