Top 5 Tips on How to Get Reluctant Readers to Read
All teachers have had those students that just don’t seem to like reading. Whether it be not reading at grade level, minimal exposure to books at home, or just a plain fear of reading, these students dread the words, “OK, it’s time for reading.” What can you do to help your reluctant readers overcome this hatred of reading? We hope you can use our top 5 tips that have helped our students love reading.
1. Allow Choice
Students must be allowed to have some time during the week to read what interests them. Whether it be a picture book, a car magazine, or even a comic book, allowing students some choice shows them that reading can be fun and enjoyable. We use The Daily Five in our classroom. Once a week we allow students to bring in the above-mentioned reading materials for one of our rotations. The students look forward to these times to read their “brain-break” books.
We also have our classroom libraries organized into categories to make it easier for students to find books that interest them. Categories such as: natural disasters, sports heroes, and animal stories, are incorporated with the more traditional groups such as: fantasy, realistic fiction, and biography to name a few.
The books are in bins which make them more visible and more accessible to the students. See below for a picture from our classroom and a way to get our book bin labels as well by clicking on the book bin labels example.
2. Reading Contests
To inspire those reluctant readers to read outside of school, we created monthly themed home reading logs. Students are given a reading log at the beginning of each month and set a goal. We usually tell the students that they should average about 20 minutes a night. After they set a goal, they take the log home and keep track of their minutes each night. A parent/guardian then signs the log and it is brought back to school. If the student meets his/her goal we do a fun celebration called Pop a Top.
Each student that reads on average 20 minutes a night, is able to bring in a drink of their choice. We count down 3-2-1 and then open the cans and bottles at the same time to make a cool noise. We have awards made up too that states the person’s name, the month, and the number of minutes read. They like receiving the easy to make awards. Also, sometimes we allow students to bring in comic books, picture books, or other fun books to read for 20 minutes in school on this day.
Many of you may wonder what about those students whose parents do not sign logs? We specifically send books home with those students and tell them to use the honor system with their minutes. Then we meet with them at school, discuss the books they read, and sign off on their logs.
Below are some examples of what the reading log sheet looks like for various months. If you click on the pictures, you can access all of our logs to purchase if you’d like.
3. Fun Reading Strategy Activities
A big part of our reading instruction is teaching the reading strategies to the students. We do have a curriculum in place, but oftentimes the curriculum isn’t exciting or relevant to our students. So as a supplement to what we teach, we often do fun activities as well that still get the students thinking and talking about what they’ve read.
Design a Cover
One activity that is fun is having the students create a name for a band, a play list of three songs, and design a CD cover based on a chapter read in a book. They love to do this, and it is amazing to see their creativity.
Sticky Note Reading
We have also used sticky notes for students to use in their books to mark: words they don’t know, questions that they have, predictions that they make, and other reading strategies. We actually have sticky notes on our class supply list at the beginning of the year for parents. Students love being able to mark up their books without actually writing in them!
Another fun activity is having the students create apps on an iPod word document that we created. Students make the apps based on the book that they read. It is fun to see their creativity come out and their explanation of why they chose the apps that they did.
Connecting with the author and characters is fun through a text messaging activity that we use as well. Students are able to use “text talk” to communicate with cell phones on a word document based on the author and characters in the book.
We also use social networking to have students create a page based on a character in a story that they’ve read. They enjoy the creative part of this project. It is fun to see who they add as friends and the comments that are left on their pages.
You can access these fun activities by clicking on the pictures.
4. Celebrate Books
We love to do read alouds in our classrooms. During these read alouds, we often do fun activities such as: turning off the lights during a part of the story that takes place at night, lighting a candle with the lights off and sitting in a circle, allowing the students to draw and color a picture related to the story, having the students read a page to the class, and using think-pair-share to make predictions, inferences, to summarize, and to do other reading strategies as well.
But probably our favorite activity is doing a 1/2 day or whole day celebration of the book that we read aloud to the class. For example, one of our favorite books to read aloud is Holes by Louis Sachar. We do a Whole Day of Holes and the students love it! Our class becomes Camp Green Lake with water canteens, yellow spotted lizards, and even a treasure hunt to boot. If you click on the below picture, you can find out in more detail what we do on this special day.
We have found that celebrating books that we have read out loud gets reluctant readers excited. It also gets them more apt to try another book by that same author or a similar book from that genre.
5. Hold Special Events
Every day we hold guided reading groups where students are reading a book picked by the teacher. This is important to practice the reading strategies and to help students continue to improve their reading comprehension and fluency.
But we also like to celebrate at least once a month by giving our students a “day off” from guided reading groups. We call this day Daily 5 Choice Day. They now have three choices to pick from. It is amazing how many reluctant readers pick an additional read to self choice! They love having that extra time to read what they want!
Book to Movie
If there is the release of a movie that is based on a book, it is a great time to discuss the book with the class, and encourage students to read the book and compare it to the movie. Students often find that the book is way better than the movie. Great examples are: Bridge to Terabithia, Tuck Everlasting, and The Lightning Thief to name a few.
We hope that the above ideas can help get your reluctant readers more excited about reading! Please share any ideas that you have used in your classrooms too!