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September 2, 2016

Tips to Motivate Readers

By John DePasquale
Grades 3–5, 6–8

    A new school year can be an exciting time for both students and teachers. It is a time full of new beginnings with fresh faces, and when a year’s worth of new learning opportunities is just brimming with electrifying potential. This powerful energy is all the motivation some students need during the first few weeks to dive right in and face the challenges of a new grade head-on. For other students, meanwhile, the same exciting thrill of a new school year wears off completely right around lunchtime on their first day back. It doesn't take long for these students to realize that they are back at school! 

    Sensing the need for an early dose of motivation, I make it a point during the early days of the school year to be on the lookout for students in this latter group. This is especially true as we launch for the first time our independent reading routines. Since independent reading only works when students are motivated to actually read, I start the year considering different ways I can encourage all students to read independently.

    Choice

    Offering my students complete freedom to explore a variety of independent reading choices motivates them to read. It may seem obvious, but I sometimes need to remind myself that my students are more likely to read texts they've chosen and actually want to read. After teaching my students a lesson to review ways to select just-right texts, I provide my students with nearly unlimited leeway at the beginning of the school year to select the texts they are both interested in reading and are able to read independently. I may eventually guide some students towards particular text genres or topics in the coming weeks once I start to confer with them about their reading, but to start the year my students have free range over their text selections.

    As a result of this free range, I’ve learned over the years that graphic novels, realistic fiction, and science fiction are my students’ perennial favorites. However, I also like to offer a few out-of-the-box options like cookbooks or travel guides to foreign countries. These unexpected choices hardly ever sit idly on the bookshelf. Since I’m also getting to know my new students for the first time at this point in the school year, I think it’s positively fascinating to observe the different types of texts particular students gravitate towards. This is an added bonus of motivating students to read through choice.

    I also try to take into consideration the interests and needs of my most reluctant readers when I’m gathering the different texts options for them. Magazines are a great text choice for students who are reluctant to commit to reading a longer book. Students are welcome to browse racks of magazines to find an article that piques their interest. To build a collection of magazines for your classroom, I would recommend the classroom magazines from Scholastic and the various magazines for young people published by Cricket Media.   

    Audio books are also an excellent option to motivate otherwise reluctant readers. Audio books provide students with the opportunity to listen to trained professional actors model fluent reading. This makes some texts more accessible to students who struggle to read for a variety of reasons. Also, observing students who select this audio book option is an early clue that helps me identify those who might benefit from additional reading support. 

    If you’re looking for great choice for students, the audio book for Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan is my new favorite this year. This amazingly compelling story is brought to life in an audio book format that hooks readers through the voices of four different narrators.

    Recommend Great Books

    Recommending good books to students is a powerful way to motivate reading. I sometimes feel like a matchmaker as I try to find the right book for the right student. This takes a little bit longer at the beginning of the year as I get to know my new students, but it’s definitely time well spent. From reading interest inventories to video confessionals, Alycia Zimmerman shares a number of ideas she uses to learn more about her students in "Getting to Know My Students as Readers." Here’s an additional reading survey you can use to learn about your students as readers. 

    Booktalks are an effective way to whet your students’ appetite for books by creating excitement and buzz around a few must-read titles. I think of booktalks as movie trailers for books because I use them to persuade, and essentially woo, students to particular books. Booktalks are short two-minute teasers that usually introduce students to the main characters, context, and major conflict of a story. I carve out time in the classroom to share at least two booktalks a week. With some practice and a little flair for the dramatics, you’re sure to have students on the edge of their seats during booktalks. 

    Here’s a collection of booktalks and videos you can share with your students. 

    I recently showed this video booktalk for Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson to my students and it truly had them rolling with excitement for the book. A word of warning, however, about booktalks, it’s best to have multiple copies of the books you use for booktalks because demand for these books will be high!

    I absolutely love giving booktalks, but my ultimate goal in modeling them is to turn the reins over to my students and to make them the book recommenders for one another. 

    For even more ways to use book recommendations to motivate students to read check out Rhonda Stewart’s post "Twitter Book Recommendation Wall" and Beth Newingham’s "Advertising a Great Book."


    At its essence, motivating readers is about getting the right book into the hands of the right student at the right time. I hope to achieve this by promoting student choice and structuring book recommendations to inform those choices. These ideas are beneficial as we begin to build a culture of reading in our classroom, and develop throughout the school year to inspire a year full of reading engagement, focus, and stamina.

    Check out the Kid & Family Reading Report to find out more ways to motivate kids to read.

    How do you motivate your students and build a culture of reading in your classroom? Share your ideas in the comments.

