Wednesday, July 6, 2016

How to Get Your Students to Love Reading Without Bribery

I am always interested in new ways to encourage my students to read for enjoyment, aren't you? I would love for them to love reading and do it because it's fun....not because they will get a tangible reward. How do we do this?

I posed the following question on my Instagram and Facebook pages as well as here on my blog:

The responses were immediate and heartening......

"I started talking about the books I was reading or had just finished and my students would race to the library to grab copies".  -Mr Pearson3rd

"I have a teacher favorite box in our classroom library and all the kids are eager to read from it. Throughout the year they try to persuade me to read and put other books that they have read in the box too." -Third Grade Giggles

"Reading the books myself and suggesting that a student would totally love this book when I'm finished! Once someone hears that, immediately everyone wants to read that book!" - Rachel Vincent

"My whole approach to reading really changed after reading The Book Whisperer. I motivate kids to read by showing them I love to read! ...The 40 book challenge is a great way to allow kids to read throughout the genres and explore ones they may not even know they like yet". - The 4th Grade Fix

"I build them up a lot and say "Wow, I really respect people who read a lot."  And I say things like "I love talking about books." These sort of positive reading comments will encourage kids to talk to me at recess about books and what they're reading." - The Whimsical Teacher

"During independent reading showing them how in love with reading you are and it's contagious! When time is up, try asking, "Ok, who doesn't want to stop? I'm at such a good part!" - The Rigorous Owl

"Read only one book from a series and encourage kids to read the others. Read books yourself so that you can discuss books with kids. I spend time over the summer so that I can make recommendations. You like this, then try this book." - Marlene Olszewski, 5th grade teacher

1. "Have a bulletin board called, Caught Reading at Home. You send home a disposable camera with each student on a different day to heave them take a picture of the student reading for fun, reading to a family member, or writing about reading. You post the pics on the board. 2. Allow students to read what they want!!! Only permitting children to read only their "leveled" books is detrimental! Adults don't choose books to read that are on their reading level..otherwise I would stop reading my young adult" - Dr. Christine Hecox, 2nd grade teacher

"This year I'm going to do a book challenge, similar to what's described in The Book Whisperer. I want to make sure my students read a variety of different genres. - It Happened in 3rd

"I don't restrict them to "just right levels". I let them choose easier levels for pleasure or challenging because they want to read it." - Mindi Shelow


It's simple isn't it? All our students really want and need is to see their teachers as readers who love books. That's all. No stickers, points, candy, or toys needed. The common theme with these teachers was showing that reading is something to love and be excited about. 

So if you are frustrated because your students don't seem interested in reading for fun, try suggesting good books that you have read.  Be excited about books!

Finally, stop using "levels". Give them the space to find books they can read and if they struggle, so be it. Let them continue to search for and try good books, like adults do.

A special thanks to my expert contributors! Your insight and ideas are wonderful and confirm for me that our students don't need extrinsic motivation - they just need us! Now, I'm off to read a book that I can suggest to my 4th graders come August!  

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