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Promoting & Modeling Joy of Reading to Students

Instructor: Katherine Garner

Katie teaches middle school English/Language Arts and has a master's degree in Secondary English Education

This lesson offers ideas and strategies for educators who want to promote and model the joy of reading to students. Teachers who encourage a love of reading while also teaching actual reading skills will help their students be successful.

The Importance of Promoting a Joy of Reading

Many educators know that it is hard enough to make sure that their students are reading on grade level; is it really a teacher's responsibility to teach them how to love reading as well? Studies show that students who read independently perform better in all subject areas compared to those who do not. Teachers may disagree on where their role begins and ends but strategies to promote reading could make a real difference to students. It's definitely worth a try!

Many people who choose to be teachers, especially reading and English teachers, are people who enjoy reading. It can be difficult to understand students who do not feel that way; students for whom reading has always been a tedious chore. Adults who have been avid readers their whole lives know that students who do not love reading are missing out on what could be a profoundly fulfilling aspect of life. Teachers can encourage students to think of reading not just as an academic chore but as a pastime that can be both personal and social, both intrinsically and extrinsically rewarding.

Strategies for Promoting Reading

Many schools develop campus-wide initiatives to encourage reading among their students. To promote a joy of reading, it is important to create time for students to read books of their choice independently in addition to academic texts. Many schools have a designated, school-wide reading time sometimes called D.E.A.R (Drop Everything And Read). During this time, it is important for teachers to allow students to read books, or even magazines, newspapers, and comics, which they find engaging and are not so much of a challenge that they feel like a burden to read.

Teachers can support students as they read independently by creating welcoming and cozy spaces in their classroom and around the school where students can read comfortably. Pillows, rugs, plush chairs, and softer lighting can help put students in the mindset that reading is not just a school task that is done at a desk under fluorescent lights and will be tested later.

Children should be allowed to read books of their choice.
Child reading a book

Schools may develop incentives, or rewards-based motivation, and games relating to reading. An example of this is 'Reading BINGO,' where students have a grid with different genres and types of texts to read. When a student reads something for each category in a row, they get a prize.

Reading challenges such as the ''Forty-Book Challenge'' can also promote a school-wide enjoyment of reading. A challenge where the whole school, including teachers, librarians, and administration, is committed to participating, is ideal. The idea is that everyone tries to read forty books in a school year from as many different genres as possible. Teachers help students create a log, either on paper or digitally, for keeping track of their reading and check in with them periodically to monitor their progress. Contests such as these should not be tied to grades or result in punishment if the goal is not attained; they should only be positive. Awards can be given out on an individual, class, or grade level basis.

Finally, teachers who are particularly interested in supporting students' love of reading can sponsor extracurricular book clubs, where students can meet once a week to discuss a book of their choice. Once again, no grading or pressure should be involved. The idea is to show how reading can also enhance social relationships and improve communication skills.

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