Celebrating a Love of Literacy

Oh my goodness. It's beginning to feel like spring around here, and with the sun out, don't you just feel like celebrating?  Well, friends, we have a great celebration week ahead for you. You already know what's on the calendar for tomorrow I'm sure.  Well, it may be one of the biggest literacy celebrations in our country, but alas...we can't really share about it. Enough said, so...we'll be sharing a few alternative options for you because this week we will be...

Celebrating a Love of Literacy

This week, whether you LOVE the man being honored or not, we are going to focus on ways to build a love of reading all year long in your schools. In today's post, I will be sharing celebration ideas that you can use with your students that also can be used as a way to involve your families too. After all, we know the importance of family involvement in children's academic programs.  I hope that you'll find a takeaway that you absolutely 100% MUST implement this year or next.

Looking for schoolwide and classroom reading activities to build stamina and increase parental involvement? Check out this post to learn about a few new ideas.

Celebration Ideas for Within Your Classroom
Originally, I was going to share ideas for the Light and Sound standards this month, but after chatting with the team, we opted to seize this opportunity to talk about literacy. I'll let you in on a secret. Sh! Don't tell on us, but some of us aren't fans of this famous man's books, and you know what? That is okay, isn't it?  Not every child will LOVE every book you offer them, so as teachers, don't we have the same thinking? BUT, we do want to somehow connect our kids to books they love in some form. To help you do just that, here are a few ideas I've gathered from the other reading specialists on our team as well as a few connections I've made in the bloggy world. 
A Case of Stripes
Jessica from Hanging Out in First builds striped hats as a reading incentive. During the week, Jessica's students add a stripe to their hats with each book they read. By the end of the week, they try to see who has the tallest hat and share about their favorite titles. They display these Abe Lincoln style hats in the hallway so other students can see what books they're enjoying. The hats are easy to make. All you need is the hat base and strips of paper for the students to write the book titles on. Choose the colors you like best and the project is complete.
Skype for Reading Buddies
Back in the day, many of us had penpals. I really enjoyed that and always looked forward to receiving my next letter from my friend from England. Well, enter the invention of Skype. Wow, who knew 15 years ago that we'd be able to see each other through the computer. Now, it is a huge help if you're traveling internationally as you can avoid the expensive of calling, BUT, it's also a great way to pair two classrooms too. Julie, The Techie Teacher, gave this a try. The students were paired with students in another classroom, dialed them up in the lab, and took turns reading the same book. Imagine how fun that would be?  
Therapy Dogs
Do you have reluctant readers? Well, [this post] from my friend, Emily over at Curious Firsties reminded me of a project we did at a few years ago. We had a wonderful retiree who happened to have the most adorable dog (Koby). Well, Koby was a cuddle up lapdog who loved to be read to, and several of my students looked forward to spending time with him each week. BUT, sometimes live animals are not available or workable if you have a child with allergies. Instead, you could also bring in furry stuffed pets for reading time too, and one addition you might include is a slipper wall, a place where the children's slippers are stored. Jillian Starr from The Starr Spangled Planner shared this last week on Facebook, and I love the idea. Nothing says cozy like a pair of slippers. Just hang your shoe rack up, and bingo...you have a slipper wall.
Book Bins for Building Stamina
Looking for schoolwide and classroom reading activities to build stamina and increase parental involvement? Check out this post to learn about a few new ideas.A while back, Jen from An Adventure in Literacy also shared options for book bins, and I wanted to emphasize how wonderful these are for organizing your readers. Each child has his/her own book bin and keeps a variety of books in it. They can be the library books they've chosen, magazines, and/or books from the classroom library. The reason for the bins is to keep things portable. Kids can take their bin with them during your independent reading time or when work is complete to that cozy spot you've set up. It's a great motivator too to let the kids decorate their bins.  You might even set up a few extra cozy spots and rotate through for those coveted spaces. Kids love that privilege.
Book Conferences and Graffiti Walls
Do you conference with your students or have sharing time where they can recommend books to each other?  If not, that has been shown to be an effective motivator. Another fun and easy way to highlight great books is with a graffiti wall. You can give kids index cards to decorate with the book's information and have them staple it to your wall (like a collage), but you might also be surprised to learn that graffiti walls are a great tool for classroom review before a big test. Search graffiti wall on Pinterest for more uses. Here's an example of what one might look like if kids share their favorite books.
Looking for schoolwide and classroom reading activities to build stamina and increase parental involvement? Check out this post to learn about a few new ideas.

Schoolwide Literacy Celebrations
This week, many schools will be hosting fun events to highlight favorite books, authors, and work to build a culture of reading within the school building and more importantly, with families.
Create a Favorite Books Wall
Looking for schoolwide and classroom reading activities to build stamina and increase parental involvement? Check out this post to learn about a few new ideas.
Jen from An Adventure in Literacy shared this great idea for creating a Featured Books Wall. Each family in her school was asked to share their favorite books in a book jacket decoration contest. The book jackets were displayed on a wall in a collage like fashion outside of their library for students to peruse as they went off to pick books for the week. How nice, right?
Parade of Floats
Looking for schoolwide and classroom reading activities to build stamina and increase parental involvement? Check out this post to learn about a few new ideas.
Last year, as a culminating activity at the end of the Virginia Studies tourism unit, our fourth grade classes created "floats" out of tissue boxes, cardboard wheels and two pencils as the axles. It got me thinking that it'd be great to apply this idea to book projects too. Imagine a float for the book, Enemy Pie or Mercy Watson. The supplies are not hard to find, and I could see this being lots of fun to do as a family. We've done other book projects in the past. I loved using trifold display projects for a unique "book fair". Here are a few projects from that event.
Looking for schoolwide and classroom reading activities to build stamina and increase parental involvement? Check out this post to learn about a few new ideas.
Camp Read A Lot
In the fall, camping is loads of fun, but even if the weather isn't just right, you can host a camping themed event with ease. Just bring in tents, sleeping bags, and pillows, make s'mores and hot cocoa, and have a few featured readers share favorite books by your fake camp fire. You might even sing a few campfire songs and come up with a make and take keepsake for your night. Each fall, we do this as our kick-off event. The whole family comes for a cookout dinner, storyteller, and great music. It works well in making the initial contacts with the family and setting the year off to a great start.
Schoolwide Literacy Event Board
I've shared quite a few options, and if you look through the Pinterest board below, you will find a TON more. Parental involvement is so important to student achievement, and it is up to us to make our parents feel warm, welcome, and valued. Check out these options for your next schoolwide event.
I am sure if you sit for even five minutes and think, you will probably come up with many more literacy celebration options for in your classroom or for the school. Remember though, it is the little things we do daily that make the difference with our students, and although it's important to host schoolwide celebrations, the celebrations that are most important happen right in your classroom. So...please tell us about the great things happening in your room and school. Together, we can make a difference each and every day.

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