“I hate reading.” Those are the most dreaded words for any educator to hear. Today I read a post about what one teacher did when her high school sophomores used that dreaded phrase. It is easy to believe that this is a phenomenon only associated with older or struggling readers. Unfortunately it is not.
My daughter, an advanced 8 year old reader, said the same thing to me yesterday.
So, what do we do? Here are some strategies I have used with students in the past, and we are using on my daughter now.
1) Try using a reading interest inventory. A lot of the time, a child feels overwhelmed by the idea of having to choose a book from your huge classroom library. They don’t know where to begin and so they stall out and decided reading just isn’t for them. Administering a reading interest inventory can help the child figure out what types of books they are looking for when they want to read.
2) Make sure that you allow time each day for students to read texts of their choosing. When I was a child we had D.E.A.R. time daily, and my school does still. Even if your school does not have a school wide D.E.A.R. time, you can still have one in your classroom. A few minutes after recess or lunch with some classical/ soft music playing in the background can not only help foster a love of reading, but give students an opportunity to settle in and refocus before beginning lessons again.
3) Make sure you do have a variety of books for children to choose from when they are doing independent reading. I know many states and districts ahem guidelines about how much fiction or non-fiction a child should read at school, and there are good reasons for that. When it is independent reading time throw those guidelines out. When children are reading independently they should be reading about what interests them. It is a chance for them to read and make discoveries about themselves, and who they are when no one else is watching. It is a chance for them to gain a love for reading, and practice reading stamina. Let’s not micromanage every minute.
4) Incentivize reading without prizes. OK, as teachers we have learned to give out lots of prizes to keep them reading. In the classroom that often “works” best to get them to read, but it doesn’t work well to get them to love to read. It causes children to choose shorter texts that the can get through quickly and get their prize. Instead, offer great places to read, opportunities to discuss favorite books with friends, or showcase book recommendations. Allow children to read in a favorite spot. In the classroom this could be an amazing looking classroom library, or even a fun basket. Looking for some library design ideas? Check out my Pinterest board devoted to the topic here.)
5) Model reading for your students. If you do have a D.E.A.R. time, don’t spend it cleaning your desk. Read a good book too. Another way to model reading for enjoyment is to read a high interest book to the class the last few minutes of the day, and turn off your teacher voice. This is not the same as a “Read Aloud” where you are modeling decoding or comprehension strategies, it is a time to model reading enjoyment. Just read, don’t pause to ask all those good teacher questions because when you read for enjoyment you aren’t constantly interrupted with a bunch of questions, your reflections occur without you needing to stop. With older children it is nice to read books together. For example my son is reading the Percy Jackson Series, and my husband is reading it too. My daughter and I are both reading the same Rapunzle Chapter book. After dinner we have little book talks together over ice cream.
Slowly with all these strategies in place my daughter is starting to enjoy her reading time. Trying these out in your classroom should help reduce the “I hate reading” complaints for your students.
What do you do to help your students learn to love reading?