Free Voluntary Reading (or FVR) is a time for students to choose something to read and, well… read! FVR can be as common of a routine in your classroom as you would like for it to be. Maybe that’s daily, a few times a week, monthly, or whatever works for you! In my classroom, we have reading time daily, but only FVR 3 days of the week. I like to have my FVR days during the middle of the week so students can read back-to-back days. We read for about 8 minutes most days that we have FVR time. Some days students are really into and we go longer, because, why not?! But – FVR time CAN be a classroom management nightmare. This post is to help share some tips and tricks for FVR to help it run as smoothly as possible. Every tip or trick might not work for you and your situation – and that’s totally fine! These are things that have worked for me over the years!
Tip 1 – Using Bins! I have a “shoe box” bin for each class. These “shoe box” bins hold enough books even for my 35 person classes! This helps students easily, and quickly find the book that they are currently reading – and it keeps my library neat! I used to have students grab them from the library every day, but quickly realized that means books don’t get put back in the right spot and it took students forever to find their book! These bins have been a game changer! I also have a “shared” bin for when someone in multiple classes is reading the same copy of a book.
Tip 2 – Sorting books by author & labeling them for levels. I have my shelves by author and then easiest to hardest. Sometimes my “easy” or “hard” doesn’t align with the publisher rating. A lot of times publishers assume these books are being read by older students (I.e. not 10 years old) so things that determine ease (like cognates) no longer apply for my students because they don’t have that high of an English level yet. This is why I would highly recommend reading books before putting them in your library. It allows you to check for content AND to check for leveling of the book.
Tip 3 – Have a variety of choices! Sheer volume of books is great – but do you have a variety? A variety of styles, genres, topics, levels, authors, representation, etc? When you start to take all of these things into account, the “choices” diminish quickly for students! I’m constantly on the look out for “new” in all categories to add to me library – check out my current library lists here. Some links are affiliate links.
Tip 4 – Have a designated reading area. This isn’t an option for everyone, but if you have the option, I highly encourage you to head to Facebook Marketplace or NextDoor and find some beanbags / alternate seating for your reading area! I ended up getting all of mine for free by playing the “teacher” card! 1 or 2 here and there will add up quickly! If you don’t have the option to have a designated reading area – maybe you can let students sit on the floor? Sit with a friend? Something to make reading time unique and desirable!
Tip 5 – Keep a list! While bins help me (and students!) keep up with what books are being read, it’s not a perfect solution. With multiple classes and 35, there is still confusion. Some kids just can’t seem to remember what book they read literally 24 hours before no matter what you do. This year, in addition to implementing the bins, I also added a Schoology Form for “what book I’m currently reading”. When students finish a book, they now let me know so I can update my list AND they update that form so they can just click on it and see what book they’re currently reading! I do keep a back up list – but it’s mostly to keep track of what books they have read throughout the year.
I hope some of these tips and tricks are helpful for you! If you have any other tips and tricks to making FVR Time run smoothly drop a comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org