By: Tiffany Wincek, Accounts Specialist.

Many view a new year as time for a fresh start and resolution-making. Whether you are starting a new month, a new semester, or an entirely new school year, January is a great time to put the classroom focus back on reading. Here are a handful of ways to resolve to read in the classroom.

Let Students Choose

School libraries and media centers are full of resources, but sometimes it takes a push or twelve to get young readers to take advantage of all that libraries have to offer. The payoff is great, though, so make time to reintroduce your classes to your school library. Use the opportunity to review both print and digital resources, and go with one mission in mind: each student should leave having checked out a book of his or her choice. Students are more likely to read a text they’ve chosen for themselves!

Make it visual

Consider creating trackers to help your students visualize their progress. This applies to nearly every grade level. I was always astounded by how motivated my older students were by stickers. Keep in mind that some students may be self-conscious about their progress; if so, individual trackers help maintain privacy. You can also keep a larger tracker to record all of the books read by an entire class. Either way, trackers help students visualize their progress toward a goal.

Create a Reading Scavenger Hunt

Start the new year with a classroom activity in which students make their own reading scavenger hunts. Have students choose an appropriate number of texts to read based on the estimated length of the scavenger hunt (a few months or extending through the rest of the school year). The lists can include challenges like:

Read a book published in the year you were born.
Read a book set in a location you’d like to visit.
Read a book from a genre you haven’t read before.
Read a book with a terrible cover.
Read a book you’ve already read and loved.

Get creative with the challenges and have students collaborate to generate ideas!

Pro-tip: Use one of the aforementioned trackers to map scavenger hunt progress.

Use Picture Books

Picture books are treasures, but they’re often overlooked in middle school and high school classrooms. Whether they admit it or not, most young adults still like to listen to someone else read. It’s entertaining, but it also helps students gain fluency. Find a picture book with a theme that ties to another piece of literature you’re reading in class. Gather the class for a story, use a document camera to project the title so everyone can appreciate the artwork, and follow up with a conversation about how the two texts are linked.

Pro-tip: There are many wonderful teacher blogs that track themes in picture books.

Open the Conversation

Do you like to talk about books? If so, do you talk about them with your friends in the same way you ask students to talk about books? Life-long readers love conversing about what they’ve read because it doesn’t come with the pressure of three-to-five-pages essays or multiple choice tests. Encourage open discussion about classroom texts and the books students are reading for pleasure. A sincere five-minute conversation is often more valuable than a pop quiz.

Pro-tip: Check out our Digital Book Club activity guide on the Resource Center.

Embrace Page to Screen

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take a group of ninth grade students to see Jurassic World after we’d read Jurassic Park in class. It’s one of my favorite memories from my teaching career. It seems like every month brings another book that’s been adapted for the big screen. Use this to your advantage! Whether you read a book in class and head to the theater to watch it later or just watch a few clips in class, movies grab students’ attention and can open up richer dialogue.

Display a Featured Title

Use a bulletin board to feature a weekly book recommendation from a student. Include the title and author next to the book’s cover and a short review from the student recommender. You or the student could share the recommendation just before a trip to the library or silent reading time.

Pro-tip: Did you know you can also add a Featured Title to your OverDrive-powered website? Ask your Account Specialist for more information.

Resolve to Read…and be seen doing it

Little eyes are always watching, so it’s important to establish yourself as a reading role model. If you practice sustained silent reading in your classroom, make sure you’re taking part and not using the quiet time to catch up on grading or other tasks. Teachers are always ridiculously busy, but this resolution is one that benefits both you and your students.

Happy New Year and happy reading!