I Love to Read! Surefire Ways to Create Lifelong Book Lovers
- Grades: PreK–K
February is “I Love to Read Month,” the perfect time to assess if your students do, in fact, love to read. Are they captivated by good stories? Does reading fill them with excitement and enthusiasm? Do they play with the sounds of language in a literature-rich environment that promotes active learning through highly engaging activities? If the answer to any of these questions is no (and even if it’s yes!), it may be time to arm yourself with a repertoire of techniques guaranteed to get every child in your class saying “I love to read!”
Do an Illustrator Study
Small children are attracted to books by their pictures, not by their words. Picture books are the first step into literacy. Even reluctant readers will pick up a book if there is something good to look at in it. Illustrations bring stories to life, and a well-illustrated book will be looked at over and over again.
To stimulate your students' interest in books, do an illustrator study. We did a comparison study of three artists with very different styles and techniques: Eric Carle, who makes painted tissue paper collages; Crockett Johnson, the author and illustrator of Harold and the Purple Crayon; and David Wisniewski, whose layered cut paper makes his three-dimensional illustrations pop off the page.
Capitalize on Student Interests
One of the best ways to get kids reading is to surround them with books on subjects about which they're passionate. Find out what your students, as individuals, like and try to get books that cover as many of these things as possible. The public library is always a good resource.
We got a head start on celebrating Dr. Seuss's birthday, which is on March 2nd. We love Dr. Seuss for so many reasons: the way he plays with words, his cliffhangers on every right-hand page, his knowledge of what is funny to a child, and of course his illustrations. We did some Cat in the Hat tricks, played Pin the Eggs on the Plate, made our own Dr. Seuss books, filled out Dr. Seuss reading passports, and decorated our door.
Make Reading Fun
Following are ten ideas for reading centers that are sure to engage your students:
1. Reading Center -- Library
- Being a librarian: shelving books; helping patrons find books; reading or telling a story for Story Time
- Being a patron: looking for books; reading; listening at Story Time
2. Reading Center -- Newsroom
- Reading articles (from Highlights or Scholastic News)
- Reading advertisements (recognizable labels and logos)
- Putting cut panels of comic strips in sequential order
- Sorting different fonts by letter
- Searching for and highlighting words in newspapers
Download your own set of environmental print cards at Hubbard's Cupboard.
3. Reading Center -- Office
- Being a boss: reading notes to secretaries for dictation; typing printed memos and emails on the computer; using voice recognition software
- Being a secretary: taking dictation; typing printed notes on the computer; reading memos and emails; using voice recognition software
4. Reading Center -- Recording Studio
- Recording made-up stories for wordless picture books
- Recording book reviews
- Recording songs (quietly) by singing along to printed lyrics
To learn how to do sound effects, visit Tony Palermo’s Sound Effects Closet.
5. Reading Center -- Radio Station
- Being a DJ: finding and playing songs and stories on the "radio"
- Being a listener: requesting songs or stories from a printed list; listening to songs, radio shows, and books on tape
Order a Read-Along Radio Drama Kit, or listen to episodes of Old-Time Radio Shows such as the Let’s Pretend shows, Cinnamon Bear, Story Lady, and Mickey Mouse Theater. Random House has a special Listening Library just for young listeners.
6. Reading Center -- Theater
- Reading scripts or acting out parts from books
- Putting on shows with hand puppets, shadow puppets, and hand shadow puppets
- Telling stories with props
- Retelling flannel board stories
7. Reading Center -- Top Secret Headquarters (Spy)
- Reading mystery books
- Looking for words with binoculars, toy cameras, and magnifying glasses
- Picking slips of paper with sentences and trying to find the books that contain them
- Reading stories that contain words written in invisible ink
8. Reading Center -- Treasure Island
- Reading maps or clues that lead to buried treasures
9. Reading Center -- Telephone Booth
- Reading phone books (White Pages, Yellow Pages, and class directory)
- Reading text messages on a cell phone
10. Reading Center -- Drive-In Movie Theater
- Watching movies with good stories
- Watching movies based on books, or that narrate a book
- Watching videos of author read-alouds
- Reading text, closed captions, or subtitles
- Watching movies through View-Masters
I got the idea for these cars from Kiboomu, and made them with the generous help of my parent volunteer. I made the license plates with the Nevada DMV Personalized License Plate Availability Search.
Use the School-Home Connection
Encourage parents to support the development of their child’s reading skills. Download this excellent School-Home Connection Reading Kit from the Department of Education, which has 100 letters to parents, each with a short activity about a reading skill you’re teaching at school. Parents might also be interested in the National Center for Family Literacy, Wonderopolis, and the Center for the Book's Curious George Campaign. A good book to recommend for parents to read with their children is You Read to Me, I'll Read to You.
Join the Global Literacy Call to Action
Scholastic's global literacy campaign is "Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life." It asks that everyone join together to support their children's right to read in order to live a better life. Its Reading Bill of Rights includes the belief that "You Are What You Read."
What do you do to get your students to love reading?
Have a literary weekend!