Hey Reading Teacher,
I see you! I know you want to do the best you can for your students.
How do I know this?
Well, for starters, you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t. 😉
But I know you want to do the best you can because I feel the same way! Every teacher I have ever talked to feels the way we do.
We don’t come to the classroom every day to just “hang out” with a bunch of five year olds (or six or seven or eight year olds for that matter 😉).
We don’t spend mornings, evenings and weekends off the clock preparing materials because it’s “super fun” (even though it is sometimes). #laminationjunkie
We do it all because we want to help our students. We want them to learn to read.
More importantly, we want them to love reading.
How to be the Best Reading Teacher
Well, I have a secret for you.
You may already know it.
It’s how to be the BEST reading teacher ever.
Are you ready?
How Can We Create Passionate Readers?
1. The Best Reading Teachers Lead by Example
My college professor gave me great advice for sharing my love of reading with my students.
She said that in order to make them fall in love with reading, they need to know that their teacher is in love with reading.
In other words, your passion for books needs to rub off on them.
One way to do this is to read engaging pictures books (or chapter books!) to your class!
Another way to do this, which she always shared was a nonnegotiable, is to SHOW your students that you read “every chance you get!”
You might be wondering…
How exactly do I do that?
Well, since they can’t see you in your pajamas on the couch reading at night on your kindle (just me?! 😂)….
And they don’t see you poolside in the summer with a good book and tanning oil 🙈…
She said to ALWAYS have a book on your desk with a bookmark in it, or opened but facing down.
This can pique your students’ interest as to what you might be reading.
We all know we don’t have time to read on our breaks (what a dream 😌), but we want the kids to see that we do love reading when we have the time!
You know that they will ask if they can read that picture book because My teacher was reading this!! or My teacher let me borrow the book from her desk and take it to my desk to read!
Such a simple act can send such a strong message!
2. The Best Reading Teachers Encourage their Students to Choose Books Based on Interest
One of my biggest pet peeves as a reading teacher, is when someone says “Oh, that’s not a high quality book.” or “That book is too hard/easy for you.”
Excuse me while I step on my soap box. 📣
If your reader loves graphic novels, that’s amazing.
If they like books based on a favorite movie or tv show, they should read those books.
And if a child is ever captivated by a book, no matter the reading level, number of words or content, that book is just right for them.
Is there a time and place for reading books on their specific level?
But if we want to foster a love of reading, we need to allow students to read things that excite them.
If you think about it from an adult perspective, it becomes glaringly obvious that interest level is extremely important.
I’m not going to dig into a book about motorcycle maintenance, but if you give me a book about teaching reading research, I’ll finish it in a weekend. Someone else will feel just the opposite!
This doesn’t pertain only to independent reading. Varied read alouds will spark our student’s interests. You can introduce them to graphic novels, simple chapter books, books that are based around favorite characters and more.
You never know which student may come up to you to ask “Can I read that book at my desk?” (Which, by the way, is one of the best feelings ever! 😍)
3. The Best Reading Teachers Have Conversations About What Students are Reading
Providing lots of opportunities to share about favorite books, characters and stories gives you a chance to connect to your student’s reading.
When I first started teaching, I used to only ask my students about what they were reading at home a few times a year. We would talk about it before I tested their reading level or during a random morning meeting.
Then it hit me: my students love to share with me. They talk about what they are watching, their favorite toys and what they ate for dinner. Why not utilize this to encourage more reading?
I began to to tell my students I was dying to know what they were reading. I wanted to read more books, so I definitely needed to know their favorites.
Before I knew it, they were sharing what their parents read to them before bed, a book they found in the library, what the music teacher read in class, and more.
This was my lightbulb moment! 💡
The more they shared, the more they wanted to share. They read more books and shared them with me often. I always, always, always have time to listen to a student share about a favorite book.
If you want a more formal way to start this conversation, be sure to check out my free reading interest survey for students! This is especially great the beginning of the year when you are first getting to know your students. However, I encourage you to ask students these questions in casual conversation, too!
4. The Best Reading Teachers Ask for and Encourage Book Recommendations
Sharing what we were reading opened the door for me to build deeper, more meaningful connections with my students.
If a student comes in on a Monday morning, bursting at the seams with excitement to share about the new Elephant and Piggie book they read that weekend, you had better believe I’m going to find that book to read it.
Imagine how amazing that student will feel when their reading teacher goes out of their way to find a book they loved and read it, too.
We can talk about our favorite parts, giggle over silly characters, or commiserate over sad story lines.
Now my readers aren’t just reading books, they are recommending that others read them, too.
5. The Best Reading Teachers Read Interesting and Engaging Picture Books Aloud
This one is (obviously) my favorite because I love read alouds and have an addiction to finding the best picture books.
There is just something compelling about a good picture book. Students, teenagers and adults alike get drawn into them. Whether it is because of the interesting story, the illustrations or pictures, a good book is an opportunity to share a love of reading.
Choosing quality books that students enjoy looking at and listening to doesn’t have to be a big challenge. I have compiled all of my favorites based on subject, season and content in this post! 😍
How do you instill a love of reading into your students? I would love to hear your favorite tips! Let me know below 👇
What About Phonics and Reading Strategies?
Don’t get me wrong, teaching phonics and reading strategies is a major component of being a great reading teacher.
However, if our students don’t have a passion for reading, those things aren’t nearly as helpful to them.
Next week I’ll be sharing my #1 instructional strategy for being an effective reading teacher (in any classroom)! Be sure to check back – I guarantee this is a post you don’t want to miss!