Becoming a Lover of Reading

Posted: December 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

I just read “Stop trying to make your kids read” by Principal Joey, I wanted to share what I do to help students enjoy reading.

First, a little background on me. I grew up wanting to read books at home. I was allowed to buy from the Scholastic Books through book orders and also got books at the book fairs at school. I never really saw my parents read, but I know they encouraged it. However, at school, I would sometimes not read during free read time and I would be sad if I didn’t get my free pizza for the month because I didn’t read enough.

As an educator, I have taught in a fourth grade classroom where I challenged my class of 25 students to read 100,000 minutes (of outside school reading) at the beginning of the school year. We had celebrations at each 10,000 minute mark. Students also had individual goals that I set each week when I would see how much they read that week. Yes, I had some students with goals of 3 hours of reading in a week, and goals of only 20 minutes. Some students needed a little more proding, but when they saw their goal met and their excitement, then they read a little more.

During that school year, we were nearing April and I didn’t think we would reach the 100,000 minute goal. I set a date where I was going to open my classroom doors in the evening and everyone was allowed to come and read. Families, friends, anyone, and all minutes by everyone in the 2 hour time would be counted. I saw families come and read together. They sat on the floor and read their own books, or some read books that I had laid out together. Everyone enjoyed coming in and reading.

Principal Joey mentioned, “Give Students Time”, and I agree. Pulling students from their home and the distractions of tv, computers, games, anything, will help students focus on reading. Some families came for only 20-30 minutes while some were there the entire 2 hours. Giving students time makes a huge diffference in encouraging to read.

I also agree with Joey with the tip of “Match Students With Books/Give Them Choice”. In the past 3 years I have been teaching 8th graders. The building as a designated 20 minutes of reading each day. I take the time to visit with students and find books in my personal library to help them find a book to read. Students who are not so great in the classroom are reading my room. In fact, I’ll see them pull the book out during class when they finish their work.

Helping match students with books is not always easy. I have spent thousands of dollars on the books in my classroom. Some you can’t find in the school library. Yes, I monitor their reading and have discussions with students about the books they are reading and many have told me that their parents are reading the books as well and that “mom is buying me this book for Christmas”. Oh, did I mention I teach math?

I’m a life long reader. I enjoy reading. Just like the kids though, I’m distracted by technology and I don’t always read at home. I have helped students with reading tips that I do. When sitting at watching a tv show, there are commercial times. During commercials, pick up your book and read. In an average hour tv, you can get 10-15 minutes worth of reading in. I also feel that can help with comprehension because you are reading in short snippets. I have seen some students read for 30 straight minutes and not be able to tell you what they read because they are going through the motions and not really thinking about what they are saying (but that’s another post).

I guess to sum up what I’m saying is that forcing kids to read is not always good. Kids can’t just pick up a book and say “I LOVE READING!!!!” For many, it has turned into a chore and they hate chores. Do I have kids fall asleep during the silent reading time? Of course I do. Guess what, I fall asleep when reading sometimes, too. Let them catch that cat nap, but check in on them later about their reading. When do they read? Can I help you pick out a book? What can I do to help you?

  1. jsagel says:

    Thanks for your thoughts on my post. Really love the idea of celebrating reading vs. rewarding it. Having a family read a thon is a very cool idea!

  2. What a great idea to create time and space for families to come together in the school and read. Not only does this encourage families to read together–it helps the family (parents, guardians, etc.) become involved in the school community.

    I also like your point to not let technology distract you from reading. Picking up a book during commercials is a great start for reluctant readers!

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