Making reading fun is an important part of lesson planning. By its very nature, reading is a part of every literature classroom, but not all students inherently love to read. Making reading fun, though, is one of the best ways to encourage reading engagement in your students. Today, let’s talk about some ideas on how to increase the “fun factor” of your reading materials.
Not everyone loves science fiction, but some do. Not everyone loves a good period drama, but some do. Poetry is loved by some and hated by others. Some students will engage really well with short stories and will happily read an entire collection of them while others would prefer you hand them a single novel. One of the best things you can do to address this is include a wide variety of types of materials in your curriculum. If you are struggling to decide which to use (or are unfamiliar with a particular genre or category), talk to fellow teachers or even your students and see what they suggest. And don’t forget variety also applies to things like author, message, and origin. Blake, Frost, and Shakespeare have a place in your poetry unit, but so do poets that are still alive or those who hail from non-Eurocentric backgrounds.
Choice, particularly of the texts they will be reading, can make a huge difference in making reading fun. Here are a couple of ideas for including it:
- Choice of Book: “For your summer reading project, you can choose one of these three (very different) books.”
- Lit Circles: “For this section, you can pick which short story your group wants to read. Here are five choices…”
- Today’s Activity: “Open your poetry packet and look at the poems on pages three and seven. Today we will vote. Which would you rather study today?” (You may or may not go back and do the second poem at a later date.)
Other Ways of Reading
Reading can be difficult and off-putting to struggling readers. It is not that they don’t enjoy the story, but the physical act of reading gets in their way. And even for the advanced reader, reading can be a lot of work, especially if it is something that is not their preferred topic or genre. Think about if there are other ways that students can access material. Here are some suggestions:
- Read aloud to your students. Just because they are not elementary students anymore does not mean that they are too old to be read to. Read the occasional chapter, poem, or short story aloud or have the class (particularly volunteers) take turns reading.
- Audio Books: This is kind of like you reading to them but done by a professional that they can take home with them. And there are so many available. Look into if the book you are reading is available in audio format. And don’t forget places like YouTube and the Internet. Many short stories and even more poems are available for students to listen to from these sources.
- Groups: For many students, just the act of being able to work with their friends adds a level of fun that wouldn’t be there otherwise. Let the students pick groups and give class time for them to read together. This can be even more fun if you let them sit on the floor or in corners or wherever else they find comfortable.
Give Your Students a Heads Up
Even the best books sometimes have dry sections. By acknowledging this and letting students know what to expect, you can give them a light at the end of the tunnel so to speak. 1984 is one of the most powerful books I have ever read, but there are sections in there that might be dull for students. By letting students know these sections are coming and that the entire book will not be that way, you help students set aside and get past something they might otherwise get bogged down in.
Students as Teachers
Think about how you are going to teach what the students are reading. When students have ownership of the material, it adds a level of investment and care that is not otherwise there. One of the best ways to create ownership is by making the students the teachers. Might students each (or in groups) teach a poem? Might they lead a discussion on a given chapter? Might they create the activity for a given short story? Think about including these or other ways you might make your students teachers.
There are lots of ways to work on making reading fun. These are just a few. What are other ways that you have used yourself or seen others use that accomplish this goal?
Check Out These Engaging Resources To Make Reading Fun
- Reading Resources For Creating Lifelong Readers, Not Just Students Who Read
- Novel Study Activities For Any Novel
- “Benefits of Reading” Non-Fiction Article
Are you interested in learning more about reading engagement and how to make reading fun in the middle school classroom? I have created an online course all about this topic. Teachers can learn about this important topic right from the comfort of their couch. Click here to learn more.