Do you want to help build your young readers' endurance and enthusiasm for reading?
Do you want your students to read for their own authentic and self-selected purposes?
Do you want your young readers to choose to read on their own?
Check out these twelve ways to help build your young readers' reading lives and develop their endurance and enthusiasm for reading.
Know Your Readers
Get to know your readers. Talk to them about what they read. Talk them about their hobbies and interests. Talk to them about what they do when they are not in school. Utilize a reading interest survey. Have students explore their own reading lives.
Establish a Reading Life
Take time to share your reading life. Provide time for students to establish and share their own reading lives with the class. Students need to dig into the kinds of readers they are and the readers they want to become. They need to go public with what kinds of books they read and what interests they have.
Curate a Classroom Library
Choose books for the classroom library that you know students are looking for. Make sure that you have relevant selections that will meet the purposes for the readers in your room right now. Set the library up to be accessible for all students. Make sure there are labels and students know the system for choosing books from the classroom library. Let your students keep the library organized during the year.
Make Reading a Daily Habit
Just what it says. Carve out time every day for students to read their self-selected texts. Engage students in conversations about the books they are reading.
Make Book Talk a Daily Habit
Carve out time each day to talk about the books the students are reading. Conduct teacher conferences to discuss books students are reading. Have partners get together to share what they are reading with each other.
Personal Reading Invitations
If you find a book that you know a student would love. Drop it in their book basket or on their desk with a little note about how you knew this book would be perfect for the student.
Hold Book Talks
Provide time to share new books and books about high interest topics with your students. Give book talks. Let students share books they’ve read and would like to recommend. You could hold a book tasting.
Share Your Joy of Books Daily
Make read aloud a daily part of your literacy instruction. ALL teachers can do this—Literacy, Science, Math, Social Studies! Enthusiasm is contagious. When you share your joy of books through your read alouds, students are exposed to that enthusiasm.
Lose the Level Labels
With so many programs and assessment tools that attach labels to readers, it’s hard to avoid attaching a label to a child. The reading level of a child is information for the teacher to make instructional decisions that will meet the child where he or she is. Children should not be limited to reading books only labeled at their “reading level”. Readers are unique and multifaceted. Children should not be told they can’t read a book because it isn’t their level. We all have different background knowledge and interests. When we choose a book that is high interest to us and we have lots of background knowledge on the subject, it doesn’t matter if the book is “on our level”. We are going to stretch ourselves as readers and make it happen.
Lose the Rewards and Junk
Read for joy, not junk! Don’t get caught up in the reading for gimmicks stuff. When we place significance on the rewards and junk for reading, we send our students the message that reading is not for the individual but for the tangible rewards. When the rewards go away, so does the “motivation”. Check out one of my new favorite books, No More Reading for Junk by Barbara A. Marinak and Linda B. Gambrall.
Lose the Reading Worksheets
Enough said! Children need to read for authentic purposes to practice the strategies needed to become a proficient reader. Worksheets are not authentic reading! When was the last time you were asked 10 multiple choice questions after reading the latest novel from your favorite author? When was the last time you got excited about reading a copied passage and were ready to discuss it with other readers? Just food for thought…
Lose the Reading Log Humiliation
How about creating a personal visual bookshelf instead? When students are required to log their reading every day and turn it in for a grade, reading becomes a chore and not a joy. Reading records have their place. However, punishing a child because they did not write down what they read will have a negative effect. AND…having parents sign the home reading log has to go! Why punish a child because their parent did not sign the form. We can’t control what happens at their home, so let’s not punish them for it. An alternative could be keeping a visual personal bookshelf as part of the reading life section of the reader's notebook. Be creative and think outside the box.