Spark new learning. Appeal to Primary grades students' interests and learning styles. Incorporate a variety of instructional practices that embrace multiple forms of literacy and multiple sources of information, and include student choice. Instructional practices do not need to revolve around skills and strategies when it comes to the why of reading; students' interests should be the starting point for reading instruction.
Build connections. Topics and reading materials that bridge students' personal lives with their school lives increase their motivation for reading. Make a connection. Look for literature that addresses topics that are relevant to the subject and to your students' reality.
Go beyond the print. Motivate students to read by encouraging them to make a connection to popular movies based on the literature. Explore ways to promote reading through iPods, iPads, and Kindles.
Incorporate a variety of texts. Young students may consider the materials in most traditional school settings uninteresting and constrictive. Include a variety of appropriate, authentic young adolescent literature, including graphic novels, newspapers, and magazines.
Expand choices and options. Provide a platform for and encourage students to be agents of their own learning. Gather a variety of adolescent literature to accompany, support, enrich, and extend topics across all content areas. Include all literary genres and varying readability levels.
When students have a choice of what to read, they will make additional and deeper connections to the topic of study. In addition, each student will have a slightly different experience based on the literature selected. Lively discussions, writings, and re-enactments will increase motivation, engagement, and achievement.
For example, if you are studying immigration, gather several narratives about the immigration experience, introduce each book in great detail, and allow students to select the book that most interests them. If their interest is piqued and they can self-select their narrative, students feel empowered, become excited to read, and look forward to sharing their reading experiences with others. Students' learning soars to new heights!
Excite students about expository texts. When middle grades students believe they will learn something fascinating, they are motivated to read factual texts. When they have choice and their personal interests are met through their factual text choices, they are more motivated to read.
Build a classroom library that includes a wide range of nonfiction that naturally links to science, math, social studies, and the arts, and include varying readability levels. Encourage cover-to-cover reading, independent supplemental research, or read-alouds.
Promote conversations. Primary grades learners love to talk, so establishing literature-rich learning environments that capitalize on activities and provide time for talk supports students' strengths, interests, and desires. Structuring the academic day to incorporate meaningful, purposeful opportunities for students to talk about books enhances their engagement.
Answering the Why
Primary grades students who are motivated and engaged in their reading increase their comprehension and improve their reading skills. This is a direct path to higher overall achievement and success inside and outside school. The few simple strategies outlined here can help engage students in their reading—and maybe you won't hear, "Why do we have to read this?"