Reading is a pleasurable act. That’s why so many people do it. Your prime directive as a teacher of reading is to help your students fall in love with reading. Once this occurs, much of your reading instruction takes care of itself.
So how do you do this?
1. Make good books readily available. Students will read for pleasure if they have something pleasurable to read. In your classroom, you’ll need to have an assortment of interesting and enjoyable books. These books should be of varying levels (two to six reading levels above and below grade level); both narrative and expository; and encompassing a wide range of genre, types, and subjects.
2. Include high/low and high/very-low books. High/low stands for high interest/low reading level. These are books that are of interest to students in grades 3 through 12 but written at the 1st or 2nd grade level. They are concept-driven and picture-based. That is, they are about concepts or topics of interest to students and use pictures to present relevant information. One or two sentences are written beneath each picture to describe it. In this way, students are able to use existing neural networks along with picture information to help create meaning with the text as they read.
3. Validate light reading. When you and I go into a library or book store we don’t look for books that will challenge us. We look for books that we’ll enjoy. Allow students the same privileges we enjoy. Remember, for reading practice, students should be reading books at their independent reading level or BELOW. For voluntary reading, there is no such thing as a book that’s “too easy”.
4. Read to students. Having an ongoing book that you read out loud to your students is a simple yet effective way to draw children into books. It also provides rich opportunities for incidental learning related to events, concepts, and vocabulary. Even five to ten minutes a day will expose your students to a variety of authors, characters, new vocabulary, genre, and concepts. It can also be effective in helping children settle down so that they’re able to concentrate after a recess or at the beginning of a reading class.