10 Ways Teachers Kill a Love of Reading

We used to do our reading block in the morning, every day, but our library time was scheduled on Thursday afternoons.

So, in the morning, I worked so hard to foster a love of reading. And then on Thursday afternoons, we came back from library and I told my kids to put their new books away because it was math time.

The books they had just searched through the library to pick.

The books they were so excited to read.

And I made them immediately put it inside their desks or backpacks.

What was I thinking???

It wasn’t until I read The Book Whisperer that I realized exactly what I was doing. I was taking a moment full of book excitement, and I squashed it like a bug.

So instead, I started building in ten minutes in our schedule. We still had to fit math in- but I could lose ten minutes once a week if it meant giving my kids a moment to dive into their new books.

To make this time even more special? I brought in a book I was reading (or snagged one from the library I’d been meaning to read) and settled into a comfy spot on the floor to read with my kids.

You should’ve seen the looks on my students’ faces!

They were shocked. They were so used to me using our reading time to pull guided reading groups or confer with individuals, so for me to sit down and read with them was really surprising. But I instantly had kids gather around me, wanting to see what I was reading, or even just read “with” me (especially when I taught 2nd graders!)

It was a great time to not just tell them I’m a reader- but to show it and model it!

Ten minutes a week is a small price to pay for building excitement about reading.

Other ways I see teachers kill a love of reading?

kill a love of reading

  • Limiting kids to a certain reading level
    Oh, you’re interested in this? I don’t care. It’s not the right level.
  • Not letting kids choose their own books
    Imagine going to the library and someone picking your books for you.
  • Turning reading into worksheets about reading
    No matter how great a worksheet is, it can’t compare to real reading.
  • Not getting new and interesting books in the classroom library
    You need books your kids want to read. And if you “have enough books,” you probably don’t have the latest books. Bringing in new ones through the year builds more excitement, too!
  • Telling kids they can’t read ahead
    I always tell them they can- because, really, do I want them to stop reading a book when they’re dying to go on? They just aren’t allowed to give spoilers.
  • Requiring a reading log of homework minutes
    You never want to have kids looking at the clock, counting the seconds until they can stop reading.
  • Limiting reading to “real” books
    Graphic novels, websites, magazines, etc. are just as valuable as a book with a spine… and sometimes more. Reading is worthwhile- period.
  • Skipping the read aloud as kids get older
    Reading aloud is important for so many academic reasons, but it’s also one of the biggest ways to let kids just fall in love with books… and we can’t take that away! Make sure read alouds aren’t just for explicit lessons, but also just for the joy of reading (and introducing kids to wonderful books and series!)
  • Test Prep
    Need I say more?

If you’re not sure how you’re killing the kids’ love of reading, just listen for the moans and groans, and look for the times your kids are excited about their books. How can you build on those moments, and how can you create more?

Over at my blog today, I’m sharing some ways foster a love of reading. I’d love for you to come over to Luckeyfrog Learning and share your ideas!

jennybuttontitle

11 comments

  1. I stopped requiring reading logs after I read The Book Whisperer. I still require 30 minutes of reading a night, but I keep track of what my students are reading by using Status of the Class, another idea I got from Donalyn Miller. Students each share with the class what they are reading and the page they are on either as a discussion post online or with the class. This year I added a graphic novel basket to my classroom library, and it is usually half empty.

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  2. I love this blog post, and agree with everything you have written. As a librarian I see students every day who see reading as a chore and do not get any pleasure from reading a book. I especially think that limiting students to only a certain level of book or not allowing them to choose their own reading material is a big cause of this. Not that I want students to read something way above their level, I still teach the five finger rule. But students need to be able to have some choice.

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    Replies
    1. Your comment just made me google the five finger rule (I had never heard of it before) and I think it's a great one. I think I'm going to start using it as guidance with my ESL students. Great tip - Tanks!

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    2. I also agree with this blog and use the five finger rule. My one question ~ as a librarian, do you find that students get books they really can't/don't want to read and then return to the library daily to "exchange" books? I believe there are those who do and teachers who allow it to get kids out of the room. How can we improve this situation?

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  3. I still read aloud with my 5th graders getting ready to head to middle school soon. I add funny voices, use tons of expression and find that I sink in to the book as deeply as my students. Worksheets ? Not when I can do a game, sandbox, or other tactile experience ! Great post, Jenny !

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  4. Great point about continuing read aloud when kids get older. I loved reading from the beginning, but I'm not sure I ever would have branched out from the Baby Sitter's Club if my 5th grade teacher hadn't introduced me to great literature through reading aloud. I still remember many of the titles she read to us, and they continue to be some of my favorites.
    Not very fancy in 1st

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  5. I love the idea of sitting and reading with them! I am going to try and build this into my lessons when I start teaching about stamina! Great post:)

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  6. What a terrific blog post Jenny with important messages and great ideas. I am going to share it with all of the teachers in our FB groups in Australia :)
    Kylie
    http://ripperresources.blogspot.com.au/

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  7. Great blog post and list. I have to rein myself in with regards to 'school' reading, it's seen purely as a box-ticking exercise in that all children are expected to progress through the levels in a fairly methodical fashion (which I guess does make sense). My daughter finds the books boring (because she's developed her own natural love of books and reading through us reading for fun and leisure not exclusively for learning or school) - if they were her only means of introduction to reading, it could easily have turned her into a reluctant reader.

    The other slightly annoying aspect has nothing to do with school per se. Some parents are ultra competitive and will push their kids hard just so that their kids are extensively further on in their reading. Again you can't help thinking that this is going to ultimately turn kids away from reading for fun at a stage when competition of this type really isn't required (tiger mums notwithstanding - sure if you want your kid to gain a PHD by the time they hit ten, more power to you but if you completely close off reading for leisure and fun to them, I just can't condone that I'm afraid!)

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  8. I teach first grade and hear more and more about teachers who assign a written response after completing reading homework!! I think this should be on your list of "ways to kill a love of reading". It has killed it for my niece. Thankfully, my own children haven't had that assigned yet. I think I would have to argue it.

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  9. It's interesting how we have to sneak love of reading, the ONLY thing we will (or should) teach them in school that they will benefit from every day of their lives, into a curriculum jammed with stuff that will be out of date in 10 years. Meanwhile we also kill the love of math in the same ways as reading, by conducting classrooms as if math is an isolated subject instead of teaching it as a way of thinking in every area of lively endeavor.

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