- March 20, 2018 at 11:13 AM #46466
What have you done to encourage a love of reading in your students, especially in jr. high and high school?
In grades 1-6 we use the Pizza Hut Book-It program, which seems to be effective in getting them to read for pizza. Once they hit 7th and 8th, and especially high school, for-fun reading seems to drop off quite a bit. Part of this has to do with increasing homework loads.
I’m especially interested in finding good quality, high-interest books. I’m familiar with the reading list put out by FBCS/CLR.
I’d be glad for any input. Thanks.
- March 20, 2018 at 9:00 PM #46487
We have a short period after lunch, 15 minutes, when high school students are encouraged to read a chapter book of their choice. I try to keep books available in the classroom or at times I will assign books for them to read. The room is furnished with a few soft chairs and comfortable seats for the students to use when reading.
- March 21, 2018 at 12:50 PM #46490
For a different kind of book report, I’ve assigned high school students to interview an adult (you could ask them to choose someone outside the immediate family) regarding a book or periodical article. This assignment not only interacts with reading material, but it involves discussion with someone about something they’ve read, which adds two additional elements (a) “Processing” reading material rather than just reading it (b) Discussion with someone outside of school (which should be a lifelong habit). This assignment could be adapted for elementary levels.
Here’s a copy of the assignment (note that it does not require the student to read the book, but to draw out the significant content/insights of the book via interview):
Q. What is as important as reading?
A. Talking with others about what we and they have read.
One of our major privileges and responsibilities when we have read something of value (and that’s all we should read) is to converse with others about what we’ve read.
Talking about what you and others have read multiplies the value for both of you. It helps to clarify the content in your own mind and see applications to your own life.
Your assignment is to interview (have a focused, purposeful conversation with) someone about a book he or she has read recently—or one that was really good or life-influencing. Take notes from your interview. Then share with the class orally:
–A short summary of the book.
–A short reading from the book (if you can bring it in).
–A brief critique of the book based on the reader’s analysis, which will include a recommendation of why others should or should not read it.
–How the book affects our lives—what does it help us understand,
know how to do, or affect the way we look at things?
- March 21, 2018 at 6:51 PM #46512
Thanks both for replying. The comfy chairs and assigned reading period is something we should try.
Jonas, your idea helps students to learn why reading matters, and how reading can affect their lives. I love this. Will try it. Thanks.
- March 22, 2018 at 10:22 PM #46530
I teach grades 3-4 so these thoughts may have to be tweaked to fit . . . One way of paving the way to having students continue to love reading is to regularly read to them — carefully chosen, high quality books. It is true that one reason I jealousy guard our daily classroom story time slot is simply because I want them to love to read. Only on rare occasions do I cut out our story time; if need be (as in these past two weeks with a lot of time going into spring program practice) I ask them to do some work like penmanship or other work they can do while still listening to the story. Is it possible to have a slot of time to read to high schoolers?
Another thing I intentionally do to promote a love of reading is buy (new to us, but used) books to put into the library. Lots of them. When you buy them used (in great condition), you can buy a lot of books for not so much money. Sometimes they get to help me unpack them when they arrive to our school address, but usually I have them sent to my house and proof them (in varying degrees of carefulness) before making them available to the students. The students love this and regularly check out the next one from the shelf in the room specifically designated for these “new” books. Next year they will be in the main library, but for this year, they get first dibs. This has created a lot of enthusiasm for reading and makes a real difference in how much they read. I cannot, however, say how it is after they head to higher grades. But this is how I try to plant seeds.
- March 24, 2018 at 9:26 PM #46628
I am reminded of what Jim Trelease had to say in his book The Read Aloud Handbook. He would ask adult readers what they read as children. Many times they were reading comic books and serial books that we would tend to view as “fluffy” reading. His conclusion was that it was the quantity of time spent reading rather than the quality of material that inspired adult readers. I don’t have the book in hand at the moment so I hope I’m remembering his idea correctly.
Now, I do think that students need exposure to quality literature, so I’m not advocating supplying our reading shelves with comic books. But in observing students over time, I’ve come to the conclusion that we need to make the stories accessible to students. By this, I’m thinking of their comprehension level and reading level. No one will read consistently for enjoyment if they are always wading their way through books and ideas over their heads. We have a few current eighth graders who continue to amaze me in their book selections–Ben Hur, The Last of the Mohicans, etc. But the class of seventh graders below them would be lost on the first page. It’s difficult to get them to read much of anything that isn’t assigned. On the same vein, years ago there was a student who had reading difficulties, though he loved stories. He spent a lot of time (as a 3rd – 7th grader) reading Curious George, Bill Peet, and similar type stories. He got to the point that if he found a book that interested him he would wade through it, even if it took a long time. By the time he was through 8th grade he’d made it through all of the Roll of Thunder trilogy.
