(Thank you Kristin and Katie of LittleRed for the We Love Books feature image art.)

May is “Get Caught Reading Month” and we know developing a love of reading is powerful stuff. But how do you encourage that? There certainly isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.

We turned to our TpT Teacher-Authors who wrote (and rewrote) the book on loving books. Here are just a few the creative, fanciful, fascinating ways that these classroom teachers, school librarians, reading resource teachers, etc. make sure their — and your — students have the foundation for decoding and drive to read.

For the Love of Reading: Start With the Fun-damentals

Early Elementary and Special Education

KB3Teach: Teachers Pay Teachers“The first step in teaching someone to ‘love to read’ is to teach them HOW to read. We tend to enjoy things we’re good at. Build a strong foundation in the basics and we increase the likelihood that our students will develop a love for reading.” says KB3Teach. Check out her Interactive Flashcards.

The ladies at Curriculum Castle suggest, “In order to develop the love of reading in very young students, it’s important to have them practice the skills that are fundamentally the building blocks for reading. These skills focus on phonics, letter recognition, and becoming familiar with beginning sight words.” They offer a No Prep – Just Print: Get Ready to Read resource. Proof positive, one reviewer said, “This was perfect for the emergent readers in my class.”

Elementary Library Mama: Teachers Pay TeachersElementary Library Mama has a fun activity she’s developed called, A Caldecott Medal Unit & Mock Election. Her suggestion: “To promote an awareness and excitement for award-winning picture books, my K-3 students participate in a Caldecott Medal mock election every year. Students learn the history behind the Caldecott Medal and the criteria used to select the winners. They then get to preview and analyze books that I’ve selected for them and decide which one(s) they would pick to be the winner as well as which ones should be honor books. There are always so many interesting discussions between the students as they try to convince each other which book should win. These books are always in hot demand Teaching Tykes: Teachers Pay Teachersto be checked out of the library for months after!”

Here’s a fun fact from Teaching Tykes, “Ten words make up almost a quarter of all the words used in English-language printed material (the, and, to, is, that, of, a, in, you, it). That is one of the reasons I stress learning sight words to help my students become better readers. Sight words provide children success in their reading efforts; thus,  providing a starting point for learning graphophonemic strategies.” And she says, “One fun way I promote sight word learning is with my Dolch Nouns Sound & Clip Cards.”

Word play is fun! Common Core Connection says, “I like to turn emergent reading lessons into games. One of my favorite activities involves playing concentration where kids look for pictures that match simple sentences. I also pass cards out and have kids walk around and look for their ‘partner,’ the child with the matching card.” Her Reading Comprehension Games resource is packed with great ideas.

For the Love of Reading: Make It Enjoyable, Overcome the Fear

Early/Upper Elementary

The Teaching Bank: Teachers Pay TeachersI love the Fredrick Douglas quote, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” Shelly from The Teaching Bank would agree, she’s helped many a student overcome a fear of reading. “I taught 4th grade in a high poverty/high crime area. Most of my students saw reading as something that was  done as a chore in a basal textbook at school, it wasn’t meant for pleasure at all in their eyes because they’d never really been exposed to it in that way. Ideally of course, we hope that parents would be reading aloud to children for pleasure at a young age but that wasn’t happening with my student population. I set aside time each day after lunch for read aloud time where I would read high interest books. Usually these books were humorous, silly novels that would get us all laughing together as a community of learners. I would end each day with silent reading time and I would join in reading my own book during this time to model the behavior. Through these ways I did see my students’ attitudes towards reading change for the better and of course their skills and test scores followed!” Here’s a link to one of her reading units, The Chocolate Touch Novel Unit.

Wild About Words: Teachers Pay TeachersWild About Words has had a similar experience, “One of the biggest barriers I have noticed with my 4th and 5th graders over the last 15 years, is their ‘fear’ of words! Often times, the greatest challenge for my struggling readers was their inability to decode multisyllabic words. Frequently, they would reach a long word, get frustrated, and the rest of the text would be forgotten. We worked really hard on developing a comfortable and safe classroom environment that included encouraging one another to use decoding strategies and our word work methods — and if you messed a word up… SO WHAT! We’d laugh about it, fix it, and move on. Great readers don’t know all the words, but they will initiate the strategies they have to try and figure them out.” Try her Word Work Getting Started Intermediate BUNDLE with up to a month’s worth of lessons!

