Promoting Reading

As part of the library teaching program in my current school, the English teachers bring their classes to the learning centre for one period (35-40 mins) a week.

We run a reading program during this lesson, which generally involves silent reading, borrowing and time to log information on books read (students fill out a sheet for each book read as evidence of their reading). The subject is reported on, so students are required to read at least one book per term and encouraged to read many more. An important component of our lessons, however, is the promotion of reading.

We do this in several ways:

  • discussions on specific genres to increase student awareness of the variety of literary genres available to them – we only ever focus on one genre per lesson
  • promotion of new books, series
  • book trailers (and occasionally movie trailers based on books)
  • book readings
  • displays
  • library promotion videos (pop songs reinvented for the library)
  • assisted borrowing
  • instructions on accessing e-book collections from local libraries

In theory, I love the idea of this program. Reading is so important to developing literacy, vocabulary, imagination, knowledge and, in our highly digitised world, is also a great way to disconnect and still find entertainment! I thoroughly enjoy watching students get pleasure from reading.

I also find it disheartening  when students make minimal effort to find a book that is of interest to them. My greatest difficulty with this program is matching reluctant readers to books with which they can engage. Whilst this may be in part due to the fact that I need to practice my ‘interview’ techniques, I think it also stems largely from the students either not really knowing what they would enjoy reading or being unable to articulate it. It is also difficult to convince a teen who does not like reading, or is not a confident reader, to engage with and value books. I’d love to find a magical answer.

From my experience, those students who are already hooked on reading once they reach high school, have been ‘readers’ for a long time – their reading is (and has been) encouraged and nurtured by their parents or carers and previous teachers. But how to engage the non-readers? Keep trying. Keep promoting. Repeat the mantra, ‘if you don’t enjoy reading, you are reading the wrong books’!

I keep track of my professional and teaching resources on my (relatively new) Pinterest account. My growing compilation of resources on this topic can be accessed via my pin board on ‘Promoting Reading‘.

Meanwhile, I will continue to play my part with my 5 and 2 year old by reading to them nightly (and whenever they ask me to!), taking them to local libraries, filling our house with books, limiting their time with technology, using technology to show them e-books and to listen to audiobooks, and of course letting them see me enjoy reading. I have every intention of instilling that love of reading, as from my experience, it is best to start early.

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