How to Use a Reading Interest Inventory

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  • 0:01 A Reading Interest Inventory
  • 1:11 How It Works
  • 2:20 Purpose
  • 2:44 How to Use It
  • 4:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Teaching reading skills isn't enough if students aren't excited about reading. In this lesson, we'll look at one technique teachers can use to evaluate and increase reading interests and discover how to implement it. Then, test your understanding with a brief quiz.

A Reading Interest Inventory

By this point in our lives, most of us agree that reading is pretty awesome. We read for education, for relaxation, for entertainment. Unfortunately, this enthusiasm is not shared by all. Learning to read can be a difficult process for many children. For those to whom this does not come naturally, the thought of having to read can be stressful and intimidating. So, as educators, it is our job to not only teach children to read, but to motivate them to want to read on their own, outside of a school setting.

Students who read independently will become better readers, but they're not likely to do this if they don't enjoy reading. Thankfully, some very smart educators have put a lot of thought and time into this and have come up with some practical solutions. One of these is the reading interest inventory, a survey to establish a child's reading interests. This technique helps teachers combat reading difficulties by tailoring individual reading strategies unique to each child, designed to pique their interest and teach them what we adults already know: reading is pretty awesome.

How It Works

Okay, so what exactly does the reading interest inventory look like? Basically, it's a short survey designed to identify the parts of reading that interest a student the most. Common questions include things like:

  • What are your favorite books you've ever read?
  • Rank these genres of books from your most favorite to least favorite.
  • What are your favorite hobbies?

There are dozens of these inventories available online and through educational research publishers, but the general idea is to figure out where the student's interests are. Now, since this survey is designed for those students who are struggling with reading, you may have to give the survey orally.

For younger students, many teachers also turn to the First to Five Test, asking students to hold up a number of fingers to indicate their interest. Read the title and the first page of a story, then have the student hold up a number of fingers to indicate how interesting this is to them, where one finger is not interested at all and five fingers is very interested.


So, what's the point of the survey? This is not a tool to specifically teach reading skills. It's all about motivation. The theory is that by understanding student's interests the teacher can provide the books that will be the most fun for them to read. If we can get students excited about reading, they will be much more likely to voluntarily read on their own outside of school, which is critical for their development as readers.

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