principalaim

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Inspiring Young Readers: It is not just a summer goal

As the school year gets underway, I have started to put away all of the wonderful stories that I read during the summer. Never one to wait until the summer to add to my list of good reads, I have decided to work with my librarian to come up with great books for everyone to read during the school year. Before beginning our reading list, I’d like to remind teachers of the many ways to keep the readers in your classrooms interested in reading.

Why is it so important that children develop a love of reading? Why is it important to promote the love of reading? Simply put, reading is important because it provides a gateway to other people, cultures, and traditions. However, despite its importance, there are still so many children who do not enjoy reading. For any reader (especially struggling readers), there are many ways to make reading fun and enjoyable:

Read aloud to children. Children of all ages enjoy a good story. Reading aloud to children allows them to experience the story without the worry of reading. This is particularly effective for struggling readers because it allows them to spend their reading time listening to the story instead of trying to decode and comprehend the story.

Provide opportunities to choose books. As I mentioned during the summer, the ability to choose the kinds of books that one reads is essential to developing good reading habits. For beginning or struggling readers, providing opportunities to choose books is a great way to allow children to be active participants in their reading. Giving children the opportunity to choose their own books will also increase their level of enjoyment because they can pick a story that means something to them. One suggestion that might help children with the  process of finding good books might be to set up several different stations within your library (or classroom library) for students to choose books. I believe that exposing children to different types of books can make a big difference in developing a child’s love of reading.

Keep books accessible. The ability to readily access the books that they would like to read is essential. Whether your books are on a bookshelf, a basket on the floor, or a table in the corner; it is important that you keep books where your students can get to them on their own without assistance.

Help children identify “just right books.” If your students still enjoy picture books, listen to them. I encourage my students to read all kinds of literature. Nothing is too young for them to read. Chapter books are great; however, a good picture book can help to teach lessons through wonderful character development, moving plots, and beautiful illustrations. Often beginning readers are pushed too soon to read more advance books. I would encourage parents and educators to always include a good picture book in the arms of all readers.

Try audiobooks. Like reading aloud to children, audiobooks can introduce your students to the joy of a great story even if they cannot read the story themselves yet. Audiobooks can help develop good listening skills, and expose students to various reading styles and voices. Audiobooks can also give everyone in the class a chance to share the reading experience together. Many teachers who use audiobooks in the classroom say it can also help to determine a child’s level of understanding as the class listens and the teacher asks comprehension questions during the story.

 Always model good reading habits. As I said during the summer, children often do what they see the adults in their lives do. When working to develop good reading habits in your students, you must model what it means to be a good reader. During reading time, everyone should read (including the teacher). Let your students see you reading a variety of books (and/or electronic reader). Reading is fun! Help your students develop a love of reading.

How do you inspire your students to read? If you have ideas, please leave a comment on my blog.  To the next generation of readers, keep reading!

tlb

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About principalaim

Head of Lower School, Louisville Collegiate School

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