Making reading engaging for students does not have to be difficult. There are many fun ideas and activities that you can implement in your classroom starting tomorrow. We have provided you below with 10 ideas that you could start using tomorrow to get students motivated to read.
There is a lot to be said for how the level of engagement directly correlates to the level of enthusiasm of the teacher. If you are excited about reading, your students will be too. This not only means doing read alouds with passion, but truly showing students how wonderful reading is. When you are excited about the books your students are reading, they will be too. Take some time each week to find out what your students are reading, and show them that you care. It will make a big difference!
Stock Your Classroom Library
There is no better way than to heighten students’ levels of excitement than to have a classroom library that rocks. Our libraries have all types of genres from nonfiction biographies to graphic novels. We try to have a wide variety of books available for students to check out, even if that means having Captain Underpants on our shelves. If it results in students reading, then we are happy.
Use Scholastic Book Clubs
Probably the greatest thing ever invented for reading teachers is Scholastic Book Clubs. We like getting the fliers in our school mailboxes every month. But we simply love the looks on our students’ faces when we pass them out and watch their expressions as they see books that they can’t wait to get. Every since Scholastic started doing online orders, it has taken a lot of work out of the teachers’ hands which is so nice. We love Scholastic too because we can earn bonus points on student book purchases. Those points then can be used to get books for free for the classroom. We have also used our bonus points to get books as presents for students. If you haven’t used Scholastic Book Clubs, you should!
Connect to Your Students’ Lives
If there is a way to connect literature to your students’ lives, do it! If students have special interests, there are bound to be books about those topics. If students are going through a difficult time with a friend, or have lost a loved one, there are books on that subject as well. If something has happened in the local community that everyone is talking about, there is probably a book that covers this topic too. If you can make those connections with your students, reading becomes all the more powerful.
Share Books and Authors
We love to talk about our favorite books and authors with our students. It is fun to share with them why we love certain ones. Many authors have their own websites, and most authors can be found discussing their books on youtube as well. This is a great way for the students to see and hear from the authors directly. Sometimes we will make a “Top 10” list of books by genre too so students can use it as a reference list.
Pick Reading Buddies
Another way to share the love of reading is to partner up with another classroom in your school. Our fifth grade class pairs up with a second grade classroom. Then, twice a month, for a half an hour, we get together and read. Oftentimes it is the 5th grade buddy reading, but as the second graders gain more confidence, they start reading to their fifth grade buddies. All students love this time and can’t wait for it to come. It really fosters a love for reading by having reading buddies.
Do Reading Contests
One thing that students keep coming back and talking to us even after they have moved on to another grade level is if we still do Pop a Top. About 15 years ago we were noticing kids not reading that much outside of school. So we created a fun reading program for students. Every month, students are given a reading log where they record mintues read at home. Each month has a goal of 600 minutes (about 20 minutes per night). If the students reach the goal, they are allowed to bring in a soda (or other beverage such as juice, flavored water, etc…). We celebrate by giving each student a certificate and then we all open our drinks at once which makes a cool noise. We even let two readers sit in our chairs for the day! You can find our reading logs by clicking here or on the image below.
Hold Special Events
Reading should be fun and why not have special reading events during the year. One of our class’ favorites is flashlight reading. Students can use a flashlight to read during reading class! Another favorite is campfire reading. We find a campfire video on youtube and have it on our screen while children read with the lights off. It is very relaxing. Another fun day is when we allow students to bring in comic books, newspapers, graphic novels, or any other books that they normally can’t read. This is a day where we read Sports Illustrated while the students read.
Find Novels of High Interest
No one hates to be forced to read a book that doesn’t provide engagement. When we make our guided reading groups while studying fiction, we provide a list of potential novels for students to read in groups. We then have the students check off books they have read, and then put a “star” by ones that they may like to read. We then select the books that students want to read. This gives them a say in the book that they will be reading and practicing reading strategies with for the next week or two.
Subscribe to a Classroom Magazine
Nonfiction is always hard to teach. But Scholastic News and Time For Kids has made reading informational text not only engaging but exciting as well. The articles are of high interest to the students and the readability level is not too high. Scholastic News also has an app that your students can get for free. This app holds a digital archive of past issues which makes reading at home possible too!
Reading should be fun and engaging. If you can make that happen, you are sure to see test scores soar!