Through words and text, students are able to enter whole new worlds. In these worlds, their imaginations can flourish and opportunities abound. When a love of books isn’t present, students don’t realize what they are missing. These four fixes allow teachers to ignite that reading spark and put students on the pathway to a bright future.
- Class Time – To get students to actively participate in independent reading time outside of the classroom, it’s imperative to allow for independent reading time within the classroom. For reluctant and/or struggling readers, having time to read in a classroom setting where encouragement and support are prevalent is a must. It’s important for teachers to make themselves available during this reading time to discuss books with students, share strategies with struggling readers, and model a passion for reading by putting off grading papers or catching up on emails during independent reading time. To show students the value of reading, teachers need to set the example and showcase it as one of their own lifelong priorities. As students gain confidence in their abilities within the classroom, they will be more likely to continue reading outside of the classroom.
- Community Incentive Programs – Sometimes the best way to foster intrinsic motivation is to start by offering some extrinsic motivators. With a little investigating, there are lots of pre-existing reading programs offered by sports teams, restaurants, and other establishments to fill the school year and summer months with a wide variety of prizes and rewards. Whether it’s a book, a pizza, a school visit, or tickets to a game, there’s sure to be a program out there that offers an incentive to get your students motivated to read. This is also a chance to go out into the community and work with local businesses to create programs that reward reading goals.These links showcase just a few:
- Book It! from Pizza Hut
- NHL programs like Book Jackets from the Columbus Blue Jackets
- Minor League Baseball programs like Ozzie’s Reading Club from the Kane County Cougars
- NFL programs like Tackle Reading from the Chicago Bears
- NBA’s Read to Achieve offered by select teams such as the Boston Celtics
- Barnes & Noble’s summer reading program offering free books to readers
- Social Media – Powering up social media can power on the motivation to read. By setting up a social media platform where students can post short book reviews, share favorite titles and authors, and/or chat about books, students begin to see themselves as a vested part of a reading community. With a simple # added to a school, class, district, or grade level moniker, a community of readers is born! #genoareads #smithsreaders #battlecreekbooks #4thgradereads
- Reading Patrol – Tossing the element of surprise into the mix can entice students to read more. An in-building Reading Patrol can be formed to catch students reading. By snapping a picture for a school Caught Reading display and offering a small reward (e.g., pencil, sticker, candy, front of the line pass), students will be encouraged to make reading a priority and find their faces on the wall of readers. One school in South Carolina took this to an even larger scale and created a home-visiting Prize Patrol. While this was a large undertaking, it got families involved and students eagerly anticipating the possibility of becoming the next big winner!
The encouragement of independent reading needs to be a continuous priority. By dedicating time, offering incentives, and building excitement about reading, students will be more inclined to carry a motivation to read outside of the classroom. When a love of reading is established, a student’s opportunities are endless.
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