Just imagine being the teacher who finally breaks the code and unlocks a student’s desire to read! Here are some tips for flipping the script from “do I have to read this” to “I can’t wait to finish this book.”
1. Let students decide what to read
There are plenty of things that students have to read, so give them the opportunity to select books that interest them. You can absolutely showcase some books that are popular from a variety of genres, and there’s nothing wrong with a list of great books as suggested reading, but let the students pick the books that pique their curiosity.
2. Welcome opinions
Encourage students to express their true feelings about a story. Sometimes we judge a book by its cover, and once we begin reading it, we realize that it’s just not what we thought. It’s okay to stop reading and choose something else. If they finish the book, and don’t want to give it a good review, that’s okay. This helps them become more savvy readers and it might open up a good class dialogue between students who read the same book and had a different view.
Let them know it’s okay to express their true opinion of the book, even if they didn’t like it. Encourage them to go beyond the basic “I didn’t like it” to provide reasons.
3. Be the example
YOU are the best ambassador for reading there is! Let your students see you reading, or share with them something about a book you’re reading outside class. It’s a little easier to share the joy of reading with students in primary and elementary school because there are lots of opportunities to read aloud and talk about books. But this is still possible at higher grade levels too. Select a good series and read out loud, share reading with students who want to read aloud too. Ask the librarian to help you select something that will hook your students.
4. Showcase student selections
Have students share titles of books they’ve read and you can showcase a review from them on the board or just create a “What We’re Reading” list for students to add book titles to.
5. Invite a local author to class
Inviting a local author to visit class is a perfect way to encourage students to read. The class could read the author’s latest book and can discuss it with them. Have the author share where their ideas for books come from and offer some tips and tricks for writing. Let students ask questions. As an extension activity, students could write stories of their own. Who knows, you just might be inspiring the next Roald Dahl or J.K. Rowling.
6. Incorporate technology
Students are very tech-savvy, and there’s nothing wrong with incorporating reading apps into a well-rounded reading program. One way to do this is through the use of audiobooks. Audiobooks paired with physical books can be the perfect combination to draw in a reluctant, struggling reader.
Oftentimes, students don’t really “hate to read,” it’s just hard for them. Audiobooks provide a bridge by which struggling readers can hear fluent readers and get a feel for what that sounds like. The heavy lifting of encoding and decoding is removed so that students can connect with the content and use critical thinking skills, and make connections to things they already know.
I hope you are able to use some of these tips to engage and inspire the students in your classroom to become lifelong readers.
As we round out our celebration of National Reading Month, we’re excited to share that our reading partner MindPlay recently acquired LightSail Library. LightSail gives classrooms access to thousands of e-books and articles written across a variety of topics and genres at a wide range of Lexile measures for K-12 students. Reach out to one of our team members to learn more information.
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.