Making Silent Reading (DEAR) Meaningful

Silent reading is not a time filler activity, it is an important part of any middle school English Language Arts classrooms. Make the most out of your student's independent reading time by trying out these four tips from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.

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? Try this independent reading assignment with your students if you are looking for a way to structure your independent reading program. 

I have created a year long Independent Reading Assignment that works for my students. Students set reading goals for themselves with/without teacher assistance and with towards that goal for the month. 

This independent reading assignment is a collection of 6 Independent Reading Tracking Forms and 1 Reading Journal Assignment. These reading tracking forms help students stay organized and purposeful during reading workshop or independent reading time. Easy to use assessment forms are included to ensure student accountability and less teacher marking stress. 

Included Assignments:
-Reading Journal Assignment 
-Reading Journal Assessment Rubric

Included Forms:
-Independent Reading Genre Checklist *multiple formats
-Book Log
-Must Read Books Log
-Monthly reading goals and reflect sheets *multiple formats
-Reading Conferences Tracking Sheet 
-Reading Conferences Questions for Fiction and Non-Fiction books

-Reading Check In Sheet


Silent reading is not a time filler activity, it is an important part of any middle school English Language Arts classrooms. Make the most out of your student's independent reading time by trying out these four tips from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.


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  • Stacy
    March 20, 2013 at 2:11 am

    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 @

  • Phoenixgirl
    September 8, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    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!

  • Kristy @ 2peasandadog
    September 8, 2013 at 9:49 pm

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

  • Erica Chao
    May 17, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    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!

  • Mrs. West
    July 26, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    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.

  • Marcy Howe
    October 10, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    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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