I used to have a group of students who would groan when I said it was time to read. They had no interest in books, and they didn’t want to participate. As a result, the time I spent motivating readers became more about me than them.
I was frustrated trying to figure out how I could get my students to love reading again. So many kids dread reading because they…
- Are slow readers
- Have a learning disability
- Are not challenged
- Have difficulty understanding what they read
- Aren’t engaged with the books they have to read
Motivating Readers: How to Get Students to Love Reading
There are so many benefits to reading, such as:
- Helps you understand yourself and others better
- Strengthens vocabulary
- Increases empathy for others
- Expands your knowledge about the world we live in
- Aids cognitive development by exercising our minds
- And so much more!
But how do educators get their students to love reading?
How I Set Out to Get My Students to Love Reading Again
A couple of years ago, I was working with a challenging group of students. These kids HATED reading and struggled to keep up with the general education curriculum’s style.
I decided to pull those students out during each block and teach them in the special education classroom because I felt it would be a more motivating setting to read. Sometimes just changing their environment works wonders!
I also added these three strategies.
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#1 Novel Fridays
I wanted something to gain their interest and deepen their love for reading. So I started what we called novel Fridays. Novel Fridays were a time that they could decompress from the week and listen to a story unfold.
The first novel I chose to read was James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. My paraprofessional and I worked together to create drawings of the main characters to put on our wall. When you concentrate on the characters in the story, you get pulled into the story and their world.
On the first day, the kids were super excited and happy to be able to listen to a story on a Friday afternoon for 15 minutes. On that day, Roald Dahl changed those students’ views on reading.
I had never seen such excitement and love for a book. After starting novel Fridays, they wanted more opportunities to read during the week.
#2 Reading Groups
We started reading groups and the kids were so excited to learn about story and text structure through a novel that only their group was reading. One of my groups first started reading Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. Each week they desired to read more, and it was all because of Roald Dahl.
The kids finished Number the Stars and wanted to read another historical fiction book. So we choose a book about 9/11. They were so surprised at how 9/11 had happened years ago.
After a month, I could already see the impact that the first book had on their lives. Yet, I couldn’t believe the relationship between their growing desire to read and that first novel Friday.
#3 Reading Quilt
Because the students were so excited about reading, we had to find a way to keep track of all the books we read. So we created a reading quilt. And this quilt contained pictures of all the books that we had read throughout the rest of the year.
There were group and individual opportunities for them to add their book to the quilt. In addition, the kids would have time during the week to work on their reading square.
Here are two resources for making reading quilts in the classroom:
Their reading scores that year improved, and they read so many more books!
I believe my first book choice by Roald Dahl was the most important step. It captured their hearts every Friday. They also enjoyed making the quilt and learning about different things.
More Ideas for Motivating Readers
Reading is hard for many children who have a learning disability. However, a good author like Roald Dahl and fun activities can capture your child’s attention and make them enjoy reading in a new way.
Try Out an Online Book Club
It can be difficult to get students engaged in reading, especially if they don’t enjoy it. However, being a part of an online book club can help to motivate them. In the SER book club, they can connect with other readers and discuss what they’re reading. This can help them to see reading in a new light and make it more enjoyable.
Here are more ideas for motivating readers:
- 5+ Ways to Get Help for a Child Struggling With Reading
- How to Instill the Love of Reading in Your Child
- How to Improve Reading Comprehension With Questions
- The Surprising Benefits of Reading 20 Minutes a Day
What activities have worked for your classroom to motivate readers? Let us know in the comments below. Get weekly tips and techniques from a fellow Special Educator and parent of a special needs child.
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