How do you cultivate a love of reading amongst your students?
In today’s world, where screens dominate our daily lives, it can be increasingly challenging to cultivate a love of reading in middle school students. However, the importance of fostering a love of reading cannot be overstated. Reading is not just an essential academic skill; it’s a gateway to imagination, empathy, and personal growth.
Nurturing a love of reading during these formative years can have a profound impact on students’ academic success, emotional intelligence, and overall well-being. Marissa from Creative Classroom Core and Kristy from 2 Peas and a Dog have teamed up to share our top 10 ways to cultivate a love of reading in your middle school students.
In this blog post, we will explore 10 effective strategies to ignite the passion for books in your classroom. These tried-and-true methods will help you create an environment where reading is not just a chore but a delightful adventure.
10 Ways to Cultivate a Love of Reading
Ditch The Canon (Kristy)
Now, I do not want to throw out all old and established books, but it is time to retire some of the canon that is no longer serving our students. We need a mix of old and new literature to show students that reading can be relevant to their daily lives.
Take a look at your course syllabus or long range plans; what books, short stories and poems are you teaching this year? Is there room to make a change? Can you swap out some titles? Trying out new books and authors will help to keep your students interested.
Share Your Joy (Marissa)
To cultivate a genuine passion for reading among our students, it is super important that we demonstrate what a true love of reading entails. Our students need to know that we love books!
This requires us to set an example by engaging in reading-related activities ourselves.
While this may seem self-evident, students must witness our enthusiasm for books, our discussions about literature, our excitement for new titles, and our willingness to share the world of books with them.
Below are some ways we can effectively convey our love for reading to our students.
- Establish a “Teacher Favorites” section within your classroom library. By showcasing books you personally enjoy, students are more likely to be drawn to these titles.
- Keep your students informed about your current reading choices. Share your thoughts about books you’re currently exploring, and don’t hesitate to talk about the ones you cherished when you were their age. Sharing your reading experiences openly and frequently is key.
- Read alongside your students during their independent reading time. Demonstrating your commitment to reading by participating in their reading sessions helps underscore the value of this activity. This is especially essential because many of our students lack role models who exemplify the importance of reading in their lives.
Showcase a Variety of Formats (Kristy)
When students think of reading, they most likely think about paperback or hardcover novels. eBooks and audiobooks are probably not something they might consider as reading.
It is important that students realize that books come in a variety of formats – eBooks, paperback, hardcover, audiobooks, graphic novels, cookbooks, etc. Reading is not just about a physical book – it is about engaging with a story or a non-fiction text.
Check out this blog post, Engaging Alternative Reading Formats, to learn more about this topic.
Make Time For Reading (Marissa)
As educators, we are well aware of the direct link between the amount of time children dedicate to reading and their reading proficiency. In simple terms, the more children read, the better at it they become.
Numerous studies consistently underscore the pivotal role that reading volume plays in enhancing comprehension, vocabulary, general knowledge, and cognitive development.
Despite this well-established knowledge, many teachers encounter challenges when attempting to incorporate independent reading into their classrooms. With the pressure of meeting educational standards and preparing students for assessments, independent reading often takes a backseat, which is truly unfortunate.
Reading is so incredibly important. It is crucial that we prioritize and allocate time for independent reading. If we genuinely value this practice, we must proactively seek ways to integrate it into our teaching.
Looking for some ways to help keep students accountable with independent reading? Check out this blog post with tips and tricks for independent reading success, or download some FREE Graphic Organizers for Independent Reading!
Use Picture Books (Kristy)
If you want to cultivate a love of reading, remember that middle school students can benefit from using picture books in their classrooms. If you have read any of my holiday blog posts, I try to provide suggestions for picture books you can use with your students.
Despite the perception that they are primarily for elementary students, picture books enhance learning in middle school. Their engaging visuals and format cater to various learning styles, foster critical thinking, and help students grasp complex topics.
