Reading is such a powerful tool. Sure, we are required to teach reading standards, but sharing the joy of reading with my students is one of my favorite things. However, my students don’t always share my excitement. If you’re wondering how to engage your students in reading – you’re not alone!
For many years, I struggled to get all of my students on board with reading. Over time, though, I found some great tools and strategies that transformed my students’ reading experience. These are all easy to implement strategies, and you don’t have to completely redo your way of teaching.
#1 Celebrate Student Reading (and Share Your Own)
Let’s kick it off with a really easy strategy that anyone can implement! Make celebrating student reading a part of your classroom. This can take on several different looks, so here are a few ideas –
- Each Friday, ask students to share something they read with their table or partner
- Add a clipboard with loose leaf paper somewhere in your classroom. Have students add the title of the book each time they read one.
- Use a library check out app (or your school librarian) to track how many books have been read. Write the number on your board each week.
- Have a bulletin board dedicated to student book reviews
You might think, “That’s really all?” YEP! It can be that simple. My students are always commenting on the book number and bulletin board. It does make a difference.
Speaking of, I created book review templates to help jazz up your book review bulletin board. There is a template for each season, so you can change out your bulletin board if you want. I kept the templates simple, so you could dress them up or leave them as is! Commit to whatever you know you can be consistent with. The important part is to engage your students in reading!
#2 Flashlight Fridays
Promise me you will try Flashlight Fridays at least once! Every time I do it, my students are absorbed in reading. It’s simple to do as well. During independent reading or novel studies, turn off the lights and give each student a personal flashlight (these are the flashlights I like to use). Then, have students use the flightlight to read. That’s it!
Of course, you can go all out with decorations and more if you want. There are several other themes like this, such as Camp Read-A-Lot or a pajama reading day. Honestly, just have some fun with it – that’s how your doing to engage students in reading. You don’t need to spend a lot of money or time to make these reading days come to life.
#3 High Interest Texts
One year, my district required that we read these leveled texts. They were incredibly boring. Even I dreaded reading them. It seems obvious, but if we want students to enjoy reading, we need to give them texts that are interesting.
This can certainly mean providing them with texts around their interests, like video games. But it can also mean texts they can relate and form connections to. Naturally, we are more interested in things that apply to us. You can even use the months to guide you, such as holidays, seasonal activities, or celebrations (like Black History Month).
The thing that always gets my kids attention is science. We read passages about Careers in Science, Women in Science, and general Informational Science Passages. First of all, science is cool. Especially when we are talking about inventions and space. Second, we are often talking about people and things my students aren’t familiar with. Their curiosity gets the best of them!
Also, I like to incorporate other high-engagement informational texts. These informational passages include topics like “why do we burp?” and “why does mold grow?” These questions always get the best of my students. They can’t help but want to know more.
Both of these resources include informational texts with matching comprehension questions. They work well for grades 4-6. I like to connect these texts with media, hands-on learning, and even some fiction! Think Katherine Johnson and Hidden Figures. Or a geologist and a hands-on rock analysis.
#4 Reading Sprints
Lastly, who doesn’t love a fun challenge? The key to reading sprints is to make it a personal challenge, not a class competition. With reading sprints, students will read for a dedicated period of time.
After the time has elapsed, have students write down how many pages they read (one a sticky note, journal, or bookmark). They can set a goal to maintain or beat their reading pace from the previous time!
My students like reading sprints because the time is relatively short, usually 5-15 minutes. For students who struggle to read or stay focused, they can stay engaged knowing it’s a short period of time. They also get a sense of accomplishment from reading for that period of time.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to implement it all. My challenge to you is to pick one or two ideas from this list and give them a try in your classroom!