This past year in one of our morning staff meetings, I had to present an education related article to share and discuss with my fellow teachers. Having taken so many speech classes and also being an elementary teacher, of course, I had to come up with an engaging intro before letting the group read the article I brought for them to read. Since the article that I shared was all about reading and specifically reading strategies, I decided to poll the group and see what their own personal feelings were on reading. This group consisted of administrators, high school, elementary, and preschool teachers and I was quite surprised with the results. About half of the teachers shared that they did not enjoy reading! (GASP!!!) A few of them told the group they read only when they have to because they are not very strong readers and others said that they only like to read books on specific topics like sports, for example. This got me thinking, how many of the kids in our classrooms actually like reading? And… how can we get them to like reading?
Since I began teaching 3 years ago, I feel like my biggest aim or goal as a teacher is to “make” my kids love to learn and to enjoy reading and so here are a couple of ideas that I have used (some I’ve come up with, others I learned about in school or have “borrowed” from others) that have had some success. I jokingly tell parents that I try to “trick” kids into thinking that all we do at school is play, when really, they are discovering and learning just in “un-traditional” ways. Sometime I’ll share some of the games we do that my kiddos have enjoyed but for now, I’ll address a few ways that I use (to attempt) to get kids to enjoy reading.
1. 1. Let the kids read books they enjoy. In 2nd grade we do monthly book reports and I always let the kids choose what book they want to read. I give them a minimum page requirement and sometimes I give them a specific genre that I want them to read, but other than that, the kids (and parents, too) get to read what they want to read. I’ll share in another post some ideas about how I attempt to make book reports more fun for the kids, too.
2. 2. Make in class reading time fun and enjoyable. I think reading groups/ reading circles/ guided reading time in smaller groups (or whatever you want to call it!) can be a very fun way to do reading class. Each group chooses the name of the group—this year we had the Boston Bruins, the Jaguars, and the D-Backs—and we gather on the rug with pillows and carpet squares and get comfy and read together. This relaxed environment definitely takes away some of the pressure of reading orally in front of others, gets kids out of their seats, and is just fun! I try to choose stories that they’ll like and have discussions that engage the kids and let them share personal experiences that go along with the story. I also like to have candy or stickers for rewards for good reading, good behavior during reading time, and good answers to comprehension questions. While I’m meeting with groups one at a time, I give the students seatwork to do which involves silent reading, a phonics practice page, and then some sort of fun academic or seasonal page like a word search or a coloring page. After that, they decide what they want to do—read, draw, color, or play with something quietly at their desks. My plan for next year is to incorporate learning centers during this “free time” so that one group is reading, one is doing seatwork, while the other are doing center activities. Another summer project. J
3. 3. Read fun stories TO the kids. I think that this is the time to expose the students to quality literature that they might not pick out on their own to read for a book report. I love to use picture books to incorporate into lessons for different subjects but my classes especially love when I pick chapter books to read to them. I just LOVE to leave them hanging at the end of the chapter, making them beg and thirst for more. I LOVE talking with them about what we just read and then asking them to predict what they think will happen next. I LOVE when they ask me to borrow the book when we’re finished reading it, so they can read it themselves. Can you tell I just LOVE reading to my kiddos??
Well, because of all this, one of my summer projects I want to work on is building up my classroom library and finding more awesome read aloud books to share with my class. Here’s a couple of my favorite read alouds that I already use in my class that have been a hit.
I always start the year with Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie, because it’s my absolute favorite story ever and surprisingly, a lot of kids have not even seen the Disney version of this story. Plus, for those who have seen the movie, it’s neat to discuss how the movie is the same and how it’s different from the book.
The next book I like to read to them is a more modern story, one that works for older kids and younger kids too. It’s by one of my favorite authors for children’s books and it’s called Frindle by Andrew Clement. The kids totally eat this one up!
The Adventure of Tom Sawyer is another great one that my class has enjoyed. They love to hear about all his adventures and makes for great discussion about the wisdom in the choices he makes. It’s a little more suspenseful but the kids really like to tell me how “not scared” they are!
Last year, after reading Tom Sawyer to my class, I had a boy ask if we could read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn since he had it at his house. Naturally, I told him we didn’t have time. Totally kidding! J I had him bring it to school and the kids enjoyed it just as much or even more than Tom Sawyer. When we finished, we were able to compare and contrast the two boys, talking about their personalities and their character and then we voted which book they liked better. Really. Fun. stuff.
These are a couple of my favorites but I’m curious, what read alouds do you use in your class? Any books you think should ABSOLUTELY be in a classroom library?
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