February 26, 2015

Getting Students to LOVE Reading (with 2 FREEBIES)

I'm not gonna lie, I'm a little very nervous to write this post. I'm no where near an expert on teaching reading and I've never been formally trained in how to teach kids to read. Frankly, this is my first year teaching reading as a true content area. I taught middle school science for 7 years, and just moved down to second grade this year. I always had a strong literacy focus in my classroom, but science still took the lead. Now I'm teaching kids who are just learning to read.
Enter panic attack here.
Dramatic? Prolly.
But I'm sure I'm not the only teacher who's felt that way... (Can I get an amen?)

I was inspired to write this post BECAUSE I'm not an expert and I hope that by sharing some of what I've found to work in my own (not always perfect and "learning is messy" style) classroom, I can help you find a way to encourage your own students to fall in love with reading! 

 Like most of you, this year I was faced with the challenge of getting students who are all over the spectrum as far as reading ability. I have a few kids who are on or above grade level, a few who are on or just below grade level, then a sizable chunk who came in well below grade level. As a newbie in second grade this has been daunting, to say the least. I know that in order for my students to grow as much as they need, and to continue to become lifelong learners, they HAVE to LOVE reading.

I have tried several things in my class to try and foster the love and joy I want to see when my kids read. 

Some have worked! (insert happy dance)
Some have totally bombed. (womp womp)

Here are a few that have been impactful for my kids:

1) READ! It can't get more simple. If we want our kids to read, we have to model that for them. I keep the book I'm currently reading in my classroom and pull it out when my kids are reading independently so they can see me reading too! They LOVE finding out about my book and are always curious about how many pages it has :-) 

2) Share Your Reading. Not only do our kids need to SEE us reading, but they need to HEAR our love of reading! They need to know how excited we are to read a new book and hear what we learn from it feel like learning something new from reading is the single GREATEST THING THAT CAN HAPPEN TO THEM IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD. This is where we, the teachers, turn it "on" and perform. We talk up our newest book like it's the greatest thing since sliced bread, we speak with enthusiasm about the characters or the information it contains, and we tell them WHY we love it so much! We know that what we love, our kids end up loving. This is also true of reading. The more we share our own love of reading, the more they will love it.

3) Reading Buddies! I ever-so-strategically paired my students up into reading buddies this year. (The buddies are carefully chosen based on reading level and personality.) Reading Buddies work together in several different parts of our day. First, in our close reading lessons, students pair up to read together. This usually happens on the second day with a text, after the initial read. Reading Buddies alternate reading aloud to each other, then they work together to answer text dependent questions about what they read. This has been marvelous! My students who struggle with reading and/or comprehension now have a friend to support them and their confidence has shot through the roof!
Reading Buddies also pair up at the end of the day to read their own independent reading books aloud to each other. Even my most reluctant readers love this time so much that they beg me for it more often! #winning

4) Student Read-Aloud Time. Something that is quickly becoming one of our favorite times of the day is during our snack and read-aloud. Each day I choose one student who gets to read the book of their choice to the class while they eat their snack. They weren't too sure about this at first, but now it's something they look forward to!! They LOVE showing off for their friends and they LOVE listening to each other read. This teacher is happy :-)

5) Turn Reading into a FUN Challenge!  Make reading fun by investing your kids in a class challenge. In our class, we took on the challenge of reading 100 books!!! When I first introduced this challenge my kids thought I was crazy. They couldn't imagine we'd ever read that many books. Now, we are working on our second "100 Books Challenge"! The best part? THEY get to write the title of their book on the chart when they finish it! And it hangs in the hallway...so that's a BIG deal. 
You might ask how do I keep track of the books and make sure they are actually reading them?? Don't worry...I have an answer for that! Book reports! When a student finishes a book, they have to complete a one page book report about what they read (hello easy comprehension check!) I have two different reports: one for fiction and one for nonfiction. (Click on the picture to download for FREE!)

Disclaimer: They aren't fancy...just effective!


That's all! I tried to limit myself to just trying a few things this year, so I wouldn't overwhelm myself..or my students! I'm sure I'll try some of these again next year, and add a few more. For now, this is doing wonders for our class!!

I hope that these ideas help to spark that joy for reading in your students like it has for mine! I'd love to hear YOUR ideas!!


  1. Thank you for sharing these ideas! Sometimes simple is better than fancy...especially in my self-contained world. Sometimes all the cute graphics (the stuff I LOVE!) distracts my students from the task at hand :)

  2. Like the idea of the silent reading time! Love this post- thanks for linking up!