Read With Me: 5 Tips to Foster a Love for Reading by Lisa Michelle Dabbs

Read With Me: 5 Tips to Foster a Love for Reading

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"Read along with me: the best is yet to be." - Lisa Dabbs (adapted from Robert Browning)

When I first became a teacher, I was excited to begin sharing the love of reading with my students. I grew up loving to read and couldn't wait to open up the children's literary book club pick that my Dad had on monthly order for me.

The time I spent with books transformed my life and sparked my imagination. I wanted to create a similar experience for my students, but I found that it was sometimes a challenge due to their home life circumstances. In the end, though, it was well worth the effort.

Fostering the love of reading in your class may take a little work, but there are plenty of resources available to support you in this effort. Here are five suggestions that can help you get started with leading the "love for reading" charge.

1. Read Aloud

Read-aloud time was one of the favorite things in my class. My students loved the chance to sit together on the carpet or at their desks and listen to their teacher read. It was one of the best times of the day for me. I loved to read in different voices and "ham it up," depending on the book we were reading. It gave my students a chance to see me in a different light and connect with me in a down-to-earth way. Don't neglect this opportunity to bring reading alive in the classroom. Remember that it's OK to read fave books many times during the year, and to include chapter books and poetry as well. If reading aloud is not your thing, seek out colleagues, administrators, parents and web friends who can support you. Skype an Author is also a great way to build excitement around the read-aloud time.

2. Visit the Library -- Weekly

When was the last time you stepped into your local library to check out the haps? When was the last time you did this with your class? It's true that many school libraries have been shut down, but why not consider planning a library field trip? It's an amazing opportunity to get books into the hands of your kids -- for free! Get colleagues, parents and school admin to support you. Your local librarian can be an excellent resource, so be sure to tap him or her for support. While you're there, don't forget to sign everyone up for a library card!

3. Develop a Classroom Library

Did you know that research says we should have at least 1,200 books in our classroom libraries to support our students' literacy? Do you have a classroom library? If not, I urge you to develop one. To share the love of reading with our students, we need to have a variety of books that are easily accessible for them to read. How do we accomplish this feat? By enlisting the support of parents, friends and family who will make a commitment to support your goal of developing and sustaining a classroom library. Ask them to donate books or sponsor your class with resources that can be used to purchase books. Also, be sure to collaborate with colleagues on creative ways to fund your libraries.

4. Start a Book Club

The idea of a book club can be so exciting for our kids. Many students will benefit from the fun interaction that a book club can provide. Book talks with friends makes the idea of reading that much more enjoyable. The whole social nature of book clubs can be a very positive activity for kids who may still feel that reading is boring. For a resource on how to get a book club rolling, check out Elizabeth's blog post about how she engages her students in reading.

5. Write Stories

Writing stories can be overwhelming for kids. At the beginning, let's make this easy and fun. Try the idea of adapting a current storyline of a favorite book (Brown Bear, Brown Bear comes to mind) and having students turn that into "their" story. Early grades especially can benefit from this strategy to support a student's writing until they are ready to write (with your guidance) on their own. Consider integrating apps, such as StoryBird and FlipSnack, that allow for a collaborative writing experience.

More Suggestions to Keep On Reading

Here are three more resources that you might want to check out:

  1. Read with Me: My Book List: Create a Pinterest board with your classroom.
  2. What Should I Read Next?: Type in your favorite book, and this website will list 20 others similar to it.
  3. Ten Ways to Cultivate a Love of Reading in Students: My fellow Edutopia blogger Elena Aguilar provides more great tips.

The five tips I've shared today are probably not new to you, but they are a way to help you stay on course with nurturing a love of reading in your classroom. Do you have suggestions of your own? I'd love to have you share them in the comments.

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Comment by Bruce Deitrick Price on February 18, 2014 at 4:53pm

I wrote a long version of my answer several years ago called "30: The War Against Reading" on my site I think you would enjoy it.

