A little bit of reading goes a long way. By reading around 15 minutes per day between grades 1 and 12, a student will have read more than 5 million words by the time they graduate high school. Sadly, more than half of students read less than 15 minutes per day. They’ll encounter only 1.5 million words during the course of their schooling—the equivalent of just two novels per year. How can we help all students, especially our most reluctant readers, to increase their daily reading practice?
So let’s boost our motivation and discover the joy of reading by these simple 15 daily reading practices.
1. Read aloud.
When you read aloud, your students can give their hardworking brains a rest. Instead of concentrating all of their energy on decoding the words on the page, they can pay attention to the more pleasurable parts of reading: engaging characters, exciting plots, witty dialogues, interesting new facts, big discoveries, and dramatic moments.
2. Increase text variety.
The more types of books and articles that students are exposed to—and the more diverse those titles are—the more likely students are to discover a new favourite author or genre that keeps them motivated even through the toughest decoding challenges.
3. Make time for reading.
Highly successful companies like Google, Apple, and Yahoo have a “genius hour” where employees can work on any project they want; create your own “genius time” where students can read any book or article they want. Reserve at least 15 minutes each day for reading. Have children read independently or in pairs as their skill level allows.
4. Dispel the “good reader” myth.
Some students—especially those that struggle to read—may assume that there are two kinds of readers: those who read well and those who do not. These students do not realise that everyone needs to practice reading. They may even assume that, because they struggle with reading now, they will always struggle. Explain that no one is born with a reading brain and everyone has to practice reading in order to become a strong reader.
5. Believe every child will
School and district leaders, classroom teachers, and other educators—both real and fictional—are forever inspiring others. Review your own assumptions about your students, their current reading abilities, and their potential for future success.
6. Provide the just-right level of challenge.
If we are not pushed or stretched, we do not grow. If we are pushed at an ideal level—just beyond our reach—we grow optimally. This “just-right” level of challenge is the zone of proximal development (ZPD), sometimes called a student’s “instructional level” or “independent reading level” when it comes to reading. Encourage students to read materials that fall within their ZPD
7. Set personalised goals.
Success may look different for every student. Grade-level goals may not be appropriate for a student who is currently reading two or three grade levels lower—or a student who is already mastering above-grade-level materials. Personalised goals give students realistic, achievable targets to aim for as they practice, which in turn increases motivation.
8. Give continual feedback.
Meaningful positive feedback is one of the crucial factors in maintaining motivation. As you monitor students’ reading progress, be sure to provide encouragement with positive, actionable feedback. When students know they’re getting closer to their goals they will be continually motivated to succeed.
9. Make it fun.
Your students may be hard at work with their reading practice—but don’t let them forget that reading is fun, too! Sprinkle lessons with occasional treats like reading joke books, watching movies based on books, playing relay team games, sharing favourite books and authors during show-and-tell, or drawing, painting, or sculpting popular characters or scenes
10. Connect reading with college and career goals.
There are many different types of student effort. One type, however—commitment—has a stronger relationship with achievement than the others. This describes a student’s commitment to their education: taking an interest in their schoolwork, trying to stay on task in class, working hard to achieve good grades, and understanding the role of education in post-school success
We hope these tips help you to inspire more student reading in your school. If you haven’t already, explore the myON digital reading platform from Renaissance, which provides students with 24/7 access to a wide variety of engaging fiction and nonfiction titles.