You know that reading is good for you, and as a teacher, you want your students to be excited about books.
Trouble is, your students just aren’t that hyped about classroom reading.
Maybe they’re ESL students, learning English as a second language. Maybe they’re just convinced they don’t like to read. Either way, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Here are eight ways to get your students super excited about reading time.
1. Become a Book Character
Books are all about imagination–what better way to get your students in on the magic than by dressing up as their favorite characters?
Go around the room and have your students name their favorite book character. Then, it can become a weekly activity where a few students come dressed as their favorite characters.
It’s not just about the costumes, though–get your students to reread their favorites by having them talk about their favorite book character to the class, with bonus points for quoting their favorite piece of dialogue or describing the plot in their own words.
2. Think Outside the Box
If you want your students to read, think outside the box…er, bookshelf.
There’s a whole wide world of books outside of traditional storybooks and chapter books. You can encourage your students to read things like:
- Longer magazines (Vanity Fair, Vogue, The New Yorker, etc.)
- Their favorite section of a newspaper (maybe the Thursday travel section of the New York Times)
- Poetry books
- Language books
You can engage the student’s whole family in this endeavor–ask your students to bring in a relative’s favorite recipe book. Students will be excited to read about tasty recipes, and it’s a great way to learn new vocabulary.
You can even turn it into a writing exercise by asking them to write their own story involving their favorite recipe from the cookbook or set a story in a place they read about in a travel magazine.
3. Add a Fun Chair
If you have resistant readers, a fun chair is one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to get your students excited about reading.
All you need is a circle of chairs (desk chairs work just fine). Then, you’ve got the star of the show: the fun chair. This can be your teacher chair, an Adirondack chair, a vintage wingback chair, a funky bright-colored chair you picked up at a garage sale, or any unusual and extremely comfortable chair.
This chair is the throne, and since it’s the most comfortable chair in the room, all your students will want to sit in it. And they can…if they read aloud. This can be from a book you’re reading as a class or a book individual students are reading.
4. Host a Book Exchange
This is a great way for you and another teacher to tag-team your resistant readers.
Working in tandem with another class at the same grade level, have each of your students collect one book they love the most. Then, bring the two classes together and have each student talk about why they chose their book.
From there, you swap book collections. Students can read individually or you can pick a book to read together as a class (better yet, let the students decide). You can bring the two classes back together when you’re done to have students talk about the books they read and how their thoughts compare.
5. Use Books as Rewards
Teachers know every trick in the book to nudge their students into good behavior, whether it’s a candy jar, a homework pass, or a small trinket.
Instead of candy, use books as a reward.
Many bookstores and big-box retailers (and even some libraries) offer value book sections with cheap paperbacks. Stock up on titles your students will enjoy and let them choose a book to keep when they behave well or do something you asked. Hype the books whenever you get new ones.
This way, students will start thinking of books as a prize instead of a chore.
6. Mystery Word
The mystery word works along similar lines–dangling a prize for good behavior.
If your students are being uncooperative or aren’t willing to read, break out a mystery word envelope. This envelope contains a word that’s hidden somewhere in the reading the class has to do for the day.
Explain to the class that whoever reads the mystery word while reading their passage out loud will get a homework pass or some other exciting prize. Since they don’t know what the word is, they can’t skim the passage ahead and only volunteer for the section with the word.
7. Serial Stories
Remember back in the days of penny dreadfuls and serialized fiction, where a chapter was released each week?
The same basic premise is at work here.
Choose a chapter book that you know your class will fall head-over-heels in love with. Read a short section aloud each day at the same time (maybe just after lunch), making sure to stop at an exciting part so that students will be eager to find out what happens next.
8. Stay in Bed and Read Day
This idea is a bit more involved, but your students will go crazy for it.
Choose a “Stay in Bed and Read” day. On this day, students get to come to school in their pajamas with sleeping bags and pillows in tow. Pick a special selection of books for the occasion (maybe in tandem with your school library or books that students bring from home).
You can even get the parents involved by asking volunteers to supply milk and cookies for the occasion.
It can even be a monthly event, sort of like a party to look forward to throughout the school year.
Move Minds with Classroom Reading
Sure, you’re teaching students about grammar and close-reading, but at the heart of it, classroom reading is about more than that–it’s about instilling a lifelong love of stories in your students.
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