The short version is that starting about 1925, the Left decided to conduct a full-scale war against traditional education and to engage in what Iserbyt called "the deliberate dumbing down of America." The main thing they wanted to kill was literacy, and thus they introduced look-say into the schools about 1931. They are still introducing variations of look-say into the schools now.

 At this point we have to make a distinction between the people at the top (they are ruthless SOB's and know exactly what they're doing) and the great majority of people in education, who do what their superiors tell them to do. If you were a low-level priest in the Catholic Church, are you going to dispute what the Pope says? If you're a private in the Army, are you going to dispute what a general says? So the truth is that teachers do not know that they have been lied to, and are poorly educated or not educated at all about reading.


So what I do now is write a lot of articles trying to make it clear that whole word cannot possibly work, that phonics is the only answer, that there is a great deal of deception and propaganda in education. But teachers are pretty well brainwashed during their two years at Ed school. They do not like to hear their field or their professors criticized. They do not like to hear that they have wasted two years learning nonsense,  understandably enough.

 So I don't see any magic bullet. Many of these young teachers do not know who Flesch is, or Blumenfeld. So we're talking about a level of ignorance that is close to ground level. So, these days I'm more and more aggressive about saying that the whole thing is organized to make children dumber. I'm more aggressive about saying that the Education Establishment is rotten at the top and the entire group should be fired.

 Meanwhile, there must be 10,000 of these commissars. They've got $1 billion to throw around. There is no policy so stupid that they cannot put it into the schools. They are organized into a network of professional groups like the NCTE, the IRA, and many others. They reinforce each other.

 Robin Eubanks has just written a long book, "Credentialed to Destroy," to explain all this in international terms. Her view is, if we don't save the country and education now, it's not going to be saved. We are approaching the point of no return with Common Core. 

 This piece I've just written about Mona McNee is a quick, pleasant way to learn about a fascinating woman and the whole of the Reading Wars for the past 50 years. So I recommend it to everybody in this context. (It  features a short video called "Reading is Easy." Perhaps, if a few million people saw this video, we could be saved overnight.)

 Well, that's the best I can do for now. Thanks for asking.

Comment by Tunya Audain on February 18, 2014 at 4:05pm

Phonics As Education Malpractice – Where Did This Belief Come From?


Surely, everyone would agree that being able to read is key to living a full and useful life. After following the “Reading Wars” issue, I’m still not clear why some teachers resist using phonics as part of their range of approaches to teaching reading. Why is phonics — a proven approach — treated as “malpractice”?  Could it be


  •        teacher training bias?
  •        lack of training in phonics approaches?
  •      political ideological agenda?
  •        deliberate dumbing down?
  •        evidence-based research?
  •        conflicting literacy theories?
  •       Other


Surely love of reading has to be grounded on the ability to read. To me it verges on professional misconduct for a teacher to deliberately avoid a method that might do the trick for that percentage of students who are not being reached by today’s practices.  Couldn’t parents, on behalf of their affected child, sue because of a denial or withholding of services?


So, Bruce, are there articles or books where we can find why there is this resistance? This resistance itself needs to be dealt with?  Where do we start?  Is there any good news on this front?


This decades-long “Reading War” is unfinished business and needs to be settled.  We’ve got urgent challenges ahead with Data Wars lurking.  We can’t afford to have mindless, illiterate people trying to make proper decisions in the 21st Century.


Comment by Bruce Deitrick Price on February 15, 2014 at 7:39pm

 it seems odd to me that there is no mention in this article of making sure the children can read. This was a feature of the whole language classroom. Thousands of books, constant caressing of books and talking about books, but many of the children never learn to read.

I just did an email interview with Mona McNee. Her life is the Reading Wars. In 1950 Fred Schonell, a leading UK authority, taught that children should memorize the outlines of words. This is so completely insane you know the fix was in. The children were not supposed to learn to read. And after all these years, there is still a lot of this in the field's DNA, sad to say..






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