Strategies Teachers Can Use to Build a Love of Literacy

Building a love of literacy is one task each teacher is challenged to do. But how do we reach and more importantly build a love of literacy in all kids? In this post, you'll learn about a collection of strategies that you might try.
How do we build a love of literacy in our classrooms? Do our students know how important it is to us that all of our children love reading? We all have our favorite subjects to teach, and we may even say or think, "Well, I'm not really a reader," or, "I'm a math person." As hard as we try, we may pass these messages on to our students. Gasp! Having preferences is natural, but it's important as teachers that we do all we can to help children find books they love and build lifelong reader habits.

This wonderful FREE interest inventory created by Teaching East of the Middle is featured in this blog post on strategies for building a love of literacy in the classroom. Identifying Reader Preferences

Children have unique interests. Some love sports, while others prefer activities in the arts. Students may prefer a specific genre or author too. These interests can lead to a starting point for books a child might enjoy and help us with book titles that we might recommend or that other students might recommend to each other.

There are many ways that we can learn about our students' reading preferences. Of course, kids love talking about the activities they're involved in outside of school. However, sometimes there just isn't a lot of time to chit chat. Giving students a simple interest inventory like this one is quick and provides us with the information we need. Inventories can also give us insight into where our students read and whether they prefer complete silence or background music, bright light or dim, and a cozy nook or reading at a table.

Book Talks

Book talks from the teacher as well as from students help spark interest in new literature. As you learn about new titles, you might work a little promo into your morning meetings or as part of your mentor text lessons. You might highlight great titles you see in the Scholastic Book Order forms you send out, or you might share just the opening of a book or an exciting scene as a teaser. After all, this method is used all the time with movie trailers. In fact, you might even consider letting your students videotape book trailers to share with classmates. My friend, Anita, over at Goodwinnovate, has a great collection of blog posts on using greenscreens in the classroom. Imagine how fun that type of project would be for your students. AND...all you need is an iPhone or iPad and a green bedsheet as a backdrop to get started! 

Book recommendation walls can spark great conversations. Students can use these conversation hearts to share why they love the book they've read. FREE RESOURCE Book Recommendation Walls

Book recommendation walls are a must in my opinion. They can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. I've done them with blank index cards where students simply record the title of the book, a small illustration, and a one sentence summary. You can also create them with some of the seasonal forms I've shared (Christmas Lights, Mittens , and for this month, Conversation Hearts). With all of these activities, we strung them on clothesline in the hallway to share with classmates in other classes. You can read all about our We đź’—Literacy Month here

A Book a Month Project

Recently, a few teacher friends started A Book a Month Project by soliciting sponsors for each of their students. For just $10 a month, teachers can purchase a book a month for each child in their classroom using Scholastic Book Club's dollar deals. I think it's the best idea ever IF you can find the sponsors for your kids, and what a way to spark motivation! 

Building a love of literacy is one task each teacher is challenged to do. But how do we reach and more importantly build a love of literacy in all kids? In this post, you'll learn about a collection of strategies that you might try. One School, One Book

One School, One Book is a parental involvement activity many schools have adopted to foster independent reading in the home. Typically, one chapter book is chosen for families to read together, so it's important that the RIGHT book is chosen in order to include all age levels. Parental involvement funds through Title 1 can be used for this project. At the end of the reading time, you might host a "book bites" night for discussing the book or have the kids create a final project to share. 

Book Clubs

A few years ago, our school hosted afterschool book clubs for students in grades three through five. The kids signed up to read one of 3-4 book titles, and each group was led by a parent volunteer. The children really enjoyed it and so did the parents. Many of the books chosen had discussion guides available online which helped in the planning, and during the winter months, it was nice for the kids to have an afterschool activity. Participation in the fall and in the spring dropped off considerably due to afterschool sporting activities, and then, we also lost funding for transportation. However, another option is to run book clubs in the classroom.
Book recommendation walls can spark great conversations. Students can use these conversation hearts to share why they love the book they've read. FREE RESOURCE
Running book clubs during the language arts block provides students with several big benefits:

First of all, all students can participate, and in a way, it provides them with additional small group time

Secondly, we know conversation builds enthusiasm and engagement. Kids in upper elementary need to talk, and having a shared experience with a book builds wonderful memories.

With book clubs, you can also work in accountability. You can run your clubs using reciprocal teaching where each student has a specific job or role such as these on the right OR you can provide your students with a response to reading form that must be turned in after the group meets. Below, you'll find a subscribers only resource I created for book clubs. I hope you'll find the set helpful in planning.

Finally, book clubs can assist students in making connections with their peers in the classroom. Students learn who has the same reading preferences as themselves, and from there, they can make book recommendations to each other.

And one more point...book clubs make reading fun.

Fun takehome bags can add pizzazz to your nightly reading routine. You can find them at the Target Dollar Spot or in your local Dollar Tree store. Daily Takehome Books

The last suggestion I have is to have a well stocked classroom library that you can use for lending. For my entire teaching career, I've done takehome bags. Each night, kids get to take home a book to read. In the middle to upper grades, it might be the book they picked from the library, but for the primary grades, I always sent a short picture book geared to the child's independent reading level that the STUDENT picked. It takes time to switch books out, but my kids were always trained to swap them out. During the day, we worked in about 15 minutes of independent reading where I would confer with students about their books. We didn't discuss every single one, but we did discuss enough that I was able to learn what my students liked reading and because I knew books, I was able to recommend books they might choose next. To build your classroom library, I have several suggestions:
  • Send out notes via your school newsletters and to your parents that you are in need. Many parents clean out bookshelves and enjoy donating books to teachers.
  • Check out yardsales. Most books in my library were purchased at yardsales for a quarter a piece.
  • Make requests for the use of Title 1 funding to support reading at home. 
  • Donor's Choose is another great source of funding. A well written proposal with photos is sure to get funded.

Do you use book bins to organize your readers? Check out this post for ways to build a love of reading in your classroom. Book Bins

My last suggestion for building interest in reading is to provide your students with book bins. You can find wonderful bins at The Dollar Tree or Target's Dollar Spot that are perfect for this purpose. In each bin, students can keep their library books, guided reading books that can be used for repeated reading poetry anthologies, magazines, bookmarks, journals, sticky notes, and/or highlighters. 

As you can see, there are LOTS of ways we can encourage a love of literacy. This list is certainly not all inclusive, so what do you do? Please share your best tips for celebrating books in your room.