August 10

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Creating a Reading Culture in the Classroom by Ann Hagedorn

When students walk into my classroom, I want them to see that I value reading and books and that my goal is for them to do the same. There is a sign that hangs in the front of my class that states, We read every day. I have a large classroom library that spans the back of my classroom wall. There are pictures of book covers surrounding the door and walls. This is intentionally done to create a reading culture in my classroom and to help my students value reading.

 

Here are pictures of the number of books some of my students read at the end of the school year. 

 

Here are 10 ways I create a reading culture in my classroom:

  1. I am constantly reading all types of young adult books so that I can recommend good books to my students. I even created an Instagram account for my students to follow with book recommendations (Instagram username: mrshagedornreads).

  1. I have a large classroom library that I keep up to date. It is very important to me, so I buy books for my students to read. I make sure to have books in a variety of genres that represent diverse people, backgrounds, cultures and religions. Students need a lot of different kinds of books, and they need them close by. I believe readers must be surrounded by books and that they must be able to see themselves and others who are different than themselves in these books. Classroom libraries are a must to creating a reading culture.

 

  1. Daily book talks is one of  the most influential things I do to encourage reading in my students. After greeting the students each day, I do a 1-2 minute book talk. I do this every single day of the year. Sometimes I share more than one book in a day. I make sure I vary the genre and type of book that I share. By the end of the year, the students will hear at least 180 book talks.

 

  1. I put 5-6 books on the whiteboard ledge, with a brief summary written above the book on the board, or something to spark their interest about the book. When someone takes a book, I replace it with another.

 

  1. I created a, “Mrs. Hagedorn is currently reading” poster on the computer. I laminated it and write with whiteboard markers the title and author of the book I am currently reading. I have it on the side of my desk. It is amazing how many students look at it and ask me questions about the book I’m reading, just from the sign with the title and author.

  1. I print copies of book covers on 4X6 photo paper. I tape them all around my door on both sides. When students walk in and out of my room, they can see that I value reading. Many times the covers will spark conversations about the books. My students will talk with each other about the books they have read, or want to read. Students will also ask me if they can check out a book from one of the pictures on the door.

 

  1. Once I have read a book, I print a small picture of the book cover and put it on a board for the students to see. It shows them that I am always reading. Many times they will ask me about a book they see from my printed covers.

 

  1. Student book talks take very little time, but can be impactful. Every few weeks I have my students write a book they enjoyed on a notecard. I have them write the title, author, give a brief summary, why they liked it, and write what type of reader they think would like the book. When we have a few minutes at the end of class, or as we are transitioning between different activities, I may pull some cards and have the students share from their card. It takes 30 seconds to 1 min.

  1. We all judge books by their cover. Some books that students love don’t have very desirable covers.  As a way to get kids interested in books that they may not be inclined to pick up, I do a book pass activity. I gather lots of books and spread them out on a few tables. Each student takes a book. I tell them to look at the front and back covers and read what the book is about. I also tell them to flip through the book to get a sense of the writing layout, and format. Then I tell them to start reading the beginning of the book. I set a timer and let them read for 2-3 minutes. When the timer ends, I have them write down their thoughts on a book pass rating paper (See image above). Then I have them return their book to the middle of the pile and select another book. We repeat this process at least 5 times. At the end, I have the students walk around to all the tables and browse the books that they didn’t get a chance to look at during the activity. During this time, students will also recommend books they thought looked interesting to their friends. Many students will find at least a few books to add to their, “Books I want to read list.”

 

  1. Our Favorite Books shelf is such an easy way to help students find good books. When students have finished a book they have loved, I have them place it on a bookshelf that I label, “Our Favs.” Many times when students don’t know where to begin in their book selection process, they will walk over and check out the books their classmates have enjoyed.

 

Ann Hagedorn is an 8th grade language arts teacher. She loves reading young adult books, writing, running, being outside and spending time with her two daughters. She can be found blogging her ideas from her middle school classroom at readwritetalk.wordpress.com, sharing her book recommendations at mrshagedornreads,  and on Twitter @annhagedorn.