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August 25, 2017

Make Reading a Priority for Your Students in 5 Easy Steps

By Brian Smith
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    I have read so many great books this summer, including Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder and Solo by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess (just to name a couple!), and I’ve enjoyed every one of them. During the summer, reading for pleasure really becomes a priority for me.

    As I started thinking about this new school year, I decided that one of my main objectives is to make reading a priority for my class. So, here are five fun and easy-peasy ways to make sure that your students — and their parents — know that reading is a priority in your classroom. If you have other ways that you make sure your students know the importance of reading right off the bat, please share them in the comments below.

    As part of my summer PD, I attended the Scholastic Book Fairs Reading Summits. I had the unbelievable opportunity to hear Dr. Ernest Morrell (one half of the writing team of the book Every Child a Super Reader). When he said, “It’s not just the books. It’s the culture that surrounds the books,” it really spoke to me. He was speaking about the culture of a school but I want to apply that idea to the culture of the classroom. Here are five of the ways that I create a culture of books in my classroom:

    5 Easy Strategies

    1. Display Books Everywhere
    2. 30-Second Book Talks
    3. First Days Filled With Read-Alouds
    4. Bulletin Boards
    5. A Classroom Book Club

    1. Display Books Everywhere

    Sounds easy enough, right? But in classrooms around the country, books are missing when the kids walk in the first day. I display books on my whiteboard marker tray, on tops of shelves, on top of cubbies, on bookshelves, and in my housekeeping center. You name it and I try to put a book there.

     

    One of my favorite ways to display books is by purchasing plush versions of my favorite characters and placing them on top of my cubbies. Then each set of cubbies becomes known by that character. When I call students to get their snack, I call "Penguin Cubbies” from the wonderful Salina Yoon's Penguin series, or “Clifford Cubbies.” This year I’m so excited to have a set of Clark the Shark Cubbies, Louise Cubbies, Rocket Cubbies, and Otis Cubbies. I purchased a Rocket plush from Scholastic’s Book Clubs last year and I’ve been anxiously waiting for the start of the school year to break him out! On the top of each set of cubbies, I put a book or two from the characters’ series beside the plush. The kids love it.

    2. 30-Second Book Talks

    Even as young as kindergarten, my kids are exposed to and then given the opportunity present their own book talk. Of course, I give them LOTS of examples by book talking all the books that I read through the day in the morning. This helps them hear what a book talk includes, but also gets them excited to hear the books that are listed in my lesson plans. This also helps me figure out what books they really want to hear because most of the time I over plan for the day and have to trim a book or two!  

    On Fridays, my class rotates through Fun Friday stations. One of the stations is pairing up with a partner and, using an iPad, recording their book talk for the week. For non-readers it can be a book that I read or even the book that they listened to in my listening center.

    This year, I will be tweeting out some of their book talks every Friday using the hashtag #BooksWeLove. My twitter handle is @dad2ella and following me will make it easier to follow along. I hope that you will join us and post some of your students' book talks using the #BooksWeLove hashtag. Special thanks to Dr. Brad Gustafson and Jennifer LaGarde for all of their work with book talks. Sometimes inspiration comes out of the clear blue and other times inspiration is exactly where you think it should be. These two are always inspiring.

    3. Fill the First Days With Lots of Read-Alouds

    For your students and parents to believe in the culture of your classroom, you must practice what you preach. This means that I am constantly pulling books from all around the room to read! How do I start each day? With a read-aloud! How do I bring the class back together after practicing all of our first day routines and procedures? With a read-aloud! How do I fill those last few minutes before lunch? With a read-aloud! How do I fill the time when we come in from recess a few minutes early because it’s SO hot outside? With a read-aloud! Basically, the easiest way to show your students that reading is a priority in your classroom? With a read-aloud!

    4. Bulletin Boards

    A bulletin board titled What I’m Reading Now is a great way to keep students excited about books. We all ask our friends to recommend books. This bulletin boards let your students share what they are reading with the rest of the class. I started out by using Velcro, but as I printed off more and more book covers, I decided that tape would be a lot cheaper and actually easier for all involved.

    5. A Classroom Book Club

    If you have used Scholastic Reading Clubs then you may already know that they have changed the name to Scholastic Book Clubs. The other big change this year is that you won’t be receiving grade level specific catalogs. Instead they have gone back to the classic catalogs.

    I use the Scholastic Book Clubs to start my own class book club. As you may know, every month’s catalog has a $1 book choice. At my school’s Open House, I have a sheet of paper on top of all the required school paperwork that describes my book club. Basically, if a parent gives me $10 at the beginning of the year, I guarantee them that their child will receive one book a month from September through June.

    My book club serves two purposes: It’s a quick and easy way for parents to ensure that they are building their child’s library each month without any extra work on their end.The students get used to getting a book when that wonderful Scholastic Book Box arrives each month and the excitement that builds about what book they are getting is contagious. Make sure that in the note you send home each month with your flyers, you include which book your book club members are automatically going to receive so that the parents of those families know not to reorder it.

    Pro Tip: Mentioning the dollar book in this manner is also is a great way to point out the dollar book to all the families in your class who didn’t join your book club.

     

    Connect with me, dad2ella, on Twitter!

