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Encouraging reading can be hard. However, it is absolutely vital that kiddos not only read but enjoy it. The benefits of reading in elementary school are numerous and vital. Not to mention, reading is the most enjoyable thing in the world, and we as special education teachers should want to share that with our students.
When I used to tutor, parents would ask me all the time how to get their kid’s test scores up. My answer was always the same. Kids who read for pleasure tend to do better in school.
But beyond just grades, the benefits of reading are innumerable.
Just a few things reading gives to you include
- Reduced Stressed
- Better Sleep
- Larger vocabulary
- Better Brain Connections
- Improved background knowledge
There are even some theories that children who grew up reading Harry Potter (JKR politics aside) are more empathetic.
So while you’re teaching reading, make sure your kiddos are not just thinking of it as something to check off to get good grades, but as something fun!
Do you want freebies?
If you are a special education teacher or a one-on-one service provider, make sure to join my email list! You get access to my free resource library, which includes a reading skills checklist! It can help you observe your students as they read and note what they do well and what they don’t! That way, you can choose to target specific areas!
A Few Ideas for Encouraging Reading
While encouraging reading can be hard, there are many things you can do with your kiddos that will get them excited about reading.
Make it a passion you share
Before you can encourage others to read, you have to be excited about reading yourself!
Children are very intuitive people. If you hate to read and are just pushing it on them because you feel like you have to, they’ll sense that.
If you don’t like reading, ask yourself why. Try new books or just set aside ten minutes at the end of every day to read. Throw in new books, and things that look interesting to you.
Read what you want to read, not what you think you should read. Don’t let others influence your choices. Just go for it!
If you’re like me and you already love reading, then make it clear to the kids. Share your enthusiasm with them.
They’ll see that you love it and get curious as to why.
Make Reading a Treat
One great way teachers are encouraging reading is by making it a treat! There are lots of times you can use reading as something special kids get to do.
You can try instituting D.E.A.R (Drop Everything and Read) in your classroom or the whole school if your admin is into it.
It’s where you set a time each day, and everyone in the room stops whatever they’re doing and reads for twenty minutes.
I also always give reading as the first option on my student choice list and make sure my library is set up to look cozy and appealing.
Then there’s my favorite holiday tradition.
Did you know that in Iceland, there’s a tradition called Jolabokaflod, where on Christmas Eve, everyone gets a book as a present and goes to curl up and read for the whole night?
So the last day before winter break, I like to get little books for everyone (small ones that come in a set), and we spend the day drinking cocoa and reading.
Make it Interactive
Reading doesn’t just have to be reading a book. One thing my kids all love to do is do Choose Your Own Adventure Novels together as a class.
For those who don’t know, choosing your own adventure is when a book is written in the second person present tense, and you choose what “you” (the main character) should do.
These are great and are a wonderful way to learn about how your kiddos think. Plus, if you do it as a class, everyone gets to take a turn reading, and the debates about what to do that ensue are a riot.
I happen to sell a Google Slide Show Interactive book that you can put up on your smart board for an easy way to let the class see the words and choices.
It’s a wonderful way to spend an hour with your kids!
To purchase, click here!
What if they still hate it?
If you students still seem to hate reading, no matter what you do, then there’s probably only one real explanation.
They’re not good at it yet.
I used to hate reading, especially when I was in 2nd grade and still reading at a Kindergarten level. But once I got the interventions I needed and my skills improved, I started to love it.
Make sure kids are reading instructional books they enjoy and are getting the interventions they need to become better readers!
For more ideas on improving instructions and what goes into reading skills exactly, check out this post on the Scarborough Reading Rope!
Reading is an important but complicated skill set for kids to learn. A lot goes into it, and it takes a ton of work to get good at it.
It’s completely normal for kids not to like it at first.
But we as teachers have to be encouraging reading to our students because of all the benefits it will give not only to their grades but to them as human beings.
Make sure to follow me on Instagram to see ways I’m encouraging reading in my classroom, and send me a DM to let me know what you’re up to!
I always love hearing success stories or helping people with problems.