Making Silent Reading (DEAR) Meaningful

Silent reading is not a time filler activity. Make the most out of this time with your students by trying out these four tips.

It is important that when we give students silent reading time that it is meaningful and purposeful. We try, in my classroom, to silent read daily for 15-20 minutes depending on our schedule, and what our "must dos" are for the day.

Students are reading their monthly self selected (with teacher guidance) novels, a free choice novel or non-fiction from our class library. I give them a reading focus for the day based on our current reading or writing focus. 
  • Sometimes I ask them to find a word that is new to them or that they feel would be new to the class, define it and put it up on our word wall. 
  • Other times I give them a sticky note and ask the students to practice a reading strategy: making connections, inferring, predictions, summary, 3 new facts etc. 
  • Have reading conferences with students during your daily silent reading time to find out exactly what they are reading, when they are reading and their thoughts and opinions on the novel. You can find out a lot more by talking to students than always having them hand in paper. 
  • Use silent reading time to work with a guided reading group in your classroom. They do not all have to be reading the same novel, just working on the same strategy. 
I change my reading focus activity daily because I use these quick checks as reading assessments to inform my teaching practice for whole/small group lessons. 

What do you do in your classroom to make silent reading meaningful for your students? How do you hold them accountable? 

I love comments so feel free to leave one below. 

My Book Suggestions for Middle School Students
Silent reading is not a time filler activity. Make the most out of this time with your students by trying out these four tips.


  1. That is such a great list of books. I've read, and loved, everything on there except Delirium and Safe as Houses. I can't wait for the third book in the Divergent series to come out. ~Stacy @

  2. I have only had them read silently, after lunch, to get them re-focused. I LOVE the post-it idea, especially since Inferences is one of our main standards now. Thank you!

    1. Thanks Phoneixgirl so happy this idea can help out another teacher! I love post it notes. I should buy stock in 3M!

  3. Thanks for this post! Really love the idea of encouraging students to read with more of a purpose rather than just reading itself. Definitely going to use the idea of a 'reading focus'. Thanks again!

  4. These are great suggestions. I'm always looking for ways to make independent reading meaningful and not just an easy way to keep them occupied while I'm with other pupils. I use a program called Book Detectives that was developed in Scotland. I have the different tasks printed and laminated and attached to a binder ring. When I use them, I usually assign specific tasks to specific groups whom I know have to work on that specific skill.

  5. Thanks for the post. Silent reading is such a valuable time in the classroom. I focus my students by reviewing our response log prompt for the day. I model how to respond to the prompt (for example, how does the setting have an impact on the events in the novel). Since we have a whole-class novel that I read aloud, we have a common reading experience and something to which I can refer when discussing literary elements or a task. After we've had the discussion, it's their turn to try using the skill I just modeled. I devised my own reading response logs to help with student independent reading.


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