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I've found something that works really well with my fifth and sixth graders for the 
end of the year...Sustained Silent Reading.  I introduce the unit by telling them 
that they aren't going to BELIEVE how much they will look forward to library in the 
next few weeks.  I talk about their busy lives and upcoming graduation, and then I 
tell them that for the next few weeks they will come to library and read.  And not 
just ANY book.  Books that I have read myself and that I know will grab them.

I prepare a cart with some of my favorites on a variety of reading levels.  I give 
each child a bookmark with their name on it.  Only the books from the cart may be 
selected and they have to STAY in library.  I have the students look through the 
books for the first ten minutes until they find one they think they will ilke.  
Then when they enter the next time, they  gather their books a few at a time, and 
then sit and read.  I have a few places in the library with couches and chairs, and 
I tell them that when I see they are really engaged in their story I'll call their 
name and they can choose to sit on the couch.  Not every one gets called every 
time.  When class is done they put the bookmark in their place until the next time. 

This works on a variety of levels.  First, it gives them some time to "cool down" 
from the end of the year pressures in a very enjoyable way.  The second week I 
allow ipods or headphones if they like to listen to music as they read.  I will 
also had out rewards.... lolipops, or hard candy, but only intermittantly, it keeps 
them on their toes.  And lastly, it is so satisfying to look on a class of usually 
unruly 6th graders (not all year long, just in May!) and see them all stretched out 
and reading.  There are all kinds of articles in support of Sustained Silent 
Reading, and we usually don't have time for it.  Try it now, I bet it will work for 
you too.

Betty Picone, Media Specialist
Fredon Elementary School
459 Rt. 94
Newton, NJ 0786

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