5 Ways to Encourage Independent Reading

Teachers are tasked with a lot when it comes to ensuring that students can read. After all, reading is the key to success or failure in nearly every subject being taught in schools today. There are many foundational skills that must be taught in order for students to be able to read fluently and comprehend. At the same time, it’s important that students be motivated to read and become lifelong readers. Here are a few ways that you can move beyond the basics to encourage students to be independent readers.

1. Read aloud

Reading aloud to students of all ages provides them many benefits. This is perhaps one of the most important ways to help students learn to read. Through read-alouds, teachers model reading skills and share rich vocabulary experiences with students. Teachers aren’t the only ones who can do read-alouds; students can also read aloud. This encourages participation but also increases self-confidence and a love of reading. Students should be encouraged but not forced to read aloud. 

2. Stock your classroom library

There’s nothing better than having easy access to great books. The school library is a perfect resource, but visits to the library are often limited to once a week. You don’t have to invest your own money to get great books. Make a wish list when the Scholastic Book Fair or other book fairs come to campus. Half-Price books will often provide teachers with a box of books, especially first year teachers. Check with your local library for discards. 

3. Independent reading time

Find time every day to carve out some time for students to read self-selected books to read for 15 to 20 minutes. These are “golden minutes” for students who love to read and the perfect time for you to encourage and support reluctant readers. Encourage students to read all types of books, including graphic novels. 

4. Invite authors and guest readers to your classroom or school

Having community members, local athletes, parents, and others read to your students shows students the importance of reading and that “everybody does it.”  If you have the budget or if there are authors in your area, inviting them to share their books and a little about their writing process might just be what the reluctant reader needs to get going or might just spark a fire for a budding author.

5. Host reading events

There are so many fun ways to encourage reading on campus. Host a bedtime story time where families come to school all ready for bed and guest readers, teachers and others read stories around the campus and the night ends with cookies and milk. Sponsor a Read In, students enjoy pizza, snacks and have mystery guest readers share their favorite books. Be creative, there are so many ways to have fun while reading.

There’s more to reading than being able to read proficiently enough to pass a test. It’s important that students are given opportunities to explore and develop a passion for reading. 

Teia Hoover Baker is an educator, published author, and entrepreneur. She is an innovative, devoted educator whose career has been dedicated to coordinating programs that support struggling learners. Her passion is meeting students where they are and guiding them to excel. Her main focus is always what is best for children. Teia holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism and a Master’s of Education. In her spare time, she enjoys being Lovie to her growing grandchildren.

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