We want our students to finish the year deeply engaged with self-selected texts, maintaining a sense of urgency about the importance of their reading lives. These eight ideas will help keep interest high until the last bell of the school year rings.
Tidy the Tubs
Give everyone a book tub and a few minutes to straighten it. Students check to see if all the books in the tub belong there, return misplaced books to their correct homes, and tidy it up by making sure all the covers face front. This brief activity accomplishes two things: the library gets a quick cleanup, and interest in books is generated. It isn’t uncommon to hear, “Oh! I want to read this!” or “_______, you would love this book, because you are interested in books about _________.”
Student Book Talks
If you grew up with Reading Rainbow, an image immediately comes to mind of what happened right after LeVar Burton said, “But you don’t have to take my word for it.” Student recommendations can be highly effective ways to increase interest.
Teacher Book Talks
Grab a stack of books you believe students will love. Briefly tell about the plot of each one or read its blurb. Ask who wants it. If more than one person wants a particular book, put names on a sticky note. Students will pass it to the next person on the list when they are finished.
When we know who they are as people and as readers, it becomes second nature to match our students with books, especially when we are voracious readers of children’s literature ourselves. Students are often highly motivated to read a book when it’s accompanied by the words “I found this book and thought of you.”
Bring in newspapers, poetry, graphic novels, and magazines.
If you do not have an extensive library and students are ready for some new material, do a temporary trade with another teacher. Swap tubs for a month.
Bring new choices in by borrowing books from the public library. The librarian can suggest titles and authors for your age group.
Read Around is an idea that came from Steven Layne and is one of our favorites. Students get to preview a book or magazine for about a minute. When you say, “Pass,” they pass the book to someone else. Students add items they are interested in to their “want to read” list.
It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to keep motivation high. These ideas will help your readers stay engaged until they have to leave you for the summer.