     

     

    You can follow me on Twitter @johndepasquale_.

    A new school year can be an exciting time for both students and teachers. It is a time full of new beginnings with fresh faces, and when a year’s worth of new learning opportunities is just brimming with electrifying potential. This powerful energy is all the motivation some students need during the first few weeks to dive right in and face the challenges of a new grade head-on. For other students, meanwhile, the same exciting thrill of a new school year wears off completely right around lunchtime on their first day back. It doesn't take long for these students to realize that they are back at school! 

    Sensing the need for an early dose of motivation, I make it a point during the early days of the school year to be on the lookout for students in this latter group. This is especially true as we launch for the first time our independent reading routines. Since independent reading only works when students are motivated to actually read, I start the year considering different ways I can encourage all students to read independently.

    Choice

    Offering my students complete freedom to explore a variety of independent reading choices motivates them to read. It may seem obvious, but I sometimes need to remind myself that my students are more likely to read texts they've chosen and actually want to read. After teaching my students a lesson to review ways to select just-right texts, I provide my students with nearly unlimited leeway at the beginning of the school year to select the texts they are both interested in reading and are able to read independently. I may eventually guide some students towards particular text genres or topics in the coming weeks once I start to confer with them about their reading, but to start the year my students have free range over their text selections.

    As a result of this free range, I’ve learned over the years that graphic novels, realistic fiction, and science fiction are my students’ perennial favorites. However, I also like to offer a few out-of-the-box options like cookbooks or travel guides to foreign countries. These unexpected choices hardly ever sit idly on the bookshelf. Since I’m also getting to know my new students for the first time at this point in the school year, I think it’s positively fascinating to observe the different types of texts particular students gravitate towards. This is an added bonus of motivating students to read through choice.

    I also try to take into consideration the interests and needs of my most reluctant readers when I’m gathering the different texts options for them. Magazines are a great text choice for students who are reluctant to commit to reading a longer book. Students are welcome to browse racks of magazines to find an article that piques their interest. To build a collection of magazines for your classroom, I would recommend the classroom magazines from Scholastic and the various magazines for young people published by Cricket Media.   

    Audio books are also an excellent option to motivate otherwise reluctant readers. Audio books provide students with the opportunity to listen to trained professional actors model fluent reading. This makes some texts more accessible to students who struggle to read for a variety of reasons. Also, observing students who select this audio book option is an early clue that helps me identify those who might benefit from additional reading support. 

    If you’re looking for great choice for students, the audio book for Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan is my new favorite this year. This amazingly compelling story is brought to life in an audio book format that hooks readers through the voices of four different narrators.

    Recommend Great Books

    Recommending good books to students is a powerful way to motivate reading. I sometimes feel like a matchmaker as I try to find the right book for the right student. This takes a little bit longer at the beginning of the year as I get to know my new students, but it’s definitely time well spent. From reading interest inventories to video confessionals, Alycia Zimmerman shares a number of ideas she uses to learn more about her students in "Getting to Know My Students as Readers." Here’s an additional reading survey you can use to learn about your students as readers. 

    Booktalks are an effective way to whet your students’ appetite for books by creating excitement and buzz around a few must-read titles. I think of booktalks as movie trailers for books because I use them to persuade, and essentially woo, students to particular books. Booktalks are short two-minute teasers that usually introduce students to the main characters, context, and major conflict of a story. I carve out time in the classroom to share at least two booktalks a week. With some practice and a little flair for the dramatics, you’re sure to have students on the edge of their seats during booktalks. 

    Here’s a collection of booktalks and videos you can share with your students. 

    I recently showed this video booktalk for Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson to my students and it truly had them rolling with excitement for the book. A word of warning, however, about booktalks, it’s best to have multiple copies of the books you use for booktalks because demand for these books will be high!

    I absolutely love giving booktalks, but my ultimate goal in modeling them is to turn the reins over to my students and to make them the book recommenders for one another. 

    For even more ways to use book recommendations to motivate students to read check out Rhonda Stewart’s post "Twitter Book Recommendation Wall" and Beth Newingham’s "Advertising a Great Book."


    At its essence, motivating readers is about getting the right book into the hands of the right student at the right time. I hope to achieve this by promoting student choice and structuring book recommendations to inform those choices. These ideas are beneficial as we begin to build a culture of reading in our classroom, and develop throughout the school year to inspire a year full of reading engagement, focus, and stamina.

    Check out the Kid & Family Reading Report to find out more ways to motivate kids to read.

    How do you motivate your students and build a culture of reading in your classroom? Share your ideas in the comments.

     

     

    You can follow me on Twitter @johndepasquale_.

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