    I can’t wait to see you next time.

    I have read so many great books this summer, including Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder and Solo by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess (just to name a couple!), and I’ve enjoyed every one of them. During the summer, reading for pleasure really becomes a priority for me.

    As I started thinking about this new school year, I decided that one of my main objectives is to make reading a priority for my class. So, here are five fun and easy-peasy ways to make sure that your students — and their parents — know that reading is a priority in your classroom. If you have other ways that you make sure your students know the importance of reading right off the bat, please share them in the comments below.

    As part of my summer PD, I attended the Scholastic Book Fairs Reading Summits. I had the unbelievable opportunity to hear Dr. Ernest Morrell (one half of the writing team of the book Every Child a Super Reader). When he said, “It’s not just the books. It’s the culture that surrounds the books,” it really spoke to me. He was speaking about the culture of a school but I want to apply that idea to the culture of the classroom. Here are five of the ways that I create a culture of books in my classroom:

    5 Easy Strategies

    1. Display Books Everywhere
    2. 30-Second Book Talks
    3. First Days Filled With Read-Alouds
    4. Bulletin Boards
    5. A Classroom Book Club

    1. Display Books Everywhere

    Sounds easy enough, right? But in classrooms around the country, books are missing when the kids walk in the first day. I display books on my whiteboard marker tray, on tops of shelves, on top of cubbies, on bookshelves, and in my housekeeping center. You name it and I try to put a book there.

     

    One of my favorite ways to display books is by purchasing plush versions of my favorite characters and placing them on top of my cubbies. Then each set of cubbies becomes known by that character. When I call students to get their snack, I call "Penguin Cubbies” from the wonderful Salina Yoon's Penguin series, or “Clifford Cubbies.” This year I’m so excited to have a set of Clark the Shark Cubbies, Louise Cubbies, Rocket Cubbies, and Otis Cubbies. I purchased a Rocket plush from Scholastic’s Book Clubs last year and I’ve been anxiously waiting for the start of the school year to break him out! On the top of each set of cubbies, I put a book or two from the characters’ series beside the plush. The kids love it.

    2. 30-Second Book Talks

    Even as young as kindergarten, my kids are exposed to and then given the opportunity present their own book talk. Of course, I give them LOTS of examples by book talking all the books that I read through the day in the morning. This helps them hear what a book talk includes, but also gets them excited to hear the books that are listed in my lesson plans. This also helps me figure out what books they really want to hear because most of the time I over plan for the day and have to trim a book or two!  

    On Fridays, my class rotates through Fun Friday stations. One of the stations is pairing up with a partner and, using an iPad, recording their book talk for the week. For non-readers it can be a book that I read or even the book that they listened to in my listening center.

    This year, I will be tweeting out some of their book talks every Friday using the hashtag #BooksWeLove. My twitter handle is @dad2ella and following me will make it easier to follow along. I hope that you will join us and post some of your students' book talks using the #BooksWeLove hashtag. Special thanks to Dr. Brad Gustafson and Jennifer LaGarde for all of their work with book talks. Sometimes inspiration comes out of the clear blue and other times inspiration is exactly where you think it should be. These two are always inspiring.

    3. Fill the First Days With Lots of Read-Alouds

    For your students and parents to believe in the culture of your classroom, you must practice what you preach. This means that I am constantly pulling books from all around the room to read! How do I start each day? With a read-aloud! How do I bring the class back together after practicing all of our first day routines and procedures? With a read-aloud! How do I fill those last few minutes before lunch? With a read-aloud! How do I fill the time when we come in from recess a few minutes early because it’s SO hot outside? With a read-aloud! Basically, the easiest way to show your students that reading is a priority in your classroom? With a read-aloud!

    4. Bulletin Boards

    A bulletin board titled What I’m Reading Now is a great way to keep students excited about books. We all ask our friends to recommend books. This bulletin boards let your students share what they are reading with the rest of the class. I started out by using Velcro, but as I printed off more and more book covers, I decided that tape would be a lot cheaper and actually easier for all involved.

    5. A Classroom Book Club

    If you have used Scholastic Reading Clubs then you may already know that they have changed the name to Scholastic Book Clubs. The other big change this year is that you won’t be receiving grade level specific catalogs. Instead they have gone back to the classic catalogs.

    I use the Scholastic Book Clubs to start my own class book club. As you may know, every month’s catalog has a $1 book choice. At my school’s Open House, I have a sheet of paper on top of all the required school paperwork that describes my book club. Basically, if a parent gives me $10 at the beginning of the year, I guarantee them that their child will receive one book a month from September through June.

    My book club serves two purposes: It’s a quick and easy way for parents to ensure that they are building their child’s library each month without any extra work on their end.The students get used to getting a book when that wonderful Scholastic Book Box arrives each month and the excitement that builds about what book they are getting is contagious. Make sure that in the note you send home each month with your flyers, you include which book your book club members are automatically going to receive so that the parents of those families know not to reorder it.

    Pro Tip: Mentioning the dollar book in this manner is also is a great way to point out the dollar book to all the families in your class who didn’t join your book club.

     

    Connect with me, dad2ella, on Twitter!

    I can’t wait to see you next time.

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