By Beth Richards
As a literacy interventionist, I work with many students who find reading to be a challenge and, as a result, struggle to feel excited and happy to read. Literacy expert and former professor Richard Allington reminds us that reading volume predicts reading growth, so our students need opportunities and motivation to read, read, read. Here are some suggestions for making reading fun and engaging for all readers.
Students need access to books that are meaningful to them and pique their interest. Offer an open choice of books in a classroom or school library or from a set of books picked by the teacher. Another option is asking students to choose from a pre-selected list on an electronic bookshelf. Create an author study box full of books by a favorite author, for example, Joy Cowley, and encourage students to select books from that box.
Listening to audiobooks, reading digital books, or allowing students to record themselves reading are all ways to incorporate technology into your literacy time. Recordings could be shared with local nursing homes or animal shelters to help students have a purpose for their reading. In addition, technology can be a great way to engage families with reading at home.
Bringing awareness to available books through book talks is a great way to excite students about reading. The teacher can enthusiastically share brief summaries (without giving away the ending) while displaying the book. This does not need to take long; it can be done during transition times, morning meetings, or literacy time. Allowing students to do their own book talks is an option as well. It is helpful to place book talk books in one location so students can easily find them.
Introduce a Book Series with a Read-Aloud
Reading aloud a book from a series is a great way to hook students into the series and leave them wanting to read more stories about their favorite characters. For example, many students love reading about Mrs. Wishy-Washy. Reading aloud one of the many Mrs. Wishy-Washy stories can motivate students to want to read more of those books. The read-aloud also supports more in-depth learning about the characters and how the books in that particular series are organized.
Allowing opportunities for students to share their opinions and thoughts about books with peers is imperative. Book clubs are one way to provide these opportunities. In addition, writing book reviews and making recommendations to peers is highly motivating. Word of mouth is extremely powerful!
Partner reading is fun and engaging. Try pairing students in class or reaching out to a different grade level class to set up reading buddies. Capitalize on chances to read to parent volunteers, classroom support specialists, and even school therapy dogs.
When students work together in a small group to share in the telling of a story out loud, the reading experience changes. Students become an important part of a supportive team with a specific purpose that encourages them to be active readers. Simple stories with dialogue make it fun for students to play the roles of different characters.
Reading = Reading
Providing time for students just to read is essential. Much of our literacy time is spent asking students to do all sorts of things besides reading - flagging, writing, completing worksheets, etc. Setting aside time for students to do nothing besides be engaged with a book is essential for allowing students to learn about themselves as readers.
These are just a few ways to help make reading fun for all students. If we want students to love reading, we must provide them with opportunities to read. For some of our students, engaging activities like those listed above can make them excited and willing to take advantage of those reading opportunities.
With character-driven fiction and original storytelling, the All Joy Set includes 156 books by best-selling children's author Joy Cowley. Nourish a love of reading in your classroom with books highlighting lovable, recurring characters and humorous plot twists. Ideal for K–2 students. Click here for the Spanish Joy Cowley Set.
Beth Richards has been teaching for twenty years. For the last nine years, she has been a literacy interventionist and Reading Recovery teacher. Prior to that, she taught kindergarten, third, and fourth graders. She loves spending her days helping her students develop and share her love of reading.