The Goldilocks Plan
Choice in literacy activities is a component of reading motivation (Gambrell, 1996; Guthrie & Wigfield, 1997; Oldfather, 1993; Sweet & Guthrie, 1996). Several decades ago, Veatch (1959) suggested that students should self-select reading materials and stressed the importance of teaching selection strategies. The Goldilocks Plan for selecting books was outlined by Ohlhausen and Jepsen (1992). Students are taught, in a series of mini-lessons and individual conferences, how to classify their book selections as too hard, too easy, or just right. A book that was too hard was described as one that the student really wanted to read but knew was too difficult at the time. A book that was just right was one that the student wanted to read and could read, while finding only one or two unknown words per page. A book that was too easy was an old favorite, read many times before.
The Power of the Goldilocks Plan for Struggling Readers
Struggling readers select books that are too difficult for a variety of reasons: (a) the books are about a topic in which they are interested; (b) the books are widely read by their peers, and they want to be part of the reading club; and (c) selection strategies have not been discussed with them. The latter is also one of the reasons that they select books that are too easy, along with the fact that these books provide a comfortable and successful experience. Providing struggling readers with the Goldilocks Plan allows them to:
- Feel confident in their ability to read their self-selected books
- Improve their skills through increased reading experiences
- Read a wider variety of texts
Steps to Follow
- Introduce the concept of too hard, too easy, and just right books.
- Model using your own books, showing examples of books that are too hard, too easy, and just right for you to read.
- Have the students spend time exploring each of these categories of books for themselves.
- In the classroom library, post the questions the students should ask themselves when selecting books using the Goldilocks Plan.
A book is too hard if you answer “yes” to these questions:
- Are there more than two words on a page you don’t know?
- Are you confused about what is happening in most of this book?
- When you read, does it sound pretty choppy?
- Is everyone else too busy and unable to help you?
A book is too easy if you answer “yes” to these questions:
- Have you read it many, many times before?
- Do you understand the story very, very well?
- Do you know (understand, pronounce) almost every word?
- Can you read it smoothly?
A book is just right if you answer “yes” to these questions:
- Is this book new to you?
- Do you understand some of this book?
- Are there just one or two words per page that you don’t know?
© ______ 2006, Allyn & Bacon, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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