How to Begin the Year Building Excitement for Reading

So it’s almost time to go back to school. The best thing about a new school year is the excitement around it. Students come back ready to learn, and it’s great to find ways to keep that excitement going. Each year there will be students who don’t feel confident about reading, and as a result do not want to read. Here are some tips to get even your reluctant readers excited about reading.

* Pick great read-a-louds for the first week of school. Start planning now. Think of books that have messages and themes you want to promote in your room. In the primary grades I recommend Chrysanthemum
and Wemberly Worried
both are written by Kevin Henkes. If you teach intermediate grades, find one great novel to spend the first couple of months reading with themes about community, team work, or respect. Intermediate students love read-a-louds just as much as younger students, as long as you choose appropriate books. Suggestions include The City of Emberby Jeanne Duprau, and The Giver
by Lois Lowry. Whatever you choose for the first read-a-louds of the year, make sure you focus on authors with other books students can read independently, or even a series (like the Ember series) that students can spend the school year reading. Remember students take their cues from you – if you are excited by read-a-loud time, they will be too.

* During the first week, give each student a chance to read to you independently. Remember, you don’t have to assess each child week one (especially if you have a large class). You can, however, give each child 1 minute to read something to you. This is a morale booster, not an assessment – so feel confident being positive and smiling as each child reads something to you. To make less confident readers feel better, let them read to you privately at a kidney table or at your desk. If you truly have a non-reader, have them tell you what is happening in a picture. Let each child know that they have accomplished their first reading task of the year.

* Let your students know how much you love to read. If your brand new students know that reading is something that you value, they are more likely to value it too. If you have favorite children’s books, share them with your students. If you see a student reading a book that you’re not familiar with, ask them to tell you about it. Better yet, ask them to let you know if it’s a book that you should read when they’re done with it.

* Introduce your classroom library as soon as possible, and let your students check out books. Make sure that you explain to students how your library works, and the procedure for checking out books. Let your students begin taking books out of your classroom library as soon as possible.

* Make time for Independent Reading each day. Although you will have to gradually increase the amount of time that students read independently, this allotted time is crucial to your students’ success as readers.

* Get your students excited to begin Guided Reading. You want your students to look forward to guided reading time. This should be a time they know they will get to read with you, and do their best reading. Although Guided reading time will not begin during the first few weeks of school, let students know that what a special time it will be.

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