We are a group of 5th grade teachers who are reading and blogging together. Thanks so much for joining us as we read and discuss Readicide. Please leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.

Chapter 3, Avoiding the Tsunami

Readicide Factor: The Over Analysis of Books Creates Instruction That Values the Trivial at the Expense of the Meaningful.

Wow! Imagine that. Great teachers are contributing to readicide! Here’s the recipe:

The Kill-a-Reader Casserole
*Take one large Novel. Dice into as many pieces as possible.
*Douse with sticky notes.
*Remove book from the oven every 5 minutes and insert worksheets
*Add more sticky notes
*Baste until novel is unrecognizable, far beyond well done.
*Serve in choppy bite-size chunks.

Yes, I am guilty. But over the years I have adjusted and found a balance. I changed the way I was teaching because the students did not like reading novel. What? How come? I was teaching the novel the same way I was taught when I was in middle school and high school. Insert “Ah Ha” moment. I hated every single novel I read in school. Why? Because the teachers used the above recipe.

Now I do more pre-reading activities to cover things like vocab, dialect, and any background knowledge that the students need. I use the first couple of chapters to work on the basics of character, setting, theme, cause & effect, etc, etc. and then we read. Yes we do sometimes stop and discuss and I might throw in a fun activity, but most of the activities take place after we have read the book. We sometimes go back and reread a section or page. But I am not disrupting the flow. My students really love the novels now (even the ones I hated as a child).

As we discuss the novels the class somehow always hits on the value of each novel on their own. I am always ready to steer them in a certain direction but rarely need to. As an example we read Sign of the Beaver, the class will bring up the differences in culture and how the Native Americans were treated. I have never needed to bring that up. So by letting them read and enjoy the book it seems that they are able to pick out the valuable lessons. As an educator you know I am bursting with pride when this happens.

Now what do you do with all of the huge, super comprehensive novel study unit that you bought? Total waste of money? No, I still use them. Not every piece every year and I use them in the beginning and at the end. The middle is for reading. I find that we use different worksheets and activities each year. I know my class, what they need, and what will they enjoy? Different groups just need different things. So even though I do not use the whole unit over the course of time I have used most pieces.

Hop on over to The Big Kids Hall and see what she has to say about Readicide.

Interested in joining in? Here's our schedule. We'd love to know what you think.


  1. Good point...the students can and will bring out what is important and relevant to them.

    The Research Based Classroom

  2. I like the idea of saving activities until the very end of the novel and then rereading small passages. This definitely prevents you from interrupting the reading flow...while still helping students dig deeper into the text and learn about those literary devices and story structures.

    The Organized Plan Book

  3. I've noticed that when you teach a fifth grader to actually have polite and critical discussions that they usually step up to the plate and come up with connections on their own that you may have spoon fed them in the past.

    Great Post.

    The Whimsical Teacher

  4. I love your system for teaching novels. Going back and reading select passages after enjoying a novel makes so much more sense then stopping every few pages. And using different piece of a unit depending on your class is so much more worthwhile than doing a lesson because you taught it last year.

    Quinnessential Lessons