She was so excited when she held up one of the books and said, "Look! I can read it! I can read the whole book!"
The student who said that knows some sight words and is just beginning to merge letter sounds to form words. She was referring to one of the books from my kindergarten sight word set that she had in her reading folder. Isn't that what we all want to hear from our beginning readers?
I usually have students take home the little books that we make. However, for a few years, I gave each child a folder and we kept the books in there to reread during transition times. It worked very well and provided each child with individualized, repeated practice. Then, for some reason I don't remember, I stopped using the folders for the last two years. But this year I have a class that I think will particularly benefit from rereading the books, so I brought back the reading folders. I am so glad that I did!
I send some of the books home and we keep others for the reading folder. During transition times, I might ask them to get their reading folder and take it to their desk to read. Depending on the time we have, I go around and read books with a few students. Whether or not I get to read with a particular student, I can still hear them reading!
Of course, the folders make differentiation easy, too. Some students might have version 1 of my sight word books in their folder, or version 2, or a beginning reader from another set. A few students also have CVC word family books. It really depends on the skill that student is working on. This semester, some are focusing on merging letter sounds, others on sight word recognition, and one group is working on fluency.
If you aren't already using reading folders--or, like me, you have stopped using them--then let me encourage you to give them a try. They are really working well for my class this year and even make transition times a little easier. They also provide an alternative activity if we have a spare ten minutes.