Students have many choices when it comes to how they spend their leisure time—many spend it on gaming, social media and television. It’s hard to compete with some of these options, and some teachers may be wondering how to encourage kids to read more in their spare time.

Reading for fun benefits readers of all ages. South of the border, the U.S. Department of Education reports a direct correlation between leisure reading and reading scores, which provides Canadian teachers with valuable insight. Students who read recreationally outside of school achieve higher scores in math, too. For younger students, being read to is the most effective way to build vocabulary. Older students can enhance time management skills and gain a better understanding of the world around them. Even teachers can benefit— curling up with a good book can provide stress reduction, improved focus and stronger analytical-thinking skills. If you’re looking for tips on motivating students to read, here are some ideas you can implement in the classroom.

Motivating students to read

Think there’s no time for a recreational read? Think again. Motivating students to read will be easier with these tips:

  • Read aloud daily: Regardless of a student’s age, reading aloud provides benefits. For younger children, it whets their appetite for reading, increases their attention span and widens their vocabulary. For early readers, the level at which they listen may be higher than the level that they can read—this can both motivate and excite a learner about reading. Even high-school aged students can benefit. In an interview, Jim Trelease, educator and author of Read-Aloud Handbook says, “Most of the material kids read in school, no one would read for pleasure. And if all your reading is tied to work, you develop a sweat mentality to reading, so by the time you graduate you can’t wait to stop reading.” Reading aloud can make lifetime readers out of “school-time” readers.
  • Hold a read-a-thon: Whether you dedicate an afternoon or an entire day, a read-a-thon can be a great way to build excitement about reading. Bring in snacks, provide a variety of reading materials, and even invite a guest author or local celebrity who can read aloud to your class. Encourage students to bring their favourite comfy seating arrangements (stability balls, cushions, pillows and blankets). You could even allow pajamas for the day. Consider handing out prizes for participation—magnetic bookmarks, book lights and pencils are appropriate choices.
  • Start a book club: Consider hosting a book club or reading group. Participants can meet over lunch or after school to discuss their latest read. Not only great for socialization, book discussions can deepen comprehension, too. Provide members with a school logo’d book tote and a journal where they can jot down their thoughts and craft their own book reviews.
  • Lead by example: If you’re wondering how to encourage kids to read, consider leading by example. Next time students are taking a test, pick up a book instead of grading papers. Talk to your class about what you’re reading, why you like it, and how you can’t wait for the next opportunity to read some more.

The benefits of reading are clear. We hope we’ve provided some helpful advice on how to encourage kids to read. Try one or more of these tips and watch students’ love for reading grow!

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