Hey Friends! Sometimes in the crazy chaos life world of the classroom we forget the purpose of why we are there. Is it to make our students have the most AR points in the school? Is it to get the best prize in the school? No. The reason the students are there is to develop a love of learning and master the standards set by the state that you live in. So how do you do both? How do you make sure that students make the progress on the districts program that they’ve purchased, master the standards AND love to read? This is the reason I wanted to share with you how to create a love of reading with your students.
Create A Warm and Desirable Space
Creating a classroom library can be challenging. Research suggests that we should focus on creating a space that is inviting to the students and comfortable. For my library, I used a teal shag rug. It’s lasted for nearly four years! The space was open so that I could always see the students and monitor what they were doing. The library was colorful so the students were engaged with the browsing process. You can read more about how I manage my classroom library here.
Let Children Decide What To Read
I have my books organized by theme. I do this for a very specific reason. Fountas and Pinnell ( as well as many other reading researchers) suggest that in order to create a classroom library that fosters a love of reading, we should sort our books by theme rather than level. This allows students to “explore” books by their interest. Children can then explore books that are appealing to them. Books that they desire to read and not books that they have to read or feel like they have to read because of a certain level. If we force kids to read on their instructional level all the time, they will never fall in love with reading. This is one way how to create a love of reading.
Teachers should teach students how to pick a “just right book”. First, students should look for a book that looks appealing to them or sparks their interest. Students should look for a book that they WANT to read. Next students should read the first page of the book and determine if the book is too difficult or too easy for them. If the student has a hard time reading more than five words, the student should pick a different book. In the primary grades, I would let me students browse through harder books. I would tell them “Browse for a bit, then find a keeper”. This way, they are still exploring the books they WANT and then moving onto a just right book at the end.
Independent reading shouldn’t be something students have to do, it should be something they want to do. We do this by fostering a love of reading and peaking a students interests. If a student is very interested in sharks, find books about sharks. No matter the age . For example, this book is for older readers.
Classroom Library Part Two
I have an extensive classroom library and while it drives my husband crazy every time we (he) packs it up, the students love it. The purpose for this is that we never know what books our students will like. When parents tell me “Johnny doesn’t like to read”, I try to respond with, “He hasn’t found the right book yet”. When kids find the “right” book, it makes all the difference! For example, as a mom, I didn’t particularly want my kids reading books like “Captain Underpants” and stuff like that, however, a child that “doesn’t like to read”, was READING. So I had to learn, to let go, and let it be.
By building relationships with your students and discovering their interests, you will be able to determine what kind of books are right for that particular student. Creating a large classroom library is an important key to making this all work because you just never know what interest your students will have.
I know this can be expensive. We are thrift store junkies! My family loves to hunt for books for the classroom with me. We hit up garage sales, thrift stores, Goodwill, and teachers who are leaving the profession for books. I have a list of common high interest books here.
These library labels are easy to manage and ink friendly.
I do keep a separate guided reading section of my library. This is mostly for me and instructional purposes. This allows students to read on their instructional level during guided reading time.
Display Books Around The Classroom
Displaying books around the classroom will peak students interest in what the books are about. I change these books out often and specifically use books at at different in culture and theme. This way, students are naturally curious about the topic before they ever start to read it! It’s a win- win!
Read Aloud to Students
As a first grade and second grade teacher, I read to my students all the time! When I moved to fourth grade, I wasn’t sure if they would “like” to be read to, but, I wanted to make them like it. HA! It worked! The older kids STILL want to be read to. They loved it just as much as the younger kids. I was able to pick more complex text and with advance story lines. Through read aloud, you have the opportunity to model for students how to read while thinking AND get students excited about the text. Select texts on purpose that purposely relate to the skill or standard you are teaching. Read them with enthusiasm, you are on a stage! Be careful not just to read a book to read a book, remember to always set a purpose for the reading. One skill that is typically apparent in every book we read is making connections. The students like hearing about our real life experiences and getting to know us outside of the classroom. Through connections in read alouds, students are able to see a different side of their teacher. This is a very powerful teachable moment.
The important idea is that elementary students K-5 still need to be read to. The idea that this strategy for just K-2 is just not supported by research. Reading aloud allows you to teach a standard, while helping students develop a love of reading.
By peaking students interest, finding the right books, modeling how fun reading can be and creating an inviting space for students to read in, you will have readers who WANT to read in no time! This is how to create a love of reading within your classroom.