We already know that reading is important for many reasons, but sometimes it's a challenge to keep it both interesting and exciting for your students. Be sure to check out this post for some fun and easy ways to incorporate more reading into your classroom.
Classroom Reading at a Glance
As a teacher, you'd probably agree that reading in the classroom can sometimes get pretty tedious. While the basic 'sit quietly and read your book' method may work just fine for some kids, others may need more stimulating and less traditional reading materials and activities to help pique their interest and keep them focused.
That being said, even those kids who love to read may get bored with traditional reading exercises from time to time. Luckily there are some fun and easy ways to boost not only reading in your classroom, but student engagement as well. Let's take a look.
Make Use of Technology
Although not surprising these days, technology can be a simple way to incorporate more reading into the classroom. According to a report published in Educational Leadership, there are five reasons why technology can be of great benefit to readers: it's adaptive; it offers repetitive practice for struggling readers; it's always available; it gathers and organizes data; and perhaps the most important - it motivates students.
There are several ways to use a computer or tablet device to boost student reading and engagement. For example, Epic! is a fantastic app for ages 12 and under that offers a digital library with thousands of books, learning videos, and quizzes that kids can utilize as much as they want. Better yet - the app is free for educators. There's a good chance you'll discover that some of your students prefer to read from a device rather than a traditional paper book.
Another great (and free!) program that gets kids' creative reading and writing juices flowing is Storybird. With this language arts tool, kids are provided with illustrations, and they must write their own stories based on them. This can really engage students since they become the authors rather than the readers!
Think Outside the Box
Sometimes when it comes to reading, it's good to think outside the box. In other words, traditional storybooks and chapter books aren't the only useful classroom reading materials. One respected and retired Michigan educator, Judi Garnett, indicates that cookbooks were some of the most tried-and-true reading materials in her classroom. Not only did her students enjoy reading through yummy-sounding recipes and looking at their corresponding pictures, they were also exposed to math through the recipes' measurements (bonus!). She states that kids were engaged and interested in learning the steps it took to create each recipe, and they were also introduced to new vocabulary that was exciting to use.
Other ideas for alternative reading materials include school- and age-appropriate magazines, newspapers, and comic books. For example, Highlights is a great magazine for kids that places an emphasis on the importance of reading. It's good to remember that not every child (or adult for that matter) enjoys the same genre, and by providing a large variety of reading materials in your classroom, students are more likely to find something that interests them.
Hold a Classroom Read-a-Thon
While read-a-thons definitely aren't a new concept, they can be a fun and easy way to encourage classroom reading as a whole. Depending on your school's guidelines, perhaps you can devote a couple mornings or afternoons a month to classroom read-a-thons. Encourage kids to wear comfortable 'lounge' clothes and bring in healthy 'brain food' snacks (or provide some yourself). If you don't have an extensive classroom library, have kids bring in reading materials from home or check them out from the school library. You could also consider holding a read-a-thon as a reward for good overall classroom behavior.
Use Books as Rewards
Some teachers like to give out rewards for good student behavior. Typically, these rewards often consist of a pencil, a piece of candy, or maybe even a small toy or trinket of some sort. Rather than these types of items, why not consider handing out affordable paperback books instead? Many bookstores and big-box retailers have value book sections with many reasonably priced titles. This can be a great way to get kids excited about reading as well as give them something to work for.
Consider Using Audio Books
As you're probably well aware of, there are some kids who really enjoy being read to. Some even prefer it. While we always want to encourage independence among our students, audio books are a good assistive technology for reading in the classroom. Not only can they help to increase learning and motivation in struggling students by taking away the annoyance of reading delays, they can also help all students develop and enhance their auditory learning skills.
While we certainly don't want students to rely strictly on audio books, they can be a fun and easy way to boost kids' excitement about reading and listening. Further, most traditional printed books have corresponding audio books, and by having both, it gives students the opportunity to follow along.
Now that you've explored some fun and easy ways to incorporate more reading into your classroom, you should be able to put at least a couple of them into action. Obviously some of the ideas involve technology, and depending on your school and classroom resources, devices might have to be shared among students, which is fine. Feel free to do what works best for your personal situation.
If you're looking for resources for your classroom, including lesson plans, activity ideas and discussion questions, check out Study.com's Teacher Edition.