Picture books also introduce new vocabulary, promote cultural awareness, and serve as a bridge to more advanced literature. They can initiate discussions on important themes and encourage empathy.
Picture books are an effective tool for educators to enhance their students’ reading development.
Give Book Talks (Marissa)
Promoting a love of reading can be enhanced by sharing our favourite books with students.
There are several methods to integrate this into your classroom:
- Encourage students to share their favourite books. Once a student completes a book, provide them with the chance to present it to the class. This helps to foster a culture of book sharing and excitement.
- Extend invitations to fellow teachers, administrators, parents, and community members to share the books they are currently reading with your learners. This not only exposes students to a variety of reading materials but also demonstrates the value placed on reading throughout the school community.
Making time for book talks helps foster that love of reading we try so hard to bring to our students.
Don’t Skip Non-Fiction (Kristy)
Many students love non-fiction articles and books. Not everyone loves reading fiction, and that’s okay. In addition to a variety of book types, provide a variety of reading materials in your ELA program. Do not solely focus on fiction. Having students read about high-interest topics such as D.B. Cooper or Alcatraz can help them connect to the material.
Look through your lessons; where can you integrate some non-fiction? I love launching a new unit with a non-fiction article to spark interest and engage students in the topic before reading the novel.
Have students read this free non-fiction article about Rubik’s Cubes as a way to incorporate more non-fiction into your ELA program.
Build A High-Interest Classroom Library (Marissa)
Encouraging a love for reading through the creation of a classroom library filled with high-interest books is crucial. Such a library provides students with a variety of engaging reading materials tailored to their preferences, motivating them to read for pleasure.
It offers a range of age-appropriate titles that spark their curiosity and imagination, fostering a genuine interest in literature. This accessible and diverse collection of books reinforces the idea that reading is not just a school task but a lifelong source of enjoyment and learning.
Looking for more info on classroom libraries? Check out this blog post with tips and tricks for building your own classroom library, or download a FREE Classroom Library Book Guide!
Make Room For Choice Reading (Kristy)
To cultivate a love of reading, it is important that students are not only reading assigned texts in English class. Students need to be given time to find choice reading material that engages them.
In my ELA program, I devote the first 10 minutes of every class to independent reading. Students know the routine is that they come in and read their choice novel silently at their desks. During these 10 minutes, I circulate around the room, holding reading conferences or picking out personalized book recommendations for students from my classroom library.
I hold students accountable for their independent reading through regular reading conferences and reading journal entries. I also use other reading log alternatives that students complete to help spark an interest in reading amongst their peers.
Utilize Your School Librarian (Marissa)
Collaborating with the school librarian is a strategic move for teachers in nurturing a passion for reading among their students. Librarians are well-versed in the latest books and student interests, making them valuable allies in selecting materials that resonate with young readers.
Their expertise in literature allows them to recommend books that cater to a wide range of preferences, ensuring students are engaged with their reading choices. Librarians also have access to a wealth of resources, including databases, reading programs, and technology, which can enrich the reading experience.
By partnering with the school librarian, teachers can tap into this wealth of knowledge and resources to create a dynamic and vibrant reading environment that captivates students and instills a lifelong love of reading. Check out this blog post, 12 Ways a School Librarian Can Help Teachers, for more information on this topic.
These strategies can help you cultivate a love of reading in your students that can last them well beyond their middle school years and into adulthood.
About The Authors
Marissa has taught elementary and middle school ELA and History for 20 years. She now continues her love of teaching and learning outside the classroom, designing high-interest resources to save teachers valuable planning time. Marissa can be found sharing teaching tips on the Creative Classroom Core blog and sharing her resources on Teachers Pay Teachers and Etsy.
Kristy has taught ELA and other subjects to middle school students for over 16 years in the Greater Toronto Area of Ontario, Canada. She is guilty of always having a book in her hand – even at the dinner table! She shares teaching content on her website, 2 Peas and a Dog, and sells middle school education resources on Teachers Pay Teachers or Shopify.