The month of February surrounds us with reminders of love. Red roses, heart-shaped cards for our loved ones, and sweet candy heart conversations. Hopefully we think about love all of the time. Love is what drives us and gets us through difficult times. Love surrounds us when we celebrate triumphs and joy in our lives. Love connects us and warms our hearts. In this post, we celebrate the love of reading and ways to cultivate a love of reading in the classroom to inspire readers of all ages.
How can we fall in love if we never meet? Access to the just right book can make all of the difference. We must fill our classroom libraries with books featuring diverse topics, genres, characters, and lived experiences. It’s also helpful to organize the books in some type of systematic way to help readers find and select a potential mate. Bins of books organized around favorite topics and authors rather than levels removes any shame associated with reading levels and matches what real readers do when shopping for books. Showcase favorite books through book talks and book shares and by propping them on display.
Speed dating with books (or book tastings for younger students) is a fun way to expose children to different books in a short amount of time. Have children sit down at a table featuring a selection of books. Give them approximately one minute to browse the front and back cover, read the inside jacket, and skim and scan the text and illustrations. Encourage them to consider which book they’d like to take on a second date. During the second date, they sit down and begin reading the text, getting to know it better.
Finding ‘just right books’ is more than matching readers with a level. Compatibility is more than a score or a percentile ranking. Consider your true love. What attracted you? What kept you engaged? Learning what you find appealing can build a lifetime relationship with reading.
It’s ok to abandon books. If you begin reading a book and you are just “not feeling it” be honest, consider and reflect about why this is not working. That will help you recognize what you don’t like and will help you find a better mate in the future.
Books can evoke feelings, changes in our thinking and behavior, and spark us to take action in some way. When you fall in love at first sight, take a moment to reflect on why. Come to know yourself as a reader and learn to manage your selections for future reads.
Katie tends to read fiction, historical fiction, memoir and nonfiction. Other than when Harry Potter and the Hunger Games series was popular, rarely did she read fantasy or dystopian novels. As she shares about the books she loves reading, she realized she rarely recommended fantasy or science fiction books. This is most likely because she personally doesn’t read those genres as often. We must be cautious when selecting books for our class libraries that we don’t fall into the trap of only including books that we love. We must also guard against “showing favoritism” for certain genres as we book talk new titles and promote new options for our students. Consider your students’ interests and build your classroom libraries so that a wide variety of genres are represented. Consider conducting an inventory of your library. How many books do you have that fall under different genres? Graphic novels, biography, fantasy, memoir, poetry, science fiction, etc.
Falling in love with an author or illustrator or topic is one of the joys of being a reader. Help your students find their match with a spotlight on an author or an author study. Assembling a text set to explore topics of interest is an effective way to introduce a variety of authors, text formats, and genres connected to a topic of interest.
As a young reader Lester loved the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. The beloved Boxcar Children series held an element of mystery that drew him in. He later read every Agatha Christie novel he could find in either the school library or the public library. Not every reader will be wooed by a good mystery, but for those who are lead them to series such as, Encyclopedia Brown, Nate The Great, and The Magic Treehouse.
Sometimes we meet characters in books that stay with us. We can’t shake them. Lily from Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse. India Opal from Because of Winn-Dixie. Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird. Henry, Jesse, Violet, and Benny from The Boxcar Children. Salva Dut from A Long Walk to Water. Ivan from The One and Only Ivan. Auggie from Wonder. Falling for a character gives us various ways for viewing challenges and obstacles in life.
Nonfiction offers readers the opportunity to delve into a topic and weigh information in a search for truth. As students become more facile as critical thinkers and readers they learn to question the texts they read and to search out various perspectives on an issue. As you collect titles for your classroom library consider offering a range of perspectives on the topics in your curriculum.
Reading aloud is an essential part of our reading instruction. As you plan for read aloud experiences do so with intention. Make your selections with the same care your give to choosing manipulative for a math lesson and the perfect Valentine’s card for a loved one. Think through the purpose of each read aloud experience and match the selection to the intention.
Communication is critical in relationships. While reading may seem like an isolated experience at least during the reading process, reading should be a social act. When we talk about what we are reading with others, we deepen our understanding, develop new perspectives, and form connections.
Good books leave us wanting more. They move us. We laugh, we cry, we turn pages in suspense. We are changed by our time with them. Good books spark the love for reading and inspires us as lifelong readers.
Students from Anna Doyle’s class (@DoylesDivers) in Greenville, SC challenge us to share the love of reading using the hashtag #ForTheLoveOfReading.
Some of Our Favorite Professional Resources to Cultivate the Love of Reading:
Book Love by Penny Kittle
The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller
The Ultimate Read Aloud Resource by Lester Laminack
Conversations by Regie Routman
Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
No More Reading for Junk: Best Practices for Motivating Readers by Barbara A. Marinak and Linda Gambrell
Pernille Ripp’s Blog https://pernillesripp.com/
Nerdy Book Club Blog https://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/