There used to be a collection of free, downloadable bookmarks that I offered on my TPT store with good reading quotes printed on the back. When I closed the store, I lost the files because I forgot to save them. However, I have never tried to recreate the bookmarks because I am 100% in love with a bookmark system created by California teacher DeAnna Murrillo.

If you have a good-sized classroom library that your students dip into for independent reading, you’ll want to be able to keep track of their reading habits in a non-intrusive manner. There are lots of more intrusive techniques like reading logs that are not recommended by proponents of independent reading. In a future newsletter I will discuss some of the techniques I use to bring reluctant readers over the bridge into “reading land” while not creating punishing reading activities for my students who are already enjoying their independent reading. These bookmarks play a part in that system.

The problem with traditional bookmarks is that they fall out when the next class comes in and opens up the books. There are multiple students reading any specific paperback over the course of the day. Kids got so frustrated that their bookmarks were constantly getting lost!

DeAnna's Book Marks

DeAnna’s system uses Clip-Rite Solid Clip-Tabs from Staples (office supply store), which have paper clips built into the tab to fasten it securely to the page. She then attaches a photo of each student to the paper clip tab, which does not fall out. When the bookmarks are fastened into the book, each student’s face appears to be peeking out of the books. It is adorable.

This system is useful because it is so easy for the teacher to check what everyone is reading. When I want to conference with a student, I track their reading for a few days before talking to them. Sometimes if I know that I plan to conference with a student in 3rd period, I’ll be reading his book during 2nd period. That way I always appear knowledgeable about all of the books in my library. Don’t judge me! There are books in my library that I have not read, written by publishers that I trust. During the conference I quietly ask about what happened previously in the book while other students are reading. Often, I’ll also have the student orally translate a small section that he has already read so that I can track their reading accuracy. This is a technique that I learned from Brett Chonko.

Another useful reason to have a system like this is it becomes crystal-clear which books are read frequently and which books are not so successful in your library. The frequently read books can be displayed on a “best-sellers” table. You can keep an eye on when they get frayed and need to be replaced. The less read books may deserve a few extra book talks to introduce your students to them.

Once you build a large class library, you’ll want to separate the books into sections by theme. I still include copies of my “best-sellers” on the easiest to reach table, but I also have separate locations for sports, manga, animal books, non-fiction, the Orca Soundings books for my advanced readers, and a few other thematic areas. I know that the Japanese manga translated into Spanish will have a limited readership, so I don’t need to place them on the best-sellers table. Instead, I introduce the Japanese comic books during a book talk and my otakus (people obsessed with manga) gravitate to that area on their own.

And finally, the bookmarks look hilarious. They bring a smile to my face every time I see my students faces peeking out of the books in the class library.