Two Teachers on a Limb: Teachers Pay TeachersTry new ways to make reading enjoyable for your reluctant readers! Two Teachers on a Limb created reading strategy monsters, not to scare the kids, but keep them engaged, “Many of our students love to read words. They are outstanding decoders. What they didn’t realize is that the joy of reading comes from the imagery and ability to get transported to other worlds while reading. To help our students learn that reading is more than just naming the words on the page, we created strategy monsters. Never before have we had more students actively using their strategies to help them understand their stories. These little monsters inspired our students and motivated them to learn to visualize, question, and connect with the text. Each monster has a back story and the cards are formatted to mimic popular trading cards they love to collect. Students look A Shep: Teachers Pay Teachersforward to collecting and using the newly introduced strategy monster cards.” Start your own collection of Monster Strategies.

Or try pairing kids with kids to build confidence. A Shep says, “Confidence is key. Pairing up students who can be encouraging to one another is helpful. ESOL students can gain a lot of confidence this way. Kids love informational reading. Provide them with this is knowledge, and they begin to see why reading is important. They can learn new things! I love when they use what they read in a book to add to discussions in science.” Take a look at her Stormie the Rabbit Sun Safety Reader or get a free introduction with Reader – The True Story of Stormie the Rabbit.

For the Love of Reading: Connect Literature to Reality

Middle/High School

OCBeachTeacher: Teachers Pay TeachersIt helps if you’re excited by reading. Consider Ms Fullers Teaching Adventures: “If you’re like me you have a hard time passing up a new book so your library is ever growing. What I like, when I’m adding to my shelves, is to do a brief Book Talk about each. I often use this as filler right at the end of class. I show the students the books and give a brief (no spoilers) synopsis. I tell them who I think will be most interested by each book. I relate them to other books or movies I think they may have read or seen and enjoyed. I let kids thumb through them. I answer questions. I am EXTREMELY excited and animated when I discuss the books. I GUSH about how much I loved them and why. And almost always the books are immediately checked out.” Give her “Tears of a Tiger” by Sharon Draper bundle a try.

OCBeach Teacher’s take: Like many, I think it’s important to give students choices in their reading, and so I give them silent sustained reading for their novels several times a week in my classroom. However, high school students are often required to read mandated texts. It can be quite challenging for a teacher to engage students (especially reluctant readers) with texts that were written long ago. For this reason, I search for texts that connect central ideas between required readings and real-world topics and issues. For instance, I’ve paired an excerpt from Frederick Douglass’s ‘My Bondage and My Freedom’  with an online New York Times article about the inspiring Malala Yousafzai, a 16 year girl who was shot by the Taliban.” Make similar connections with her Real-World Non Fiction Connections Lesson Plan.

History Gal: Teachers Pay TeachersHaving choices empowers students to feel in control of their own learning. History Gal has a great approach, “I think giving students a choice is key. By the time students are in high school, they’re tired of reading assigned books. Yet, as a history teacher I want my students to be excited about reading historical fiction and non-fiction. I created a project where students read two books of their choice throughout the year (one each semester or quarter). I have a recommended book list, but students are welcome to chose their own book as long as it’s on the appropriate reading level. They demonstrate their knowledge of the book by completing an in-class writing assignment on an assigned day. It’s been my experience that students are much more willing to read about a topic they’re interested in. Additionally, grading the essays is never boring because each one is unique. I actually look forward to reading them!” Here’s the link to her Historical Reading Project.

Ray Gosa: Teachers Pay TeachersRay Gosa says, “I choose fascinating very high-level texts for my best readers — and I give them deep, fascinating questions to answer (points of discussion). For my struggling and/or unmotivated readers, I select very short (one page or less), very deep, and very interesting selections at the beginning of the term. The students are required to read once and answer one or two basic questions… read (the same interesting passage) again and answer a deeper (mid level) question or two… then read a final time and answer implicit, inferential questions. This process helps tremendously with their fluency development and it increases their basic reading skills through each cycle.” Here’s a link to Ray’s 42 Days to Reading Fluency Drills.

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Need help filling in your library? Mrs J in the Library offers a Teacher-Librarian Stores eBook Catalog she updates three times a year. It “showcases several TpT stores that sell materials specifically designed for school library or media center instruction and management.” Super great!