5 Ways to Make Them Love Reading in Time for Summer
Let’s Get Real
I don’t know about your students, but after prepping for the state reading test for weeks and then taking two full days to test, my kids were just about done with reading- and that’s not okay. We have three short weeks before summer and summer slide is real. I know that even if they read all day, every day at school until break, a lot of them will still come back on a level a little lower than where they left off. I started thinking of ways to use the time we have left to really get them to fall back in love with reading again so I can make sure it’ll be something they want to do over summer.
Even though wanting to avoid reading is not okay, it is understandable. The weeks leading up to testing made it more of a chore than a choice…even with all the fun twists I sprinkle in for motivation. It honestly breaks my heart because teaching reading, authentic reading, is my passion. It’s what led to us departmentalizing in third grade to begin with. I wanted to remind them that reading is not just something they do for a test. If our goal is to create lifelong readers, we have to be purposeful…so I started brainstorming.
- White Board Read Alouds: These are one of my favorite things to do with my students and the students love them too! They get to listen to a fun read aloud AND write/draw on a whiteboard? Done. They’re obsessed. Basically I take any ol’ read aloud and give them a focus before I start reading. The focus can be something like, “draw a picture of the scene/setting from this chapter” or “write down everything you think the character is feeling”. I’ve done this with both chapter books and picture books and it’s always a hit. After a section, I also have them respond to a question or a prompt about what I read, also on their boards. (You can read more about how I do this here.)
- Free Choice Reading: It has been proven that the time a child spends reading correlates directly with their future reading achievement. So, it’s okay to not have a high-falutten lesson if you’re stressed out by all of the end of year check out nonsense or even if you just need to sit down. Independent reading is the best thing you could do for them anyway. (Obviously there are other factors involved like reading books on their level, focus, etc…but you get the picture). Book time in the library as a class and let them choose books that they want to read. Allow them to buddy read during this time too. Buddy reading is a great way for my lower level readers to read the harder books that the rest of my class is in to.
- Literature Circles/Book Clubs: The only time my students enjoy more than time to read on their own is time to read with peers. Literature circles are such a hit in my classroom because it makes my students feel like “big kids” that are running their own lessons. And their discussions are so good. I teach my students the process and they are each assigned a job to do. After they’ve read the section of the book, they each do their “job” and discuss them as a group when they meet. The booklet I use for literature circles can be found here.
- Fluency Practice: I don’t know about your students, but mine are crazy competitive. They are always down for a challenge, even when it’s against themselves. I use this to my advantage when we practice fluency. My students get a word list, phrase list, and passage each week. They are trained on how to track each other’s fluency, and then they have just one minute to race against the clock to beat their score. Read my blog post about how I set this up here and grab the freebie pack from my store here.
- Readers as Authors: One of my favorite end of year activities is really letting the students spend time focusing on their writing craft. I typically read a mentor text and then have my students plan and write books of the same style. I use the blank books from the Dollar Spot at Target and as soon as the students see they will be getting an actual book to house their final draft, they are all in. Last year, we read a graphic novel whole group (using the whiteboard strategy above) and then I asked my students to write their own graphic novels. It was by far the best writing productsI had ever seen my students create, so I will definitely be using it again this year.
Implementing these activities over the years has really helped to undo any negative perception of reading created by testing. I’m always open to new ways to engage my students, so if you have a great activity or strategy, please share! Comment below to let me know how you get students to fall in love with reading.