We know your priority is encouraging your readers to pick up and discover new books, and to develop a passion for reading. How do you go about doing that? According to Felix Brandon, co-founder of Zoobean’s Beanstack, a powerful tool that helps educators and librarians create, manage, and measure reading challenges, it’s about creating a culture of reading. Developing an environment in which reading is the norm for students, educators, and family members.
As Brandon explains, creating reading challenges is a powerful and proactive approach to encouraging students to read more. In our recent webcast, Brandon spoke with JLG’s Sara Cohen about the successes of reading challenges hosted by various school districts. Challenges are often quite effective because they help create concrete goals for students in terms of the number of books they plan to read in a given time period. They also provides a little friendly competition. And the most successful challenges ensure that teachers, librarians, and family members are participating as well as students. This creates a culture at the school in which reading is a regular part of the daily routine for the majority of people with whom the students interact.
When working to help young readers develop a long-lasting love of books, it is important to support their choices in terms of genre and subject matter. There is sometimes a tendency to stock a library primarily with titles that may be considered “literary” or educational. But providing genre fiction, graphic novels, books about sports and music, and the like will make it easier for your students to find titles that genuinely resonate with them. If a student is particularly interested in a given topic, making not of that and suggesting related titles is often a helpful practice.
Keep everyone in the loop
As mentioned earlier, creating a culture of reading requires involving educators and family members, as well as students. If you’re hosting a reading challenge, for example, keep the adults interested as it progresses by checking in with them regularly. Send emails updating participants about successes and notable benchmarks. Congratulate both adults and students on social media when they finish a book. And be sure to continue these practices after the challenge ends. Create a Facebook group and invite members of the school community. Send out a regular newsletter. Basically, you want to keep everyone thinking about reading on a day-to-day basis.
Collaborate with teachers
To create a culture of reading, you want to demonstrate to students that books and literacy play an important role in many areas of their academic and daily lives. Books are not just the domain of Language Arts classes and teacher read-alouds. Speak with teachers about their lesson plans and work together to find ways to make relevant library books available. What other special events are happening at the school? Is the band preparing for a concert? Is there an athletic team that’s in the finals? Are students rehearsing for a play? Perhaps there are ways you could create special displays or library events relevant to those activities.
Creating a support system in which students have a network of adults encouraging them to read is an important aspect of helping young readers develop a love of books. And helping them view reading on a regular basis as the norm will make it more likely that they will continue to enjoy discovering new books as they grow older.
So now it's your turn! We love hearing about what your school is doing, or what ideas you're excited to try out. Reply in the comments here, or tag us in your social media accounts with #ShowUsYourJLG. We always enjoy connecting with you on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It sincerely makes our day to see your emails, tags, and posts!