One of the most effective ways to promote literacy in your classroom is by creating an independent reading space that’s welcoming and inviting. If your students have a comfortable place to read with a collection of well-organized, high-interest books to choose from, they’ll become more engaged in their reading and be able to think critically about it, too. More importantly, they’ll become stronger readers in the process.

These guided reading tips will also help your students develop the literacy and critical thinking skills they need to become strong, independent readers.

If you’re wondering what you can do to make your independent reading space even more welcoming and inviting, here are a few tips to consider:

Line your shelves with high-interest books
Stocking your reading space with titles your students want to read is a sure-fire way to encourage independent reading. As you get to know your students better during the school year and can gauge what topics they’re in to, be sure to add books that will not only speak to their interests but will also challenge them to think critically. For young readers, in grades 3-5, these book lists are a great place to start:

18 Must-Read Favorites for Third Grade

18 Books Every Fourth Grade Classroom Needs

26 Books to Get Fifth Graders Reading

Make sure your books are organized
A well-organized reading space is essential to your students’ reading success. Book bins are a must-have for effective organization. As your reading space grows, you’ll also want to consider organizing your books by level. The Scholastic Book Wizard is a huge help when it comes to organizing books and it’s also a great tool for finding books that meet the needs of all your readers. For more ideas on how to organize your independent reading space, this article outlines all the best ways to organize your books.

Add to the atmosphere
What surrounds your students while they read has a big effect on their reading success. You’ll definitely want to add décor that will encourage reading but won’t distract your young readers from the task at hand. Bulletin boards will not only add some color to your reading space and liven up the atmosphere, they’re great reference tools for students to learn about, and better understand, key character traits and text structures they’ll discover in their reading.

Keep it fresh
Creating monthly themes—or weekly, if you’re so inspired—is another great way to make your reading space more welcoming and keep your students engaged. Your themes can be inspired by your students’ favorite book series or popular characters like Dog Man, or centered around important historical figures or out-of-this-world events

Embrace light, space, and comfort
Great light, ample space, and plenty of comfort are the three key ingredients of a welcoming reading space. If possible, position your reading space near a window to bring in natural light. If not, add a few lamps to provide light for reading. You’ll also want to create a reading space with enough room for multiple students to read independently at the same time without them distracting one another. And of course, your reading space has to be comfortable—think bean bags and soft, oversized pillows—but not too comfortable. You definitely don’t want your students falling asleep!

Looking for more teacher-approved tips and must-have resources to help you create the perfect independent reading environment? Here are a few more tips and strategies to help make your reading space even more welcoming and inviting.

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