My classroom is designed for reading. As mentioned in my previous post, Setting Up the Middle School Classroom Library, I treasure a classroom environment that is conducive to digging into a book. I am very deliberate about selecting reading materials for our classroom library as well as the book bins for each of our reading units. We are currently reading nonfiction. Creating the book bins was not easy, but it was done with thought and care.
We all have different types of readers in our classroom. They range from the enthusiastic reader who can’t put a book down, to the reluctant reader who would rather do anything else but read. To them, reading equates to pain and suffering. This is the group that gives me pause and heartache. I love to read and aspire to encourage my students to develop or strengthen their approach to reading. As a teacher, I delve into my bag of tricks and no matter how many hoops are jumped through or hurdles are jumped over, the reluctant reader is still running fast in the opposite direction of embracing books.
My colleagues and I have shared ideas about how to motivate and excite our students to read more. Ideas we have shared and tried are:
Book swaps: students bring in books to trade with other students trading books
Book recommendation form (this is an adapted/modified version)
Book talks: students get to have conversations around books
I have tried the Six Flags Great Adventure program with my students in the past and will participate again this year. I was reminded about the Pizza Hut incentive, so I am going to try this one as well. But the underlying question is: How to keep kids engaged and wanting to read on their own?
For this post I decided to do something a little different. I usually write this from the perspective of the teacher. This week I decided to go right to the source — my students — to get their ideas and input on how to get kids excited about reading. I asked them to be honest and thoughtful.
My question to them was, “What would help kids like you become excited about reading?” Their responses varied, some were predictable, many were reflective and several were eye-opening. Here is some of the feedback that I got from my students.
They also said . . .
Have books available that connect to real life situations
Continue to have cozy places to read
Allow students to select the genres; give more choice in deciding what to read
Offer books that connect to movies to help students "see" the characters and visualize what's going on
Create a book-of-the-week wall and let students be responsible for the display
I am definitely open to their suggestions and am going to start the Book-of-the-Week Wall to see how it goes. I will keep you posted on how our journey towards capturing the excitement of reading is going in our class.
Wish us luck!!