A wise man once said, “The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Theodore Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, provided those words of wisdom. His entertaining, whimsical stories range from simple to complex. He had the amazing ability to use a small amount of sight words to create an entire book or use unique rhyming patterns and made-up words to capture children’s interest, something that resonates still with each generation.
Well, Dr. Seuss was onto something. You see, reading starts with a spark. Whether it’s the title, the captivating cover, the famous author, or the illustrations, something has to interest a child to make him want to pick up a book in the first place.
There are several ways to get students interested in reading, and the more interested they become the more they will want to practice and read for enjoyment rather than feeling forced to read for school assignments.
- Conduct a Reading Interest Inventory to find out how much time they spend reading, how many books they own, and what genres might interest them. You could also conduct a Reading Interest Survey to see what themes or topics of novels or chapter books they would want to read about.
- Ask questions about students’ interests: What do they like to do afterschool? What’s their favorite food or music? Which is their favorite subject in school? Do they like to laugh at funny stories or learn new information? Tell them that no matter what they like there is a book in the library, whether fiction or non-fiction, that they might like based on their own personal interests.
- Place several books out each day and read the titles. Allow students to choose which book they would like to hear that day and read it aloud with them.
- When students find a type of book they like or a particular author’s book, introduce them to similar books or ones written by the same author.
- Promote reading as something fun and cool. Hype up a particular book or theme in your class monthly by having book parties, creating puppet shows or skits about a book, or assigning alternative types of book reports that allow students flexibility with reading choice.
- Look into programs such as The Daily 5 that promote literacy on a daily basis and allow students to choose the types of books they want to read.
- Invite authors and illustrators to visit your classroom or school.
As teachers, you are tasked with helping children to grow and develop their academic skills. But part of your job is to also make learning fun. The more fun children can discover in reading and writing, the stronger their literacy skills will be throughout their entire lives.