According to the National Literacy Trust, 3 in 5 children in the UK enjoy reading, which is an all-time-high. This will come as good news for teachers, as the longer children maintain an enjoyment of reading, the greater the benefits are in the classroom.
In fact, 10-year-olds who enjoy reading have a reading age 1.3 years higher than their peers who do not enjoy reading, which rises to 2.1 years for 12-year-olds and 3.3 years for 14-year-olds.
But for all these benefits, some children are unenthusiastic about reading or unwilling to pick up a book. So, what can you do to engage reluctant readers? Here are 8 tips.
Get kids in the mood
Before encouraging your students to pick up a book, consider reading to them instead. Turn off the lights, put on some appropriate music, get children to shut their eyes and ask them to visualise the words you’re reading out. Once you stop, they’ll be more willing to carry on the story themselves.
Act it out
You’re bound to increase engagement levels if children actually feel like a part of the story. Get your class to act out what the characters are doing, concentrating on the story’s main themes. It can be less manic than role-play and much more structured.
Start a book club
Children will always jump at the chance to socialise with their friends, so consider starting a book club where classmates can read together. Keep it light and informal with drinks and snacks but remember to start conversations about the book’s content.
Make a game of it
Some children don’t enjoy reading out loud in class, but it’s incredibly important to their development and can help nurture several skills. To overcome apprehension, make a game of it by getting students to stop at a random point and picking someone else to read the next bit.
Try speed (book) dating
Set up your classroom with books on each table. Children are given five minutes to read the book in front of them before moving on to another table. It might seem a bit mean to stop them in the middle of reading, but this will spark their interest to continue the book later.
Create classroom libraries
Instead of having all the school’s books in one place, why not establish individual classroom libraries? Each room could have a subject-specific library, or contain books from a certain area of fiction.
Let children pick the book
Decide upon three books, write their titles on separate pieces of paper, and then put them all in individual envelopes. On the front of each envelope, write three to five words linked to that book. Children can then vote on the book they think sounds most appealing.
Make it a policy
Due to the advantages that reading can give, many schools have made ‘DEAR’ time (Drop Everything and Read) a policy across every classroom. Use this time to pick up a book yourself and be a reading role model to the rest of the class.