- March 30, 2018 at 3:29 PM #46677
I remember hearing or reading something very similar—that poor students don’t read at all, average students read what they’re assigned to, and good students read joke books. I’m sure this is correlation rather than causation, but it says something…
- March 30, 2018 at 3:54 PM #46679
I like Crista’s idea of scheduling reading time for high schoolers. Much like Darrell mentioned, I rarely see my grades 7–12 students read for fun because they have little or no free time at school. The more I think about it, the more I’d like to put reading time in the schedule.
Except the schedule is already full. I could carve it out of class time, but we already have trouble getting everything packed in there. I could take time from study hall, but there would surely be an uproar from students anxious to get homework done. If you’ve done this, how did you make it work? Any other thoughts or suggestions?
- April 27, 2018 at 5:16 PM #47703
I’ve sometimes assigned 7th/8th students to keep a reading log of pages read weekly–whether in articles, stories, books. Mostly they read books, but not necessarily whole books. We filled a “thermometer” on the wall with pages read with a goal of tens of thousands, which I thought was high, but they topped it by March. Once a week or so, I took some time in English class for students to simply “talk about” what they’ve been reading (not formal book reports, in this case). And some of the readers did read “fluff” books–but they did read. Reading does strengthen reading. Better to read some “fluff” (so long as it’s OK fluff) than not read at all. Not all exercise is equally inspiring or invigorating, but it is still exercise and strengthens one in some way.
- June 15, 2018 at 9:26 PM #48998
Another idea for inspiring lifelong reading…
Probably every community has a half dozen or more adults who enjoy reading, find time to read, and would be happy to share some readings with students. As you make your schedule this summer, book one of them to visit your class monthly and bring along two of their favorite current “reads.” Give them a half hour to introduce them to your class by giving an overview of the book; then spend most of the time reading to the students. You can make the whole schedule in a half hour; spend another hour or so contacting them–then the work is done except for a reminder as the day approaches. The pareto principle really works during the summer. Each hour spent planning can reap voluminous benefits next term.
- June 16, 2018 at 8:38 AM #49000
I’ve actually been thinking about this reading business and making plans for next school year. My current notion is to assemble a nice shelf-full of nonfiction and set aside the first 20 min. of my 9th and 10th grade US history class on Mondays for reading. At the end of the 20 min. each student will fill out a simple form, writing how many pages they read and one thing they learned. They’ll get a pass/fail quiz grade on these forms. I like the pages-read thermometer poster idea; I think I’ll offer a reward for milestones such as every 10,000 pages.
Have any of you done something like this? Any suggestions?
- August 25, 2018 at 1:48 PM #51635
On the subject of reading aloud to high schoolers…take the opportunity whenever you can to read short selections from “real books” that illuminate the subject under study. Rather than having a set “read aloud” time, (which is great if you have the time for it in your schedule), read snippets from biographies, articles, stories, or news items that relate to the current subject.
If studying the industrial revolution, consider readings from Hard Times or Sinclair’s The Jungle. In literature, read a couple pages from another work by the author of the piece you are reading. If you are studying about hurricanes, read an account of the “Galveston Hurricane” of 1900, the deadliest natural disaster of the U.S.–and one of the worst to affect Canada. Such readings help cultivate the realization that reading widely expands our horizons–it’s not just something we do with print subject in school-type material.
- August 29, 2018 at 5:58 PM #51669
We had the year’s first reading time in my 9th and 10th grade US history class on Monday. I’ve assembled a nice selection of nonfiction books related to history from the school library and my own bookshelves. My plan is very close to what I outlined in my June 16 post above. Every Monday students will spend the first 20 minutes of class reading. Afterwards they fill out a simple form, writing at least one thing they learned from their reading so I know their brains were turned on. A correctly filled-out form gets a grade of 100 and counts as half of a quiz in my grading system. They earn extra credit for each 100 pages read in the same book and for reading an entire book of at least 200 pages.
The students were enthused and read with admirable focus. I think this will be one of the year’s highlights.
- August 30, 2018 at 10:21 AM #51671
I’d encourage you to keep exploring ways to include genuine reading in the school setting. Once upon a time, university students were more likely to say they were reading rather than studying history, literature, or philosophy. Reading (taking in and experiencing the new) and studying (pondering and processing the new) are both of value.
Something there is in a student that wearies of being constantly introduced to carefully chosen and crafted segments of knowledge along with artfully arranged visuals and skillfully managed discussions, small group activities, turn and tells, and being told to think for himself.
Especially in history and literature, students are most likely to “read” more of it in the future if they experience it in school. Most adults don’t “study” much of anything bookish after they leave school, but most should do at least some lifelong “reading.” Where, when, and how do they learn to do so?
- February 23, 2019 at 9:28 PM #55630
Update—With the majority of the school year behind us, I think I can say that my reading experiment has been a success. Students read willingly and seem to enjoy it in a low-key way. I haven’t found it necessary to change the procedure described above. It’s been gratifying to see some students make significant progress through very thick books that they likely would never have cracked open otherwise.
