As the weather gets colder and students spend more time cooped up indoors after heading home from school each day, there is no better time to stress the importance of reading at home. Encourage your students to spend some (or most) of that time reading. For some students, this will seem much more appealing than it will for others. However, you can motivate all students and help them enjoy reading outside the classroom with these strategies:
1. Read to your students out loud.
Show your students how fun reading is by leading by example. Get them excited about the story and show how fun it is. Aside from reading out loud, read silently when your students have silent reading time. They will notice! Talk with them about what you are reading and share your excitement and anticipation to read again when you get home or before you go to bed.
2. Set up a field trip or have guest speakers.
Many teachers have classroom libraries, and most schools have great school libraries. However, see if you can arrange a trip to the public library to show students just how many choices there are. An important part to stress is the fact that reading SOMETHING is what matters most. Students will be more apt to read at home if they are able to find something they truly enjoy reading.
Another approach is to invite local authors or librarians to your classroom. They can discuss their books or the library’s collection and show your students how passionate they are about reading.
3. Help your students discover books they will love.
You know your current students, and you probably have great knowledge of the books that past students, your children, and you or your family members have enjoyed. Recommend books to your students that you think they will enjoy. Even better, recommend a series so they are set to go—once they get hooked on the first book, they will want to keep going!
4. Create a reading contest or goals.
If executed properly, reading contests can be a motivator for students to read at home. Consider tracking the number of minutes a student reads and reward every student who meets the minimum you have set. Restrict the contest to minutes, not number of books, so as to not draw attention to those who are the most accelerated readers and those who are not. Set a beneficial but attainable goal, such as 15 to 20 minutes each night. Have students turn in a reading log in exchange for a prize or a class reward if everyone meets the goal.
5. Give students enough time before discussion.
Because everyone reads at a different pace, set a reasonable deadline for a book you are reading as a class and wait to discuss the book until everyone is completely finished. Take a step back before talking about the literary devices represented in the book, and first let students enjoy the book and have fun with the story in its entirety.