When my youngest son was in kindergarten, he loved the Mystery Reader program that his teacher implemented. With the room mom coordinating this weekly event, there was very little work that the classroom teacher had to do. Now, I have never hosted such an event in my classroom, but I was so impressed with this series that it got me thinking: if I were to use this in my classroom, how would I go about organizing it? Let me preface my plan with this: I was one of the mystery readers and the excitement of the students was incredible! Each week, my son would ask me if it was Thursday yet because he knew that was Mystery Reader Day! The kids loved, loved this activity!
What is a Mystery Reader Program?
A read-aloud activity where guest readers visit the classroom to share a favorite book. The identity of the reader is kept a secret until the reader enters the classroom on the scheduled day. The reader can bring along props, a simple craft, or a snack that is related to the book. Or, the guest reader can simply visit the classroom and read aloud.
Why Implement a Mystery Reader Program?
Because it is FUN for the kids, the classroom teacher, and the guest reader! We all know the benefits of reading aloud to our students. Changing things up a bit and inviting guest readers into the classroom adds variety, exposes students to other readers whose style will obviously be different than the classroom teacher, builds excitement for reading, as the kids do not know who the reader will be, and models for students that adults other than teachers read!
How Does It Work?
I am a firm believer in the K.I.S.S. principle: Keep It Super Simple. Here's how it worked in my son's classroom. The room mom coordinated the program for the entire year. She used Sign Up Genius to schedule guest readers for the school year. The classroom teacher dedicated each Thursday afternoon from 2:30-3:00 as Mystery Reader Day. An email was sent to all parents with a link to the Sign Up Genius site. Parents could volunteer themselves or schedule a grandparent, family friend, older sibling, neighbor, etc. The benefit of using Sign Up Genius is that it is paperless, it is easy to see who has volunteered, it is FREE, and the volunteer receives an automatic email reminder about the day they are scheduled to be a mystery reader. The only disadvantage of using this website to schedule your readers is that not all parents will have Internet access.
No worries, for you can post a sign up sheet outside your classroom and/or send home a paper copy. I would also add, that I would send an email to the school faculty and staff inviting them to volunteer as well. This would include inviting other teachers, the administration, secretaries, the guidance counselor, custodians, and even older students! Click here for a FREE, sample letter you can send home to parents, post outside your classroom, or place in faculty/staff mailboxes.
** Graphics used in the letter: My Cute Graphics, Kathy Law, Kevin and Amanda, A Cupcake for the Teacher
The only thing left for you or your room parent to do is to schedule the guest readers and to make sure that readers share a new book, so you do not have any repeats.
A few days before the mystery reader arrives, have students practice their inferencing skills by trying to guess the identity of the reader using the clues they provided. Click the picture below to download an inferencing handout (I like to project the document onto my interactive white board) I created and a poster you can display on Mystery Reader Day.
Afterwards, you could have students write a thank you letter to the mystery reader and discuss whether students' predictions were correct.
The sky is the limit with this fun activity that promotes reading for fun and provides good role models for kids!
Do you use a Mystery Reader program in your classroom? Share ideas as to what has been successful!