How To Encourage Students To Read a Variety Of Genres

Ideas from teachers on how to get students to read a variety of genres from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.

It is very important for students to experience a variety of text during the school year. When students are exposed to a variety of genres they have different reading experiences and find reading more enjoyable. Each month I assign a different genre for my students. They select a book for their independent reading based on the featured genre and their reading level.

Below is a curated summary of our #2ndaryELA chat on Reading Across the Genres.

Q1: Do you require students to read a variety of genres? Explain your thinking.
  • Teach many genres. Often students read fiction & non-fiction for independent reading. Read plays with whole class at end of year 
  • I require students to read a different genre each month and I try to ensure my anchor texts are not all the same genre
  • As an RTI specialist, most reading with students is non-fiction. As a classroom teacher though, I think it is better to encourage than require 
  • I used paired passages to cover different genre types. I always try to match a fiction with a nonfiction and a poem
  • Use/teach a variety of genres--1 genre per quarter. Want to expose students to different ones and stretch themselves
  • In my curriculum across the school year, I teach a classic, dystopian, Shakespeare and historical fiction and build in articles
  • Our textbook helps, but even without I would require. It helps students see thematics across genres, style, etc.
  • This year I've really pushed more non-fiction to kids - keeps them more interested especially with current events issues such as the election 
  • Yes, non-fiction is super important!
  • My students can choose anything for their Million Word Challenge, but I'll admit I don't have good variety of non-fiction in my library
  • I think different genres require different levels of thinking. Non-fiction seems to be more technical; fiction/poetry, abstract. 
  • I have found that I can still do novels but integrate the non-fiction via concepts/themes presented in the novels
  • Allowing students to explore one topic through different genres allows them more chances to "get it."

Q2: What is your favourite genre to teach? Give an example of a favourite lesson. 
  • Magical realism is a close 2nd. Students can make their own stories based on real life, prove movies are MR, etc. 
  • I love teaching poetry. Good genre for practice with close reading. I like to pair poems with other texts by theme 
  • I LOVE science fiction short stories, but this gets hardly any attention in my classes.
  • I use @KellyGToGo Article of the Week to get more non-fiction into my classroom. My students enjoy reading something new each week
  • I love teaching historical fiction most! Didn't realize how much I loved it until I started teaching it
  • @allkindsof_ELA @Newsela @ReadWorks @ReadTheory are all programs I've used this year to help integrate non-fiction 
  • My favorite genre is "poetry." I think my students think harder about it than anything else
  • My favourite genre is historical fiction. After reading Kindred, my students had to pick a time period to research, use as story setting 
  • I also like to teach poetry because not many of my kids come to me enjoying it. I like to build their relationship with it
  • I do love Newsela! Don't remember to use it often enough..
  • American War poetry! Love taking them through the different poems to see similar and different reactions to war
  • One of my new favs is historical fiction - we read The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti this year 
  • I also love doing poetry - we do a "rhyme battle" w/ Hughes vs. Tupac which kids really enjoy! :)
  • Love "Dark Water Rising" with my 7th graders
  • My favourite lesson is the Poetry Diner. Lots of opportunity for differentiation
  • Ripley's Believe It or Not books, anything weird is great non-fiction especially for boys
  • I love writing and teaching creative nonfiction. There's just enough exaggeration to make it fun. 

Q3: How do you encourage your students to read a variety of books? What method has been most successful? 
  • I try for 5 texts/semester. Engage students with free choice to start. Gatsby next, LC novels, Into the Wild, & Raisin in the Sun 
  • I teach struggling students (ESL/IEP...) so they tend to be low readers I start with short stories to hook them!
  • I don't know about a variety, but the Million Word Challenge has been hugely successful for my 8th graders this year! 
  • Organize my classroom library by genre like this http://goo.gl/9mQDJR
  • Look at a college Am. Lit. anthologies, usually ordered chronologically and great for pairing with history 
  • Organizing a classroom library helps with student motivation http://www.2peasandadog.com/2013/08/classroom-library-makeover.html
  • I require students to read at least 1 book a month for independent reading. I am looking for more inspiring ideas 
  • We just read A Raisin in the Sun - students loved it! Pleasantly surprised :)
  • When I give my students an assignment to go with their reading they usually complete their reading and enjoy it
  • "Date With A Book" @ the start of the yr. and they pick 4 books from different genres to read through the year. 1 per quarter. 
  • http://bit.ly/1UUt7mQ  << If you need inspiring, try the MWC! Totally transformed my ELA/Reading approach! 
  • I just read "Flowers for Algernon" with students before spring break with students - short story version to help keep interest :) 
  • I encourage my students to talk to each other about books. They are more likely to read a suggestion from a friend
  • I agree! I love when a book is passed from student to student! 
  • Also have a menu they can choose from with a 2-3-word description of the book. Allows to choose by interest & peaks curiosity
  • I used Greek mythology @ the start of the year to hook students interest and not "overwhelm" them with a novel right off the bat 
  • We require 1 book per month as a minimum for our 8th graders. Promote title with book trailer Tuesday 
  • 600 pages of outside reading/quarter. Students allowed one "no brainer" book. Those stuck in one genre have to step outside once 

Q4: What genres and authors are the most popular among your students?
  • For free choice students like YA (John Green), Romance (N Sparks), Non-fiction (Lone Survivor) & dystopian lit
  • I'll recommend books to students personally that I think they'll enjoy
  • "Speak" a novel by Laurie Halse Anderson is always a favorite. I teach it every semester to my 9s
  • Dystopia & fantasy popular with students, i.e. Lunar Chronicles by @marissa_meyer & Red Queen series by @VictoriaAveyard
  • I loved Speak when I was in school, and it's one of my first to recommend! 
  • I taught 7th grade last year and students loved "The Outsiders!" 
  • My students love non-fiction, Realistic Fiction and Science Fiction! 
  • Dystopian literature seems to be fairly popular among my current students
  • Dystopian is my favorite to teach, along with "Harrison Bergeron." Students read Giver and then do lit circles 
  • Many students enjoy fantasy, historical fiction - "Wonder" has been popular as well 
  • City of Bones series and Gone series have barely stayed on my shelves this year! 
  • I would love to do a short scifi unit next year but unsure if it would appeal to the girls I have as much as boys
  • We read Lose Now, Pay Later and both genders liked the short story
  • Lots of dystopian...still. Lockdown series, Unwind Dystology, Twisted (LH Anderson), Rash (Hautman)

Q5: Share a great resource, website or tip for teaching different genres. 

  • I have a Pinterest board of reading suggestions for students 
  • @EpicReads does a great "Like, Try, Why" blog series to help students find books they'll like http://goo.gl/sx5PWr
  • Pair passages as much as you can! 
  • My reluctant male readers liked Boost and anything by Mike Lupica 
  • Commonlit.org  had great leveled short texts organized my theme that are perfect to pair with longer works
  • The Literature Teacher's Book of Lists. A must have for any ELA teacher! http://tinyurl.com/jekthga  
  • Choice boards have really helped me especially with creative writing - more options, more ways to connect to students
  • The book Notice & Note: Nonfiction has really helped me build in NF texts with deep engagement




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Reading a variety of text in the English Language Arts classroom is very important. Ideas from teachers on how to get students to read a variety of genres from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.


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