Independent Reading Tools Series: The Book "Baggie"

Posted by Amanda Miller on

In our next series of blog posts, we will explore tools that students might use to help them manage the materials and their thinking around their independent reading. Let’s start with the question we all might think about when students are selecting their own reading materials: “Where are they going to put their books?” 

The Book “Baggie”

Imagine your students walking into the classroom library and choosing books they are comfortable with and excited to read. They dig around on your shelves, examining covers and blurbs on the books. They investigate the topics to see if they are of interest. When they have made those selections and are ready to head back to their seat, does an image like this pop into your head?


Book shopping is sort of like going to the grocery store. When we walk into the store, we snag a cart or basket inside the door because we don’t want to try to carry our items in our arms. When students are shopping for their weekly reading materials, they too need a “cart” to hold their materials. Some teachers like to offer Ziploc bags. Other options could include magazine boxes, or rectangular Tupperware containers. So, the term Book “Baggie” is really synonymous for any receptacle that will hold books (book boxes, book tubs, book bin, etc).

Book "Baggies" actually serve another purpose other than to hold a reader’s materials. They can actually help the reader plan. Again, think of the grocery store. Many of us probably try to plan for what we would like to eat through the week. Typically when we don't plan for the week, we find ourselves in the store nearly every day. We often become impulsive with what we select and end up choosing items that might not be a good fit for us. 

The same thing applies for our independent readers. When they are selecting their books, we want to encourage them to plan carefully for what and how much they want to read for the week instead of each day. If a reader is going to the bookshelf or classroom library every day, then it might make the teacher wonder about the reader’s planning of their reading work. It might be tricky to determine if the student is abandoning books or if they need more support picking books that match the kind of reading work they want to practice. The Book “Baggie” can hold as many books as they think they might read for the week!

As with any materials introduced to students, we might consider different routines in our classrooms to support it.

Teaching Routines for Book “Baggies”

Consider how students can independently access their materials. Do you want them to be stored in the desk, on top of the desk, on the back of their chairs?

Consider the reading work that is being taught and the materials readers might need to practice. Here are a few items to think about:

  • Community Texts: If the class reads things together such as poems, articles, or magazines, those could be materials that students might want in their bags. If those materials are paper copies, folders that house them could fit nicely into the baggie.
  • Sight Word Cards: If a reader has sight words they are working on, sight word cards could also go into the baggie for the reader to practice during independent reading time. 

  • Reading plans: Students might need support with deciding what order in which they want to read their books. If they have other items in their Book "Baggie" they might need a “menu” to help them navigate how to use those materials each independent reading sitting. Here are a few examples of reading plan tools that have been added to Book "Baggies":

We would love to hear from you about ways you help your students organize their independent reading materials. Snap a picture of what is working for your students and share it with us and the reading community on Twitter @Kaeden_Books and on Facebook at Kaeden Publishing! 


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