Motivating Students to Read.
Make it Simple and Fun!!

Motivating students to read has always been a challenge for teachers.

There may be some students in your classroom that love to read, but most find it a chore.

Even after you have taken your class to the library for book exchange, where there are thousands of books to choose from, you'll get many comments such as "There's nothing to read" or "I couldn't find a book".

Reading is an important criteria in the assessment of student achievement which you need for your report card comments. What are you, as an effective teacher, going to do to develop motivation to read in your students?

Motivating students to read doesn't have to be taxing and stressful.

Let me describe several successful methods that I have used to develop great motivation in the classroom to encourage your students to read.

1. If you have a librarian in your school, you are so lucky, as he/she can be a fabulous resource.

At the beginning of the year, arrange a time that you can bring your class to the library to discuss the various types of books that your students can take out and how to find them -whether its science fiction, autobiographies, picture books, or a series such as "Goosebumps" or "Robert Munsch's" books.

Your librarian may also be able to advise you on how you can be more successful at motivating students to read.

2. In the primary grades "book talk" has been extremely successful in motivating students to read. Writing a letter to your students' parents explaining this program is a fabulous "parent teacher communication".

For example, your students have a week to read a book, and the parents are asked to sign a "reading log" each night the student reads their book (also write it in the student's agenda each day).

Then on a predetermined date students would tell the rest of the class about their book. This programme was very beneficial as a form of student self assessment and great for building student self esteem. A class discussion could follow if you chose to.

3. To develop motivation in students in the junior grades you can create various types of book reports. I usually would give students three weeks to read a book and complete a book report. Again, putting this assignment in the student's agenda is vital for parent teacher communication.

You can also do different things to make the presentation more interesting:

* I had my students pick a number out of a hat to determine the order of the presentations - just to add a little excitement.

* Sometimes I changed it up a little and asked them to dress up as one of the characters in their book or use items mentioned in their book as they did their presentation. Be sure to refer to the book reports in your report card comments in the Language Arts/English section.

* I would create rubric samples/rubric templates choosing the criteria I wanted to grade my students on. During each presentation, the rest of my students were focused on scoring rubrics and had to pay attention. (I always found it interesting when I was grading rubrics from the class, to see the marks they gave their friends and how honest they would be).

4. You can create a "bookworm" for motivating students to read. Draw a circle on construction paper (e.g. using the bottom of a large juice can)and each time a student finishes reading a book, write the name and author of the book and the student's name inside the circle.

The first circle is the worm's face. Place it on one corner wall of the classroom. As each student completes a book, create another circle and attach it to the previous circle, creating a bookworm. (If you are a reader, join in and add your circle).

Challenge your students to fill up all 4 walls with the bookworm by the end of the year and then celebrate by having a book party. The student with the most circles wins a prize.

I encouraged the use of Scholastic publications in my class for years. Each month when their flyer came, I went over all the books, crossword activities, games, teacher activity books, etc. that they were promoting and selling.

I would recommend to my students (no hard selling!) to buy any of their products that I thought were worthwhile, but rather than buying on their own I would pool the money collected and buy in batch (since Scholastics offers free books to teachers based on the $$ amount purchased). These free books were then available to any and all of my students throughout the year.

(Make sure to promote the idea to parents through the student agenda to maintain good teacher parent communication and keep it on the up and up).

It was truly amazing,as the years passed, how my bookcase filled up with free books from Scholastics and benefiting all of my students.

5. One year my class was involved with "Pizza Pizza". They had a school promotion, whereby if your students read a certain amount of books (200), by the end of the year, "Pizza Pizza" would organize a class party with free pizza and beverages. Now that's great classroom motivation and an easy way for motivating students to read!!!

So now that you've taken the time to read this page, you've learned two new classroom party ideas - a book party and a pizza-book party - AND several successful teaching strategies for motivating students to read.

Good Luck!!!

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