All Info About Teen Reading

A companion blog to All Info About Teen Reading

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Five Ways Teachers Can Encourage Teen Reading

Are you tired of your students' seeming apathy towards reading? Here are five ways you, as a teacher, can encourage teens to reads:
  • Make time for reading in your classroom
    One of the most popular ways to do this is through sustained silent reading (ssr) time. Some districts make a whole-school effort out of this, devoting one homeroom period a week to the practice or a similar schedule. The idea is that for a set period of time, anywhere from 10-30 minutes, students will do nothing but read for pleasure. Even if you restrict reading time to class assignments, providing time in class for reading will allow students to ask questions if they're having trouble understanding and get them off to a good start on their homework.
  • Make space for reading in your classroom
    While most teens' needs for books to read can be fulfilled by the library, having a bookshelf in your classroom sends a powerful message to students about the importance you place on books and reading. Visit a few used bookstores or thrift shops to build a small collection if you haven't already gathered books for students to use. I once had a teacher who bought used books from his students for a quarter each at the beginning of each school year to build up his class library. If your classroom space allows it, consider creating a reading space for free reading time or for students to use before class. Some of the most inviting classrooms I've ever visited included a reading corner with beanbags or rocking chairs, a bit of carpeting in tiled rooms, and soft lighting.
  • Model an interest in reading
    Find ways to show that you value reading. Keep the book you're currently reading on your desk. When you give students time to read in class, model appropriate behavior by reading a book of your own. Talk about reading as a pleasurable activity, either as part of a larger class discussion or in your conversations with teens. Talk to your students about your favorite books the way you would share a new book with a friend.
  • Give students some choice in their reading
    Are there any places in your curriculum where you can give students choice in their reading? Perhaps there are two short stories in the textbook that illustrate point of view and you can let students choose whether to read a romance or a science fiction story. Or maybe you can create a more general assignment that asks students to read a biography from the period you're studying in history. Students will be more engaged with their reading if they can select the books they read.
  • Ask questions about reading
    "But I do this all the time! Isn't that what teachers do?" is what you're probably thinking in response to this suggestion. There are two sides to this point. When I say, "Ask questions about reading," I'm first thinking that in order to encourage free reading among teenagers, you should always be on the lookout for an opportunity to ask your students about the books they're reading for fun. Show them that you're interested in all books, not just the ones you assign. The second facet of asking questions about reading is to ask students what they think about the readings you do assign. Whether in a formal survey or through more casual conversations before or after class, try to get a feel for what most captures their interest in assigned readings and what gives them difficulties. Try to capitalize on the interest and create assignments to work through the difficulties in future lesson plans.
After you've encouraged your students to read, don't ruin it with boring assignments. Check out Creative Book Report Ideas for three great ideas to keep students engaged with their reading.

Do you have your own tip for encouraging your students to read? Share it in the comments!

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