Why Increased Access to Books is So Important in Building Strong Reading Communities
Children and adolescents need meaningful and consistent access to books at school and home. When they have access to books, they read more, and they read better. Period. It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s true.
As elementary and middle school classroom teachers, we have witnessed the power of book access to improve children’s reading confidence and competence. Access to dynamic school libraries and degreed librarians influences students’ academic achievement and how they feel about reading. Thoughtfully curated and well-organized classroom libraries ensure necessary instructional resources for teachers and engaging literacy invitations for children. And when children own books and library cards, they see themselves as readers. Book access is a game changer for kids.
It is going to take all of us to guarantee children’s book access. In Game Changer! we outline the actions teachers must take to increase children’s meaningful access to books. With these six steps you can build a strong reading community within your classroom:
- Create a sense of urgency to motivate change at school and home.
- Increase the number and variety of books in libraries, classrooms, and student homes.
- Increase children’s interactions with books through independent reading and read alouds.
- Help students develop strong rituals and routines for independent reading.
- Encourage students to listen, speak, and write about their reading.
- Model a literate life.
Without access to books, the persistent gap between children who have access and those who don’t will remain. Our students will not reach their full potential without books, regardless of the educational reforms schools implement.
About the authors:
Donalyn Miller is a leading expert on independent reading, children’s literature, and the author of two bestsellers, The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild. She has taught 4th, 5th, and 6th grade language arts and social studies in the Fort Worth, TX area and was a finalist for 2010 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year.
Colby Sharp is a fifth grade teacher at Parma Elementary in Parma, Michigan. He is the co-founder of Nerd Camp and Nerdy Book Club and author of The Creativity Project: An Awesometastic Story Collection.