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August 14, 2017

5 Creative Ways to Engage Readers With Books

By Juan Gonzalez
Grades 3–5

    Hello and welcome to my first blog post on Top Teaching! I'm so excited to share my teaching adventures with you. 

    One of the great things about the teaching profession is the opportunity to guide students through a life of reading. Some students come to my classroom ready to devour books, while others don’t know the greatness that awaits them. The most important goal I have for my learners is to develop and sustain a reading life. In this post, you’ll find five different ideas that have helped me create blossoming reading communities and excitement for books! 

    1. Use Book Talks 

    A Book Talk consists of someone (teacher or student) sharing a book they’ve read with the intention of convincing a potential reader to do the same. This should go beyond saying, “I love this book,” or “This is a must-read." You want to give the readers a small insight on what to expect from the plot, characters, etc. Remember to curate and deliver the Book Talk with passion. I do this by using a voice filled with excitement, holding the book in my hand, and always leaving the listener with a cliffhanger. 

    One vivid memory sticks out when I think about the success of Book Talks in the classroom. Last year, one of my students who loves The Baby-Sitters Club series by Raina Telgemeier found her mother’s old copy of The Baby-Sitters Club: Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls by Ann M. Martin. She brought it into the classroom with excitement and shock. Weeks later, she read the original version by Martin and did a Book Talk for her classmates. You would not believe the frenzy she created! Suddenly, I had students wanting to start the series, and others in search of “classic” books at home.

    Book Talks are powerful. 

     

    2. Make Your Library Feel New With Book Displays

    Creating an inviting classroom library is a great way to keep students in tune with their reading life. Something as simple as displaying new books every few weeks can gain the interest of the readers. If you are new to the profession, remember that building a classroom library takes time. While you grow, use your school or public library to keep your classroom updated with new texts.

    In these photos, you can see how I used seasonal themes to change up the books and décor in my library area. This helps keep the most important part of my classroom feel new and captivating. 

     

    3. Give Books the Superstar Treatment 

    In my opinion, books need to get more red carpet events. I have found that showcasing books in new ways can create wonder! Last year, I started projecting book covers of different titles that were soon to be shared with the class. I would spotlight books in the morning and during independent reading. This instantly transformed the whiteboard into a beautiful billboard, and the readers began seeing books before they were shared. This small change helped build interest and gave the books an extra "wow" factor. 

     

    4. Keep Track of Classroom Read-Alouds

    Prior to creating this board, I always kept a list of books we read as a class on chart paper. Then I was inspired by educators on social media to document our reading using visuals. This board not only looks great, but also makes for an outstanding teaching tool. This display of our shared reading journey led to many conversations about author’s crafts, common themes, and genres that we still needed to explore. The students are always amazed to see the reading that we accomplish and I use their amazement to encourage their own reading.

    2016-2017 Book Board

    The book covers that are hanging on this board were printed from a computer and laminated for future use. 

    2017-2018 Book Board

     

    5. Create Anticipation

    I have always linked the feeling of anticipation to a sense of endless possibilities. Creating this sensation with books is both engaging and pure fun! Sometimes I do this by simply bringing in a shopping bag and announcing, “Y’all, I bought new books!” This always creates a roar of cheers and a hunger to see the new titles.

    You can also draw students in with a Mystery Book Box. This idea is simply a box that is mysteriously filled with read-aloud titles. A book is blindly selected from the box, and then shared with the students. I don’t know what it is about random selection, but the kids go wild for it! The Mystery Box only appears in my classroom a couple of times a year. That's how it keeps its charm. It's also a great activity for the beginning of the school year. 

    How to Use a Mystery Book Box

    • Preselect your read-alouds for the week. They can be books that you want to share simply for the love of reading, or you can be strategic with your selections. 
    • Place the books inside a decorated, mysterious-looking box.
    • Tell the students a fun story about the origins of the box. My story is that an unknown person left the mystery box in my classroom. Every once in a while, new books appear for us to read as a class. The only catch is that, on the days I bring it out, we can only read one book a day from the box. If we try to read more, the box will lock and the books will stop appearing. My students laugh but deep down, I know they appreciate the story telling. 
    • Each day, pull out a random book with excitement (desk drum rolls optional).
    • Share the book with the class! At the end of week, see if the students can find any common themes with the texts you shared or have them explain which story they enjoyed best with their classmates.

    Sharing books with kids is the most important thing we can do as teachers. I hope that you found these ideas useful.  

