How to Turn Striving Readers Into Thriving Readers: The 3 Best Ways to Teach Students to Love to Read

We understand that children learn to read by reading. We know that kids need access to books they want to read; time to read; and loving, knowledgeable teachers who trust them as powerful learners and know how to build on their strengths. We know that an affirming approach rooted in love (like we know all teachers have for their students) yields powerful results and turns striving readers into thriving readers.

How do you go From Striving To Thriving? You reflect the trust, teach, transform mindset to provide students with access to books that will jolt their hearts and turbocharge their minds.

1. Trust: We recommend that you claim your rightful role as a professional decision-maker. Study the research, gather the data, and trust yourself to make wise and informed instructional decisions for your strivers every day. At the same time, trust your strivers—trust that with access to abundant books, time to read books they choose, expert instruction, and a chance to learn what reading is and how it works, they will become confident, capable readers because you’ve ignited a spark that will burn bright.

2. Teach: Recognize as well the critical role of sensitive, thoughtful teaching that is informed continuously by research and assessment. Remember, we are always teaching the striving reader, we are not teaching a program.

3. Transform: We’re firm believers that to fall in love with reading forever, all it takes is getting lost in one good book. When that happens, we discover that reading is one of life’s greatest pleasures. We advocate for our strivers every day so that they, too, will experience nothing short of the transformative joy and power of reading.

We have championed teachers throughout our careers. In our book, we invite you to meet your students with positive expectancy and nurturing approval. We encourage you to introduce strivers to the widest, wildest array of texts and endorse their choices without judgement; to let go of labels; and, above all, to believe wholeheartedly in every child. In these conditions, reading growth isn’t merely possible, it’s inevitable.

So trust the book, trust the reader, trust the research, and above all, trust yourself as the professional closest to the reader to implement instructional practices that best serve the kids in your class! Happy reading! 

To discover how you can turn your striving readers into thriving readers, you can purchase the book here.

About the authors of this post:

Stephanie Harvey

Stephanie Harvey is the president of Stephanie Harvey Consulting. After 15 years of public school teaching, both in regular education and special education classrooms, she worked for 12 years as a staff developer for the Denver-based Public Education and Business Coalition. She presents around the world and works with educators, schools and districts to implement progressive literacy practices. She has written a number of books and resources including Strategies That Work (Stenhouse) and The Comprehension Toolkit series (Heinemann) She is the co-author of From Striving to Thriving: How to Grow Confident, Capable Readers (Scholastic).

Annie Ward

Annie Ward is Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction for the Mamaroneck Public Schools in Westchester County, NY. Prior to that, she was a Local Instructional Superintendent for the New York City Department of Education, Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction for the Ridgewood, NJ, Public Schools, and a middle school English teacher. She is the co-author of From Striving to Thriving: How to Grow Confident, Capable Readers (Scholastic).

Book Talks: A Sure-Fire Way To Whet Kids’ Appetites For Reading

By Stephanie Harvey and Annie Ward

One of the best things you can do to promote reading volume is to deliver daily, brief, enthusiastic book talks. A well-delivered book talk, or “blessing of the book,” makes kids aware of the vast universe of books while spotlighting diverse genres, formats, lengths, structures, and themes. When you mindfully book-talk about a range of titles, you promote respect for all readers’ tastes and capabilities and diminish the perception that "harder is better."

Here are the seven steps to effectively bless a book:

1. Hold the book up—let kids see it. Show the cover; flip through the pages. Point out any interesting features (e.g., endpapers, maps, photo inserts).

2. Describe its genre. ("Chains by Laurie Halse Andersen is historical fiction, but it feels more like realistic fiction because it utterly transports you back to lower Manhattan in the 1700s.”)

3. Relate it to books kids are already familiar with. (“If you liked Because of Winn-Dixie, you’re going to love Rain, Reign with its equally lovable dog…”)

4. Read a well-chosen passage aloud. It’s important for potential readers to hear the “voice” of the book to see if it appeals to them.

5. Provide a concise, spoiler-free plot summary.

6. Invite kids who’ve read the book to further endorse it and build social energy.

7. Pass the book around and/or leave it out and accessible so kids can have a look at it right away.

Book-talk authors with multiple books, with whom a reader can grow. Authors Kevin Henkes, Jacqueline Woodson, and Kate DiCamillo have written picture books, chapter books, and novels.

It’s vital to bless books from a wide range of genres and levels of complexity to include readers of all stripes. Penny Kittle suggests keeping a running list of titles you’ve book-talked. Not only does this provide kids with a resource to refer back to; it helps you create balance over time.

The tips in this post are extracted from a practical lesson in our book From Striving to Thriving.