This is a quote (from somewhere.) I’m sorry to say I can’t remember where I read it. But it’s so significant that I want to make it my email signature, or my facebook cover, or my license plate. (So it's pretty important.)
How do we turn nonreaders into readers? This is one of the most powerful ways. By setting a model example yourself. This goes for teachers and parents.
It’s not really fair to try to get kids to read or love to read if you don’t actually read or love to read yourself. They aren’t buying it.
I have to admit, even as much as I love to read I don't do it enough. I don't do it as much as I expect my students to. (I guess that's not true. I read all day long. And reading is still reading. But I read nonfiction articles online, nonfiction professional literature, blog posts, news articles, and facebook posts.) But that is a completely different type of reading. And I can't use that type of literature to share and motivate 4th and 5th graders to read.
(Hey I just read the most awesome facebook post the other day. You should check it out.) No. Won't work.
I'm talking about reading for the pleasure of reading: for getting lost in a book, in a different world, in a narrative structure, in a setting unlike one I've ever known, becoming a character I've never met yet feel like I've known my entire life. I want to read and get lost in a book and forget where I am and feel like I've just watched an amazing movie, and when I realize I am me and not the character I'll feel astonished at how much time has slipped by in the day and how many pages I've turned in the book. I want to read to feel better. I want to read to escape when I feel stuck in life. And I want to read to feel changed as a person. You can't get all that from scrolling through status updates. (Even the really good ones.)
So this upcoming year, I've got some ideas brewing to Create a Community of Readers. And it begins with the adults.
The 25 Book Challenge
This year our school is taking part in a 25 Book Challenge. We are challenging students to read 25 award-winning or best selling books. But since we are asking them to do it, it’s only fair that we do it as well. Plus, it will make us better readers, more knowledgeable about books, more enthusiastic about books, and we will be able to share and recommend books more authentically to our students.
(We got this idea from the 40 Book Challenge from The Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller. But we are starting out small this year and beginning with 25.)
Helping Students Find Books
Sometimes just finding the right book is all it takes to realize you are a reader. And I think finding them is a strategy we don’t often teach. Becoming part of a community of readers is the first step I think. But I was trying to figure out other ways for students to learn about other books.
New York Times Best Seller List Bulletin Board
This may be a bit ambitious, but I thought it would be really awesome to have a changing bulletin board. Every Monday, the new updated New York Times Best Seller List would be posted for students to see what is still on the list and what other books have made it. I’m sure I could convince some really good go-getter students to take charge of this.
New York Times Best Seller List Middle Grade
Finding Award Winners
I wish there was a site that visually displayed all award winning books. And I wish it were a searchable site. I’m disappointed that the Newbery site doesn’t have the cover of the books displayed. It just seems that it would be much more appealing for students to search award winning books by the cover that included a short blurb about it. Anyone know of any sites about there? For the time being, I've posted links below to different book awards sites. Having students know where to find award winning books would be really helpful.
Having a display of them would also be great for students to see. If you can think of other awards or such a site, please comment below. I know there are some great boards on pinterest for this. Perhaps I need to create my own. (*I’m not purposefully leaving out such awards as Caldecott or Geisel Award or those specifically for Young Adult, but I am particularly interested in books for 4th and 5th graders which is why I didn’t include them on this list below.)
Newbery Award (Given to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.)
Scott O’Dell (Historical Fiction)
National Book Award
Edgar Awards (Mysteries)
Children’s Choice Book Awards (Only national book award where the winners are chosen by children.)
Coretta Scott King Book Award (Outstanding African American authors and Illustrators.)
Schneider Family Book Award
The Power of Read Alouds
Lastly, one amazing way to spread the love of reading is through reading aloud even to 4th and 5th graders. Here is an amazing post about one teacher reinstating the read aloud in her classroom and why it isn't the first thing to go when pressed for time.
Current Chapter Current Thoughts
While doing a class read aloud, this is a fantastic way to show students' thinking and engagement.
Do you have any other ideas for loving books, knowing books, and sharing books? Please comment below and let me know.
Mondays with Mandy or Mira consists of Mandy Yates and Mira Reisberg. Mira is the founder of the Children's Book Academy and was so impressed with Mandy when she was a student in one of the interactive courses, that she invited Mandy to share the blog. Mandy has as an MFA in creative writing from Spalding University and has been published multiple times in Highlights Magazine. We hope you enjoy and find our offerings helpful.
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