I LOVE to read! Learning to read and reading to learn are critical academic skills, but reading for pleasure is one of life’s greatest gifts that stretches far beyond classrooms. In many years of team-teaching 6th graders, I was responsible for reading & writing instruction while my colleague managed the math & science curriculum. We shared students and provided integrated lessons whenever possible. I felt overwhelmingly responsible for reading proficiency AND reading enjoyment. This is why we focused on independent reading skills and practice all year long. And this is why we celebrated February as “I Love to Read Month” every year. From tents in our classroom “campground” and reading with flashlights, to reading surrounded by the heavy curtains on our school stage, or connections with our Kindergarten reading buddies – we created simple, fun scenarios to read for fun and encouraged students to read.
This blog post is not shared to provide “I Love to Read” month history or resources – it’s offered as a reminder that reading enjoyment is a skill teachers must strive to support. Promoting the love of reading in even one focused event or activity, could provide a magical spark for a student who has never felt the need to read.
The feeling of “needing to read” is something we must nurture, by providing practice and engagement in order to experience a true connection that fosters the feeling. So how exactly do we teach feelings? By direct instruction, creating awareness, and planning opportunities to engage and practice those feelings in school and life.
It’s “I Love to Read” Time!
To achieve “reading enjoyment” as a learning objective, teachers and schools can offer a special project in the month of February with a focus on independent reading and the feelings of fun associated with reading for pleasure. But it can be also be just time – dedicating precious instructional minutes for students to experience the quiet escape and satisfaction of following characters and a plot outside their normal world of home and school.
- Time to share a book with someone else – reading and discussing a book chosen together.
- Time to read a picture book out loud to experience pure joy of the interesting sounds and images woven together to create a story.
- Time to notice how it feels to start a new book you’ve just chosen for yourself.
- Time to notice how it feels to remember the plot point you had to leave bookmarked and how you long to return to read what’s next.
- Time to think, predict, wonder what possible plot sequence will unfold.
- Time to experience the feeling of finishing a book, coming to the end of the commitment you gave to this one book at this time.
- Time to reflect and think about the themes or lessons you can carry forward in your life because you read this book at this time.
- Time to recommend a book you love to someone else, who “needs to read” it.
- Time to celebrate reading enjoyment and to honor the feeling that “I need to read.”
We simply can’t take reading enjoyment for granted or consider it beyond our instructional scope and practice. In fact, independent reading that leads to reading enjoyment might be the most powerful skill you teach throughout a school year. Teachers of any subject and all grade levels can and should add it to their lesson plans. “I Love to Read” month is one way to engage with this lifelong literacy goal – February is a time to focus and connect with others who share that goal for all students.
At the beginning and the end of this instructional planning – ask yourself these questions:
- “Do I feel the need to read?”
- “When do I feel the need to read?”
- “Why do I feel the need to read?”
Once you have the answers for yourself, you recognize its importance for all your students. It starts with intention, adding in a little focus (like “I Love to Read” month), and ends with each of us seeking reading for ourselves.
Teachers, bring out the books! It’s “I Love to Read” time!
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