Do you have reluctant readers in your classes? With access to so much technology today,
including social media, it can be hard to HOOK your students on books. Even though it’s challenging sometimes, it is
one of the most rewarding aspects of being an English teacher.
Ever since Mrs. McClure, my 5th grade teacher,
enticed me to read Taran Wanderer from Lloyd Alexander’s series, The Chronicles of Prydain, I have
been a reader. I know that if I can do
the same for some of my students, I will give them much better chances for
success in college and life. In fact, research shows that reading can contribute to
success in many facets of life such as health, general knowledge, community
involvement, and cultural awareness. But to me, the real benefit of reading
books is the ability to escape the tedium and difficulty of real life at times.
With this in mind, I’ve put together a list of ways teachers
can hook students on books:
1. Capitalize on the upcoming campaigns for Banned Books Week and
Teen Read Week. Teens often have a natural desire to be
rebellious, so “teasing” them with books that have been challenged in schools and local libraries is a sure bet to get them interested in a
book. Lure them to read with the
unanswered question such as “What’s in this book that people are afraid of?”
and “Why don’t people want you to read this book?” Even many classics have been challenged, so
this may be a perfect opening into a “boring” classic.
2. Give students
choices in their reading! In the past, I started with a whole class reading of
novels such as To Kill a Mockingbird or The Great Gatsby, but that often shuts
down my struggling readers right away.
Now, I start my school year by taking the students to the library within the first few days and use this lesson to guide students toward effective book choices.
I immediately start Silent Sustained Reading (SSR) at the beginning
of class and reinforce their book choices by asking them to show their books
for Preferred Activity Time (PAT).
Additionally, I model by reading in front of them. And to help manage their reading, I have
students write the titles and authors of the books selected, so I can keep
track of their choices. This is useful
information when talking with parents and school staff. Finally, I assess their reading with weekly
reading logs, which gives them practice with the selection of meaningful sentences
and literary analysis.
3. Always be a role
model. Talk about the books that you
read and enjoy. During the summer, I am
a voracious reader. Most of the books I
read are for my own pleasure but I also make sure to include at least one young
adult novel. And since my students are
juniors in high school, many are interested in the same books that I read. This summer two of my favorites included
Mudbound by Hilary Jordan and All the Light We Cannot See Anthony Doerr. I also read Red Queen (thanks to a suggestion
by The Literary Maven) and asked my librarian
to order the series. I already have
several students reading some of these books.
I hope you like some of these ideas and can put them to use
in your own classroom. Do you have more
ideas for getting students engaged with reading? Please share in the comments below.