5 Easy Ways to Encourage Self-Selected Reading

02 February 2016 / Leave a Comment
5 Easy Ways to Encourage Self-Selected Reading | Encourage students to "just read" by introducing new books & providing opportunites for students to recommend books to one another. | Chalk & Apples

One thing all teachers can agree on is that students need to read. We give them self-selected reading time during class. We assign 20 minutes of reading for homework. We encourage reading every chance we get, but sometimes we run out of ideas. Here are a few things that are working well to get my students excited about reading!

1. The 40 Book Challenge

A few years ago, I got frustrated with the nightly reading log scenario in my classroom. I felt like I was inadvertently creating a situation in which students and parents felt the need to lie to me, and I didn't like it. Then I read Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller. (If you haven't read her books, you should! She wrote both The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild.) In her books, she encourages teachers to drop the forced reading in lieu of encouraging students to read for pleasure.

This year, I am challenging my students to read 40 books. Every time I am asked, "does this book count?" I say "Did you read it? Then, YES!" and my students light up! They love that their reading goals aren't tied to having their parents sign a log or to a computerized quiz system. They are finding freedom in being allowed to ready whatever they want, and they are learning to love reading!

Here's a free reading log to get you started!
40 Book Challenge FREEBIE!
Since we are already halfway through the year, I would suggest a "20 book challenge" for the rest of the school year, instead of 40.

2. Read Just One Chapter

Have a book you know your class would love if they just gave it a chance? Sometimes I use my read-aloud time to introduce my class to a new book in our library or a book related to something we're learning. Read them a chapter. Just ONE chapter though. Maybe even half of a chapter. The idea is to read just enough to get your students invested in the book, and leave them wanting to read the rest of the story. Don't feel like you have to start at the beginning, either. Jump right in to an intense part of the book that you know will leave them wanting more!

3. Book Commercials

These next three strategies make use of what might be the most influential resource you have access to: your students! When students are excited about what they read, and are given opportunities to share their excitement with their classmates, everyone wins. I allow students to perform 30 second "book commercials" in front of the class during short breaks between activities. Students love to do this, and often get their classmates interested in reading the books they have loved!

If you want to incorporate technology, you could allow students to video their commercials on a tablet, smartphone, or video camera. Animoto.com is a great free (for educators) site for creating book trailer videos, too. They even have a blog post with tips and examples! Check out this student-made book trailer on Wonder by R.J. Palacio:

4. Book Recommendations

Another way that I encourage students to hook each other on reading books is by assigning Book Recommendations instead of traditional book reports. Student book recommendations work much like book trailers, in that instead of retelling the story, students are working to hook their classmates and convince them to read the book. These make great bulletin boards, too!

This past month, my class completed these Snow Globe Book Recommendations, which have been a huge hit in our hallway! We used a clear dessert plate and craft snow to make a snow globe over a memorable image from each book, and used the base of the snow globe to share about the stories.

Snow Globe Book Craftivity

5. Make it Social

It's no secret that students are social beings. Embrace it, and use it to foster discussions about the books they are reading. Sites like Whooo's Reading and Biblionasium provide a safe place for classes to record what they are reading, comment on each other's books, and recommend books to one another. You can also use a class blog (Edublogs & Kidblog are great options) or a learning management system like Edmodo or Schoology to facilitate book discussions within your class or school-wide. Students love the opportunity to share their thoughts online, and the discussions often continue outside of school hours!

How do you get students excited about reading? I am always looking for more ideas! Share your ideas here or stop by my blog, Chalk & Apples for more great teaching ideas and tech tips!


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