Helping Students Develop a Lifelong Love of Reading
- Grades: PreK–K
We all know that reading is one of the most important skills you can teach a child. It lays the foundation for a child’s success in school and in everyday life. For this reason, one of the most precious gifts we can give our students is a book. Books stir the senses, inspire imagination, and spark a love of reading that will last a lifetime. But how can a book compete in this new age of instant entertainment — with such things as television and video games? Read on as I share ideas to help your students develop a lifelong love of reading despite these distractions.
Make your classroom library a warm and inviting place for your students. For instance, I added a few personal touches such as plants, rugs, curtains, and a bench to my library. When you create a welcoming environment, students are more likely to want to spend time there.
Empower your students by giving them the choice of their own reading material. There are so many books on so many topics, with varying characters, set in different places. Your classroom library needs to be stocked with a wide selection of books in order to keep your students' interest at a high level. For more tips on organizing your classroom library, read my classroom organization post on Scholastic. If you need help finding and leveling books for your students, try the Scholastic Book Wizard.
Read to Your Students
The best way to get your students to love books is to read to them. Kids of all ages enjoy being read to. Make the story fun by using different voices as your read. You can even dress up in character to make the story really come alive. I also invite parents to come in and read to the students.
Book reports are a great way for students to develop and practice their reading, writing, and critical thinking skills. It also helps them explore new genres, share books with other people, and become passionate about reading. After my students visit the classroom library, they complete a short book report about their book and later share it with the class. They include the title of the book and drawings to illustrate characters, setting, and more. For enrichment you could also have students create a poster or a display for their chosen book. Then one afternoon organize a book fair where students can share their presentations. You may want to invite other classes or open the event to family and friends.
Students in my class love using whisper phones during silent reading time. Before using them I found that many students had difficulty reading silently. The whisper phones allowed them to whisper into their phones while reading without disturbing those around them. They provided an incentive for my reluctant readers. The whisper phones also helped to improve their reading rate and fluency.
Turn Reading Into a Game!
Here are two of my favorite games to play with books:
Name That Book
Play this game to revisit some of your class’s favorite books.
- On index cards, record characters, favorite lines, or other important information from the books.
- Divide your class into teams.
- Read the information you recorded and let teams of students take turns naming the corresponding book.
- Award one point for every correct title.
My Favorite Book Game
I use the My Favorite Book game to encourage students to think and read. For this game, I select one child to choose his or her favorite book from the class library. I allow the student to sit in our author’s chair and continue by asking him why this book was his favorite, what his favorite part of the story was, and any other questions I can think of. Then, I read the book to the class, making sure to explain that the book is special because it is “____’s favorite.” This game helps students understand that books are special and should be treated with love and respect.
One of the best ways to get your students to develop a love of reading and of books is to set aside a portion of your day for D.E.A.R (Drop Everything And Read). During this time, everyone, including the teacher, reads. D.E.A.R will encourage your students to read today, tomorrow, and every day. Visit the D.E.A.R. site for more information on how you can start this program in your classroom.
Reading books about books will help get your students motivated and ready to read, too. Take a look at some of my favorite books about books:
I hope these strategies will help motivate your students. Remember to have fun with your kids and read, read, read!!!!!