In this episode, I talked about four critical steps for building an outside reading program.
1. Get books! Get them into your classroom! Check out this list of books that have been very popular with my students if you need inspiration.
2. Do book talks to generate student interest.
3. Make time for reading in class, and CHECK IN with bored-looking, fidgety students to help them switch to another book.
4. Come up with a basic assignment that will allow you to check that students have read the assigned pages by the end of the term or year.
Then we got into the fun twists, the six ways you can amp up engagement with your program.
1. Have a competition. Individual or class-to-class, prizes to be determined by you. I once had students read over 10,000 pages in a month with no grade whatsoever on the line. All to win a picnic. (But really, I think they just fell in love with the awesome books I helped them choose).
2. Put on a challenge. Maybe you offer a prize to students who can read a whole book in one weekend, or you specifically challenge students to read a certain book over a break. Whatever it is, make the prize something fun with lots of honor and glory.
3. Put on an outside reading festival. Let your students create a project surrounding their favorite book they’ve read in the program and then put on an event to showcase those projects. Have food and music. Invite younger students to get them excited about reading and put your students in the role of the experts.
4. Make fun reading posters using this motivational poster tool from Big Huge Labs.
5. Invite guests to class to give short book talks about their favorite books. Snap photos of them with their books to turn into posters.
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