5 ways to encourage reading for pleasure in your classroom
Make time for reading
This is an important one. While reading before your pupils go home is relatively common, and a great way to finish the day, the fact is that this time is often ‘squished’ out due to unexpected events, handing out letters, a bee in the classroom or someone’s pencil case exploding, etc. I have silent reading as the expectation during the morning and afternoon registers, then I give the children some reading time and finally read a chapter from our class reader before starting the main lesson. It may only be 5-15 minutes once or twice a day, but it does add up in the long run.
Talk about what you’re reading and enjoying
I have a display i my classroom where I stick up pictures of all the books we have read together as a class over the year. There is also a section on that board where I post 4 recommended reads and what I’m currently reading; this never fails to catch children’s interest. When running the Book Fair in school, we have found that having personalised recommendations from teachers or the Year 6 librarians means that a title will sell better.
Talk about the ‘Rights of the Reader’
You won’t like every book you read and I believe that, while my main purpose on this blog is to shout about books I love, it is also okay to acknowledge that not every book will be for you, or perhaps not for you at that particular point in your life. Have you ever read a book and loved it, then been disappointed when reading it later? Or, alternatively, picked up a book and been unable to get into it, then devoured it on another occasion? I always talk to my class about their rights as a reader and how they should keep trying new books because they might just find one they love – hopefully this will help them discover their own tastes and preferences as readers, as well as preventing them giving up on reading for pleasure because they’ve had several lacklustre experiences with books.
Stock up your book corner and rotate the stock often
This doesn’t have to break the bank. While others may have qualms about this, I personally love my local secondhand bookshops and charity shops as I can pick up fantastic titles for a fraction of the full price, meaning I then don’t mind so much if they disappear and are never returned or get damaged through being read over and over. I also regularly pick up books that have been withdrawn from our local library due to becoming worn, but they are still in perfectly readable condition. I appealed to parents for copies of magazines such as National Geographic Kids and The Week Junior, which are popular choices for some less confident readers. It’s also important to have a selection of fiction and non-fiction, as well as books in different formats. One of my favourite tricks is to read the first book in a series, such as The Worst Witch, then buy the rest for the book corner – this always ensures readers!
Talk about the importance of reading with enthusiasm
Enthusiasm goes a long way towards encouraging reading for pleasure, especially when you encourage children to share their favourite books, have ‘reading buddies’ (either in class or with another year group). Constantly saying that reading is important will not work in isolation, but consistently giving this message, as well as explicitly talking about the benefits of reading, can really help to build that culture of reading in your classroom and your school.
I hope that some of these tips are useful for you as a teacher or parent hoping to promote reading for pleasure at home or in the classroom. Reading, even for just a few minutes every day, has multiple benefits, so anything you can do to squeeze more in will be beneficial!
See some more tips for creating a reading culture in your school from Wise Words.
While you’re here, why not check out my posts about top read alouds for Year 3, Books for teaching mathematical concepts, ways to get to know a new class, Roald-Dahl-inspired Maths resources or find out how I manage to read so many books?
Thanks for reading!