If you are a reading teacher then I bet it’s pretty safe to say that one of your number one goals is get your students to LOVE reading.
Yes, we have to worry about test scores, and reading levels, and complying with district standards, but we all know that the only way we will accomplish any of these things is if we get our students to truly love reading.
Here are my four favorite tips for promoting a love of reading in the classroom:
Tip 1: Get Excited About New Books
Excitement is contagious. Your attitude about the books in your classroom will spread to your students.
- Open Scholastic Orders or In Front of Kids: I would regularly get new books for our classroom library from scholastic. Anytime a new order came in, I would open up the box in front of my students while they were working independently. I would pull out each book and provide some comment… “Oh I just love this author.”…”I can’t wait to read this book”… “Oh I really think that Brooklyn will love this book.”…”This sounds like it is going to be fascinating.”…Inevitably, this public unpacking of the scholastic box would lead to a mad dash to the classroom library.
My students would be desperate to be one of the first students to read the new books. If you don’t regularly order from Scholastic, no problem. Just put some books in a box and pretend they are new to the library… the unpacking and getting excited about the books is what will create a buzz about books.
- Let your students create a “Library Wishlist”: Another way to get your students excited about reading is if you let them be involved in building your classroom library. Create a space in your classroom library where students can request titles of books they would like to see added. You better believe that if you add a book or series requested by your students, those titles will rarely sit on your library shelves. Students love reading books recommended by other students. Share this list with your parents or create a DonorsChoose grant to help fund these request.
Tip 2: Let Kids Share Books They Love
If we want our kids to love reading, they need to be able to talk about their reading experience with their classmates
- Morning Meeting Book Reviews: In my class, we would hold a morning meeting every single day. I would always try to make these a meaningful part of our day and rather then asking my students “what’s your favorite food” or “where would you go for your dream vacation?” I started using my morning meeting time as a place to discuss books, favorite authors, or genres.
At least once a week I would ask my kids to share a book they were reading and what they thought of it. This was a great way to encourage accountability and students loved getting recommendations from their classmates on what to read next.
- Student Read Alouds: I love encouraging upper elementary teachers to use more picture books in their classrooms. It is important for upper elementary students to not only be reading chapter books but also read a variety of picture books. Picture books are one of the best teaching tools to use when it comes to our reading instruction. I want my students to be reading picture books independently.
One way I do this is to let my students do picture book read alouds. A few times a week I will let students share a picture book that they have been reading that they really enjoy. I don’t let them read the whole thing, but I will have them read the first few pages aloud to the class. This helps students build their fluency, and it also helps create some book buzz for that specific picture book. Usually students will want to find out what happens next and students will beg to be the next one to read that specific book.
Tip 3: Don’t Isolate Reading
I did my best to try to incorporate picture books and meaningful texts into every single subject area.
- Introduce new concepts with picture books: It can be really tempting to only read to our kids during “reading”. But if you really want your kids to love reading, then they need to be exposed to books all the time. I loved using mentor texts as part of our writer’s workshop. We wouldn’t necessarily read the entire text, but I was constantly introducing my students to wonderful stories during our writing lesson. I also regularly used books to introduce new math or grammar concepts. There are so many great texts out there that span multiple content areas. Consider using picture books as a way to introduce new topics in other content areas.
Tip 4: Read More
And the absolute best way to get your kids to love reading is to read to them more often then you currently are.
- Daily Reading Challenge: One of my college professors said that she used to place a stack of 5-7 picture books on her desk each day. She would make it her goal to read those books to her students. Not for the purpose of teaching them any specific lesson, but for the sole purpose of letting them enjoy a story. She said she would determine the success of each day depending on whether she made it through the stack of books or not.
- Stop. Drop. and Read: Another way to get your students reading more is to randomly incorporate a Stop, Drop and Read routine into your classroom. You can do this once or twice a week. And Stop, Drop and Read is exactly like it sound. Randomly select a time during your day to stop whatever it is your doing and have all your students start reading. You could do this in the middle of your math lesson or during a transition or right when you come back from recess. Students will love the suspense of not knowing when the Stop, Drop and Read is coming, and it’s a fun way to add in some extra reading time for your kiddos. You don’t need to do it for long – 10-15 minutes is perfect. And if you really want to create some excitement, make this a student job for the day/week and let your students decide when they want to Stop, Drop and Read.
The reality is that no matter how many times a day you are currently reading to your kids, you can always read more. Get creative with how you can bring new books and stories into your classroom. The more you read, the more your students will LOVE Reading.
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Reading Genre Inventory
This reading inventory is a fun way to help students figure out what genre they should read next! Students can go through this “choose your own genre” inventory several times and get different answers each time. It’s such a fun way to help students explore different genres.
We’ve got tons of ideas for turning your students into “wild readers!” Be sure to check out these other helpful ideas for upper elementary teachers!
Developing a “Love of Reading” ATTITUDE // Tarheelstate Teacher
3 Easy Ways to Instill a Love of Books with Students // Think Grow Giggle
Strategies to Help Motivate Reluctant Readers // The Little Ladybug Shop
Using Picture Books in Science // Samson’s Shoppe
Creating a Passion for Reading During Science // The Owl Teacher