- February 25, 2019 at 12:59 PM #55633
Would you be willing to share the list of books that you had available?
- February 28, 2019 at 5:02 PM #55689
It’s not a carefully curated collection, just a shelf full of maybe about 100 nonfiction books that are related in some way to history or geography (since in my classroom this activity is part of history class). I brought roughly 1/3 of them from my personal library, and the rest were rescued from the storage to which they were relegated from our school library a couple years ago because nobody was checking them out (sad…). There’s a wide variety, from middle-school-level biographies to missionary stories to tomes from historians like Barbara Tuchman and Bernard DeVoto. My goal was to make sure each student has plenty of options.
That doesn’t answer your question directly, sorry. Early next week I can list the books students read that week to give you a more specific answer, at least partially.
- March 5, 2019 at 6:56 PM #55722
Here are the books my students read yesterday during reading time. It’s pretty representative of our selection.
A History of the Amish by Steven Nolt
The Anguish of the Jews: Twenty-three Centuries of Anti-Semitism by Edward H. Flannery
The Mayos: Pioneers in Medicine by Adolph Regli
Uncovering Soviet Disasters: Exploring the Limits of Glasnost by James E. Oberg (one of my favorites; plane crashes, nuclear disasters, and the like covered up by Soviet authorities)
The Nation Comes of Age: A People’s History of the Ante-Bellum Years (Volume 4 of A People’s History of the United States [NOT the Howard Zinn thing]) by Page Smith (another favorite)
The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman (account of the beginning of World War 1; also a favorite)
Good Evening Everybody: From Cripple Creek to Samarkand by Lowell Thomas (autobiography)
Drifting Home by Pierre Berton (account of a trip down the Yukon River)
The European Discovery of America: The Northern Voyages by Samuel Eliot Morison
Under a Thatched Roof in a Brazilian Jungle by Rosemany Cunningham (missionary story)
In Review: Pictures I’ve Kept by Dwight D. Eisenhower (autobiography)
Windows for the Crown Prince by Elizabeth Gray Vining (memoir of a tutor to the Japanese royal family)
Mozart by Marcia Davenport (biography)
- June 25, 2019 at 4:16 PM #73304
Someone requested that I share how my reading time experiment turned out. To that end, during the last week of the school year I had my students anonymously fill out a questionnaire, reproduced below with the number of students (out of 13) who responded in the given ways.
How many entire or partial books did you read during this school year as part of our reading activity?
2: 6 students
3: 4 students
4: 1 student
5: 1 student
more than 5: 1 student
Median answer: 3 books
How many entire books did you read during this school year as part of our reading activity?
0: 8 students
1: 3 students
2: 1 student
3: 1 student
Median answer: 0 books
On a scale of 1 to 10, how interesting was the most interesting book that you read? (1 = extremely boring, 10 = extremely interesting)
2: 1 student
4: 1 student
5: 2 students
6: 3 students
7: 2 students
8: 4 students
Median answer: 6 out of 10
On a scale of 1 to 10, how interesting was the least interesting book that you read?
(1 = extremely boring, 10 = extremely interesting)
1: 4 students
2: 2 students
3: 5 students
4: 1 student
5: 1 student
Median answer: 3 out of 10
On a scale of 1 to 10, how enjoyable was the activity overall?
(1 = not enjoyable at all, 10 = extremely enjoyable)
1: 2 students
3: 1 student
4: 6 students
5: 1 student
6: 1 student
8: 2 students
Median answer: 4 out of 10
On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you think you learned from the activity?
(1 = nothing, 10 = an enormous amount)
2: 1 student
3: 2 students
4: 2 students
5: 3 students
6: 3 students
7: 1 student
8: 1 student
Median answer: 5 out of 10
What suggestions do you have for improving the activity, or what other thoughts do you have about the activity?
“It was good.”
“DON’T DO IT!”
“not doing it lol” (This, interestingly, from a student who gave the activity an enjoyability score of 1 and a how-much-I-learned score of 8.)
“Bring more interesting books.”
“It was good, but over a week, I sometimes forgot what I read last time, so it was almost like starting a new book each time.”
“Make the reading time shorter but over more days.”
Now for my own observations and thoughts.
- Students did seem to tire of the activity toward the end of the year, as evidenced by the fairly low median enjoyability score. I heard little overt grumbling, but many students expressed gladness when we skipped the activity on a few occasions.
- Nonetheless, with few exceptions they read diligently during the allotted time.
- It’s interesting that nearly half the students tried only two books, and that only three students tried four or more books, even though dozens were available. Next time I may encourage students to try more books, and de-emphasize book completion.
- Since the activity took up half a class period once a week, it occupied about 10% of the year’s US history classtime, which I think turned out to be a reasonable tradeoff.
- It was gratifying to see some students make significant progress through weighty tomes.
I think I’ll repeat the activity, although I may tweak the format and see what I can do to assemble a more attractive selection of books.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.