An Essential Building Block for Success
Did you know that each year, after grade 2, kids slow down significantly in the amount of time they spend reading?
We all know how important reading is for kids. But are you aware of just how essential it is for success? Did you know that over 60% of prison inmates are illiterate? Did you know that reading fluency and time spent reading directly correlates to level of education, which in turn is directly correlated to economic success?
And that’s not all, reading can take you anywhere. You can travel to faraway places, learn a new skill or hobby or just escape the everyday.
As a student progresses through grade school, time spent reading significantly decreases each year. So our students are able to read better but choose to do it less and less each year. Why?
Humans do tend to do things that are pleasurable. If reading is viewed as a task or not pleasurable, then people, especially young people, avoid it at all costs.
That’s where teachers come into the formula. It’s our job not only to teach kids how to read but to grow in them a love a reading that will last a lifetime. That lifetime love of reading is the ultimate gift a teacher can give.
Four Ways to Instill a Love of Reading
Reading is vital, we all agree. But it isn’t always fun some may say. With a little planning and creativity you can teach your students to love reading and see it as a pleasurable way to spend time.
There are many ways to do this; here are just a few ideas to get you started.
1) Partner read – After a few weeks of school, once you get to know your students a bit, pair them up to read. Pick a specific day of the week and time of the day for partner reading. At this time your students will each select a book and read together with their partner. You can either have each student read a book to the other, or, the way I really like to do it, is have the partners read a book together. One student reads the left side, one the right. This is an activity the class will look forward to week after week. When they look forward to this, they’re looking forward to reading.
2) Mentor read – Get together with another teacher in the school to start this. If you teach a younger grade level talk with a teacher from an older grade and vice versa. Then pair up the students in the classes together, older student with a younger student. (Groups of three work too if your numbers are better suited to that.) Choose a set day and set time each week or two for the classes to meet. Alternate classrooms, go outside if you are able, get permission to meet in the cafeteria or anywhere different. Stick to the schedule and let the partners meet each week. Have both partners take time to read to the other. This is not only a great way to inspire reading it is great for both students’ self esteem and character. Kids really look forward to this every week.
3) Mystery Reader – With email and the internet this can be easy to set up. If you have a homeroom mom enlist her help on this too. Pick a day or two each week, a set time and send out a calendar to parents. Ask them to sign up to come to class one day of the year ( or two) and read to the class for a half hour. Tell them to keep their day a secret from their child too. I like to a Thursday or Friday and use the week to build up the excitement. Ask questions, “Who do you think will be the mystery reader this week? What will they read?" Keep track of guesses, make tallies, create graphs… you can turn this into a mini math lesson too. Let the parent bring their own book or keep a stash of books on hand that you know the kids haven’t read yet for parents to use. This one that both students and parents both love to do.
4) Book of the Week – Use the standard alphabetical order and choose a student each week to bring in and share their favorite book. Let the selected student sit at the teacher’s desk or in the reading area and read their book to the class. For older students they can read an excerpt from the book and give a summary of the book. You can also ask the student to do a follow up activity based on the book if time allows. Use this book for ideas for lessons for the week and really reinforce concepts.
There are many more ideas and ways to make reading fun in your classroom. Anything that keeps the kids interested and makes them look forward to it is the best bet. It can be simple to do, yet many times we overlook it, and the consequences are harmful.
Think of teaching kids not only to read but to love to read. Make it fun and pleasurable for them and your students will be rewarded their whole lives.