Every teacher has heard it before. The chorus of groans and cries that accompany a book that students don’t want to read. Whether you teach elementary school, middle, or high school, every class seems to have one student that simply hates to read. “You can’t make me!” they stubbornly declare while trying their hardest to avoid the task of opening a book. While it is true that teachers cannot force children to read, they can make reading an enticing prospect and help convince students to take a crack at a book. How? Make reading fun by showing students how to find the right books for them.
How to Pick a Book
Most students have very little training or background in how to self-select books for reading. Years of having books assigned, testing materials, and dry textbooks may have turned reading from a fun activity to a task as onerous as doing household chores. Many students have little or no exposure to what they should look for to find a book, so they might like and instead grab the first book they see – even if it is one they have no interest in. Start by teaching students how to preview a book: looking at the cover, reading the excerpt, and reading the front page or two. Teach students about genres and how to find books in a genre they might like. Identification of the book’s author can also be important as students might like one book by the author and find a treasure trove in the series of a prolific writer.
Expose Students to Numerous Options
Use your school or town library to expose students to numerous books and let them explore. Arrange a scavenger hunt day where students can browse numerous books, jot down potential reading options, and look at pre-selected best sellers and popular reading choices for their age group. Students sometimes just need exposure to more books than a single classroom or teacher can offer to find the right one. Setting up your own classroom library of popular selections can also be useful. Students who find a book they like will often share it with friends, creating a popular reading selection for your students.
Being able to recommend books to students is a matter of matching a student’s interest with the right reading materials. Have a sports enthusiast? She isn’t going to be as excited about reading teen-drama as your reality-show-addict in the third row. A reluctant reader, meanwhile, might want to start with something shorter and action-packed or a non-fiction book to build confidence. While online book reviews can help you select books that might work for students, reading selections appropriate for your age group is a sure fire way to match books and kids. Best of all, this gives you a book talk point with your students and models good reading habits. If you want to be able to pitch the right book to the right kid, you need to know the books yourself.