This past year I’ve worked really hard on expanding my classroom library and it has been so rewarding seeing my students grabbing books and excitedly flipping through the pages. Some of my students were already avid readers, so it wasn’t unexpected for them to be drawn to the ever-growing shelves, but what I’m most thrilled about are the reluctant readers, and even self-proclaimed non-readers picking up a book and actually enjoying the process.
How did I create this kind of reading magic? It was actually quite simple – promote reading for fun, and let students read what they want.
To do this, I knew the presence of a Pinterest-worthy classroom library with carefully organized books and knick-knacks wasn’t enough to pique some students’ interest (no matter how much it makes my teacher-heart happy to label and catalog). I needed to entice them to read by bringing the books to them.
Here are five activities I use in my classroom to introduce my students to new books and encourage a love of reading.
First Chapter Friday is an activity where the teacher plays an audiobook or reads aloud the first chapter of a book to entice students to want to read more. While the chapter is being read, students should be listening for enjoyment. While the focus should be on reading for reading’s sake, you can ask your students to doodle or sketchnote or provide them with low-risk worksheets during or after reading that encourage reflection and analysis. If you are looking for worksheets for your First Chapter Friday, you can check out my set of 20 graphic organizers here.
For this activity, ask students to find x-amount of books to stack on top of each other so that when the titles of the books on the books spines are read, it creates a poem. This is a great way to invite students to explore the classroom library and get a sense of what kinds of books there are. Even though this activity doesn’t require too much reading, other than the book titles, students may visit the bookshelves later on to read books with interesting titles that intrigued them.
Book Face is a social media trend that has been around for quite a few years now. It requires students to peruse the books in your classroom to find one that they can hold up to their face or other part of their body to appear as though they are an extension of the book cover. Through taking these Book Face photos, students get to explore the classroom library, appreciate the aesthetics of a good book cover, and incorporate media skills by considering how to set up their photo. This activity also gets everyone up and moving, which is a sure-fire way to create a memorable experience.
I first saw this activity on @mrsreganreads Instagram and knew I had to try it! I created a bracket system where eight groups received a stack of books to read the first line and choose the best one. Then the winning first lines from each of the eight groups faced off in the bracket system until we had one final best first line. This was such a fun and memorable way to introduce students to new books and entice them to read more. I knew that I would be enthusiastic about the whole process, but what really made it meaningful was seeing my students get excited about the activity too, commenting on how interesting, unusual, funny, and sentimental the first lines were.
Book Tastings are a way to transform your classroom into a cozy reading locale – a coffee shop, restaurant, or bakery for example, where students get to “sample” the books that are on the menu. Students can sample four or five books by previewing the cover, title, synopsis, and first page. The idea is that students can rate their books so that they can read their highest rated book for literature circles, book clubs, or independent study. Through the classroom transformation, you can add table cloths, posters with coffee or restaurant logos, and even play coffee shop inspired music on Youtube to create the right ambiance. This change in the usual classroom environment might just be what students need to get lost in the pages of a good book. If you’re looking for a Book Tasting kit with a bit of Canadian coffee flair, you can check out my “Tim Bookends” Book Tasting Kit here.