“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies; he who never reads lives only one.” – George R.R. Martin
Summiting Mount Everest, exploring the great barrier reefs, solving a murder mystery or doing something heroic can all be easily experienced by simply opening a book. Many educators are avid readers who can extol the virtues of reading, but the challenge of getting our students to develop a love for reading is one that we grapple with on a daily basis. Why are students not reading as much as they should? Many argue that students are too distracted by other activities or they are not seeing good examples of readers at home or among their peers.
Teachers who have managed to successfully ignite the love for reading in their students, have suggested the following as some of the basic things educators can do to start the process of developing students’ love for reading.
Tap into their interest
Reading for most, begins with something they are actually interested in reading. Taking an interest survey or finding the opportunity for students to self-reflect on things that interest them sparks the ‘reading flame’. When writing, I always tell my students, “you write best when it is a topic that interests you; ” the same holds true for reading. once students have found a topic that they are actually interested in, they will be willing to engage with texts on this topic.
As a teacher your love for reading can be contagious. Talk to your students about books you remember reading when you were their age. You may even tell them about what you are currently reading as long as the content is appropriate. Get your students to blog about what they are reading. Better yet get them to tweet about it. Ask them to make a post on Facebook about their latest book and see how many likes they can get. It may be possible to reward the person with the most social media likes on their reading related post. If your students are too young for the real social media, simulate one in your classroom on your noticeboard and allow students to make their posts there.
Bring the book to life
“Reading is not as fun as watching television or doing something engaging” – how many times have we heard this? As educators, we can change this sentiment by bringing the books to life. Research in literacy shows that one of the signs of being a ‘good’ reader is having a running script in your mind as you read. Being able to see the text as a movie is a great skill that we should teach young readers. After reading a text, have students act out the scenes, draw story boards, write scripts or just draw what they were imagining as they read.
Reading is everywhere, literally. As educators, we must show students that reading is a part of our daily lives. By making reading applicable and relevant to students’ lives, a natural love for reading may arise as they find themselves reading everything everywhere. With younger students, pointing out signs around the city or school and encouraging them to read and understand these could ignite a natural desire to read things wherever they may be. For older students, having critical thinking discussions on how reading can impact their daily life in a positive way will also give students a purpose to read.
Nourish the reader within
Assist students with bringing forth the reader within by creating reading environments that are inviting. Create a reading area in your classroom and allow students to use it freely. Don’t be restricted by classroom space even the smallest area can be utilised. Soft cushions, ample lighting, a variety of books aimed at the various levels of the students in your class are the basics. For teachers who have a larger space and more resources, you are only limited by your imagination. If you can, invest in listening centres, computers or tablets, software for reading and sufficient books so that students can take books home on loan. Allow the students to help with the design of the reading space.
The search for strategies to ignite our students’ love for reading is one that will continue for most if not all of our career as teachers. Do you have a method which worked well with your students? Share it with us. tweet your idea to @TEACHUAE_MAG or use the hashtag #EdChatUAE.
By Melissa Monney