    If you would like to keep up with my classroom, connect with me on my teacher Instagram, @Teaching3rdwithMrG

    Hello and welcome to my first blog post on Top Teaching! I'm so excited to share my teaching adventures with you. 

    One of the great things about the teaching profession is the opportunity to guide students through a life of reading. Some students come to my classroom ready to devour books, while others don’t know the greatness that awaits them. The most important goal I have for my learners is to develop and sustain a reading life. In this post, you’ll find five different ideas that have helped me create blossoming reading communities and excitement for books! 

    1. Use Book Talks 

    A Book Talk consists of someone (teacher or student) sharing a book they’ve read with the intention of convincing a potential reader to do the same. This should go beyond saying, “I love this book,” or “This is a must-read." You want to give the readers a small insight on what to expect from the plot, characters, etc. Remember to curate and deliver the Book Talk with passion. I do this by using a voice filled with excitement, holding the book in my hand, and always leaving the listener with a cliffhanger. 

    One vivid memory sticks out when I think about the success of Book Talks in the classroom. Last year, one of my students who loves The Baby-Sitters Club series by Raina Telgemeier found her mother’s old copy of The Baby-Sitters Club: Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls by Ann M. Martin. She brought it into the classroom with excitement and shock. Weeks later, she read the original version by Martin and did a Book Talk for her classmates. You would not believe the frenzy she created! Suddenly, I had students wanting to start the series, and others in search of “classic” books at home.

    Book Talks are powerful. 

     

    2. Make Your Library Feel New With Book Displays

    Creating an inviting classroom library is a great way to keep students in tune with their reading life. Something as simple as displaying new books every few weeks can gain the interest of the readers. If you are new to the profession, remember that building a classroom library takes time. While you grow, use your school or public library to keep your classroom updated with new texts.

    In these photos, you can see how I used seasonal themes to change up the books and décor in my library area. This helps keep the most important part of my classroom feel new and captivating. 

     

    3. Give Books the Superstar Treatment 

    In my opinion, books need to get more red carpet events. I have found that showcasing books in new ways can create wonder! Last year, I started projecting book covers of different titles that were soon to be shared with the class. I would spotlight books in the morning and during independent reading. This instantly transformed the whiteboard into a beautiful billboard, and the readers began seeing books before they were shared. This small change helped build interest and gave the books an extra "wow" factor. 

     

    4. Keep Track of Classroom Read-Alouds

    Prior to creating this board, I always kept a list of books we read as a class on chart paper. Then I was inspired by educators on social media to document our reading using visuals. This board not only looks great, but also makes for an outstanding teaching tool. This display of our shared reading journey led to many conversations about author’s crafts, common themes, and genres that we still needed to explore. The students are always amazed to see the reading that we accomplish and I use their amazement to encourage their own reading.

    2016-2017 Book Board

    The book covers that are hanging on this board were printed from a computer and laminated for future use. 

    2017-2018 Book Board

     

    5. Create Anticipation

    I have always linked the feeling of anticipation to a sense of endless possibilities. Creating this sensation with books is both engaging and pure fun! Sometimes I do this by simply bringing in a shopping bag and announcing, “Y’all, I bought new books!” This always creates a roar of cheers and a hunger to see the new titles.

    You can also draw students in with a Mystery Book Box. This idea is simply a box that is mysteriously filled with read-aloud titles. A book is blindly selected from the box, and then shared with the students. I don’t know what it is about random selection, but the kids go wild for it! The Mystery Box only appears in my classroom a couple of times a year. That's how it keeps its charm. It's also a great activity for the beginning of the school year. 

    How to Use a Mystery Book Box

    • Preselect your read-alouds for the week. They can be books that you want to share simply for the love of reading, or you can be strategic with your selections. 
    • Place the books inside a decorated, mysterious-looking box.
    • Tell the students a fun story about the origins of the box. My story is that an unknown person left the mystery box in my classroom. Every once in a while, new books appear for us to read as a class. The only catch is that, on the days I bring it out, we can only read one book a day from the box. If we try to read more, the box will lock and the books will stop appearing. My students laugh but deep down, I know they appreciate the story telling. 
    • Each day, pull out a random book with excitement (desk drum rolls optional).
    • Share the book with the class! At the end of week, see if the students can find any common themes with the texts you shared or have them explain which story they enjoyed best with their classmates.

    Sharing books with kids is the most important thing we can do as teachers. I hope that you found these ideas useful.  

    If you would like to keep up with my classroom, connect with me on my teacher Instagram, @Teaching3rdwithMrG

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