Franki Sibberson: Knowing Yourself as a Reader

Franki Sibberson, K–5 school librarian, now teaches third grade. She is the author of Beyond Leveled Books, Still Learning to Read, Day-to-Day Assessment in the Reading Workshop, and The Joy of Planning. She is also a regular contributor to Choice Literacy. You can reach her on Twitter @frankisibberson or through her blog, A Year of Reading. Franki recently wrote an essay for our Open a World of Possible initiative, which we've repurposed here on the blog. The full version is also available in our Open a World of Possible book, which you can download for free here.

I am working with our fourth and fifth graders about really knowing themselves as readers. I gave them a basic reading interview to help them begin to look at their reading lives. Then I asked them to turn it over to write 100 things about themselves as readers. I tried to do the same. None of us got to 100, but we might by the end of the year if we keep noticing and adding. Here is my list so far:

1. I read almost every Nancy Drew book when I was in sixth grade. My grandmother had the collection in her attic.

2. I loved the Betsy books by Carolyn Hayward when I was in elementary school.

3. Realistic fiction is my favorite genre.

4. No one is allowed to talk to me or bother me during the last ten pages of a book. Endings are key for me.

5. I have to love the main character in a book to enjoy the book.

6. I occasionally enjoy science fiction and fantasy.

7. When I was younger, I loved the Bookmobile that parked right down the street from our home every two weeks.

8. Walk Two Moons is one of my favorite books of all time.

9. I have a shelf of books that I haven’t yet read. I like to have back-ups in case of a snowstorm or for some other reason that would give time to read.

10. I often skip parts in books when scenery or nature is described.

11. I am not so good at listening to books on tape. I get distracted. I like to see the print.

12. I almost never like the movie better than the book.

13. I never read a book after I’ve seen the movie.

14. I like to read books that are brand new—hot off the press!

15. I don’t get excited about having authors autograph my books.

16. I don’t really like to share my favorite books. I want my friends to read them, but I really like to keep favorites after I am finished with them.

17. I like to alternate between long and short books.

18. I like to read children’s fiction on airplane trips.

19. I can’t read in the car. I get carsick.

20. I rely on blogs and other reviews to choose children’s books.

21. I have many favorite authors.

22. I love to hear authors speak and share their work.

23. I love Young Adult books but never have time (or give myself time) to read them.

 24. Many graphic novels are hard for me to read and understand.

25. My mother read me The Secret Garden and A Little Princess when I was little; they are still two of my favorite books.

26. Most of my nonfiction reading is connected to my work.

27. I have very little patience for reading how-to books or directions.

28. I love, love, love to hang out in any bookstore.

29. I buy too many books.

30. I love to visit new bookstores when I travel.

31. I am convinced that Cover to Cover in Columbus, Ohio, is the best children’s bookstore in the country.

This is a really fun thing to do—I know as the year progresses, I will notice more aspects about myself as a reader and I will add them to my list. Who knows if I will get to 100. It is just an entertaining and informative way to think about my reading life—what works for me as a reader and what doesn’t. If you try this, let me know how it goes. When I hear other people’s lists, they remind me of things I hadn’t thought about myself.