Inspiring Life-Long Readers

I love to read. I am a book nerd. I always have been. I was THAT kid who sat on the wall and read during recess. In high school, I had a job at the local library. In college, I shelved books for Barnes and Noble. Now, I have an Amazon Prime membership just so I can get books delivered within two days. When I finish a book, I get sad because I feel like I am saying goodbye to good friends. Yup, I'm a book nerd!

As a teacher, I strive to inspire life-long readers! I want to have a room full of book nerds. At the end of the year I will judge my effectiveness as a reading teacher, not on standardized test scores, but on the desire and excitement that my students show towards reading. I will chant this to myself repeatedly as I analyze the test data.

Here are some ways that I inspire kids to LOVE reading!

If you want your students to love reading, it is imperative that you have a fantastic library. You need to fill your class library with current books, popular authors and series and books from all genres. It is important that you understand what books the kids want to read. I know that my kids love the Wimpy Kid series. I don't LOVE it. But I love kids reading. So my library includes an ample supply of Wimpy Kid books. During the year I will get them interested in lots of better series. But until then, I will put up with their choices!

If you look in this picture of my library, you will see that the Wimpy Kid bucket is empty. That is because every one of those books is being read by a student at the time the photo was taken. If I were to take this picture today, the Humphrey book bucket would be empty!

Teachers are not rolling in the extra dough so we need to be creative about how we fill our classroom libraries. Here are some ways that I add new books to my library on a regular basis:

  • Write a Donors Choose project. See my post HERE for some tips and tricks.
  • Send home monthly Scholastic book orders. I attach a letter to my orders, email parents, include a blurb in my newsletter and text with the Remind app. I always have a handful of kids place an order. Then I can use my bonus points to get books for FREE for the classroom! 
  • Purchase books from a used bookstore such as Half Price Books. Once or twice a year, I head to the used book store to splurge on new-to-us books for the class library. These stores often have extra teacher discounts so don't be shy about asking.
  • Purchase books from retiring teachers. Every year, there is a teacher or two who is retiring or leaving the profession. I ask about their classroom library! I have had the opportunity buy (for a super reasonable price) a ton of books this way! 

I read aloud to my kids. I almost never skip a day. I read chapter books that challenge and entertain my third graders. I choose books that introduce them to series and authors that they might not be familiar with. The books serve as mini lessons at the start of my reading block. However, I am careful to not stop and ask too many questions of my kids. After all, when you are invested in a book, interruptions are a big bummer. And my goal is to inspire life-long readers. They need to love books to become life-long readers.

Some of my favorite read alouds for the third grade include:

  • How to Be Cool in the Third Grade
  • Third Grade Angels
  • Gooney Bird Greene
  • The World According to Humphrey
  • Rules
  • The Penderwicks
  • The One and Only Ivan
  • Fish in a Tree

Book auctions are such an easy way to get your kids excited about books. I do two different types of book auctions. After I finish a class read aloud, I hold an auction for the rights to read the next book in the series or another book by the same author. The students are always excited to be the first to read a similar book! They all get a ticket (purchased at Wal-Mart), and I draw one name. That person gets two weeks to read the next book. Then, I draw a new name. The excitement continues for weeks! After a few rounds, I quietly add the book to the class library.

I also do two book auctions per year where all students get a new book to keep! During the year, my students earn raffle tickets for behavior and turning in homework. They use these tickets in the book auction at the end of the semester. I get the books for this auction using Scholastic bonus points and through Donor's Choose projects. Sometimes I buy Scholastic $1 books for the auctions, but I never have to spend much. These auctions are so exciting! Kids are cheering, jumping and applauding. All that is excitement over books!!! You can read all about how I organize this auction by clicking HERE.

I love to use book clubs during my guided reading groups! Book clubs, or literature circles, inspire life-long readers because they allow the teacher to carefully choose interesting and on-level books for a small group of students. Book clubs are another way that I am introducing my students to series and authors that they may not be familiar with. Book clubs are not the one-size-fits-all text that basal readers are.

After we finish a book in book club, the entire group is excited to read another book in the series! Kids who weren't in that group are always asking me if they can read the book too! Kids that beg to read books in my classroom will continue reading long after they leave my classroom. I use my Book Club Graphic Organizers for Fiction and Nonfiction to practice all of our reading standards during book clubs.

It is your turn! How do you inspire life-long readers? What do you want to change or add next year so that you have a classroom that is book centered?

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