Our guest blog post is written by educator Brandy Metzger and highlights unique ways to encourage young learners to read more.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know.” Research agrees with this line from the Dr. Seuss book I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! Teachers also know that the ability to read well helps students in all subject areas. The question is, how can you motivate your students to dive into more books? Whether in the classroom or at home, here are some ideas to motivate students to read more.
Partner with another teacher in your school to give your students reading help buddies. This works best if there are a few grade levels between the students, with the older children acting as expert reading mentors for their younger peers. During buddy time, have the older student read aloud to the younger one to model expression and fluency. Then, have the younger student read something on their own level to practice their skills. Both partners will hone skills such as spelling, as older students feel helpful, and younger students have positive interaction and learning time with someone they can look up to.
If reluctant readers in your classroom feel shy or uncomfortable reading to another student, have them read to a class pet or an adult volunteer instead.
Expand your classroom library
Make sure that there are a large variety of reading materials available to your students that they can read throughout the school day. Simply having a class bookshelf with some fiction selections on it isn’t very enticing to some students. Seek out magazines, comic books, graphic novels, nonfiction books and newspapers to vary your offering. Yard sales, library sales and even other teachers are great resources for collecting these materials. Local comic book retailers will often donate a few freebie comic books to your classroom if you just ask.
Giving students lots of choices will encourage them to read something, even if they don’t want to sit down with a traditional book.
Offer students an opportunity outside of the normal class structure to read and discuss a book. Assign a book to students who wish to participate (or have the group choose) and encourage them to read part of it on their own time. Help them coordinate weekly meetings — possibly during lunch or after school — to discuss the chapters they’ve read as a group. The chance to meet together outside of class can be a great motivator for many students.
Read across the world
Challenge your students to read stories from other countries or books about faraway places, and track their progress in the classroom. Place a large black-and-white world map on the classroom wall and invite students to color in the countries they read stories from or about. Offer a reward for coloring in a percentage of the locations on the map. For example, if half of the map is colored by the middle of the school year, students earn a multicultural party.
The BOOK IT! program, which has been around for over 30 years, allows teachers to reward students who meet monthly reading goals by giving out a certificate for free pizza at Pizza Hut each month. To motivate students even further, teachers can schedule a “Book It” night at the local Pizza Hut in which all students that have earned their certificates can meet up and enjoy a meal together.
If you live in an area where there are no Pizza Huts, many other fast food chains will offer free kids meal coupons as prizes if a teacher requests them and explains that they are to be used as reading motivators.
Providing children access to a variety of reading materials, giving them opportunities to share their reading ability with others and offering some interesting classroom incentives will keep your students reading throughout the school year.
For more teaching resources, check out education.com.