Friday, April 21, 2017

Quick Tip for Engaging Readers in Conversations About Books

A few years back, I wrote a blog post dedicated to Donalyn Miller's Reading In the Wild: The Book Whisperer's Keys to Cultivating Life Long Reading Habits. In the post, I composed the following paragraph: 
If we truly want to influence students to be lifelong readers, we must find the time to become wild readers ourselves. We must model the habits of wild readers and share our reading excitement and experiences with students. Most teachers ask students to read at home on a daily basis, but don't read themselves, or share their own excitement about books with students. If you have excuses for why you don't read, so will students. The point being, we must *practice what we preach* to our students.
It makes sense, right? Being a wild reader means you make time for reading because it's a source of pleasure. As a Reading Specialist, sharing my fondness of reading with my students is a must. If you've read either of Miller's books in the image below, you're familiar with what Miller calls *reading in the edges of your day*. It's taking advantage of small moments in your day to read. These are the moments I crave knowing I rarely get large blocks of time for reading. No matter the obligations, reading minutes can be found throughout the day, only if you are dedicated to finding time. So that's what I do. That way, I have lots of books to recommend to or discuss with students!
Here is a simple but effective idea you can start implementing in your classroom straightaway. Share what you are reading with your students. Easy enough, right? Talk about the reasons you chose a particular book, parts you enjoyed or things you noticed. To do this, I've attached a sign in the entryway of my classroom with an image of a book next to the words, What is Mrs. Noffsinger reading? This helps to spark conversations about what I'm reading, in hopes students will share what they are reading or interested in reading. 
As a result of my book addiction, consistently having new titles in hand to share with the kids is commonplace. I score great deals via Amazon Prime and while hunting for titles at book fairs, garage sales and thrift stores. Of course, there's always the library where everything is FREE. Making sure to have the actual copy of the book on hand is essential, so students see it's not just an image being placed on the sign. It's a book that's actually being read AND enjoyed!  
It's also of value to vary the books being placed on the sign. Similar to a *book tasting*, I want students to have opportunities to view new titles, hear about them, as well as read some of them. I have a wide range of readers, so sometimes I share a picture book, while other times novels. The novels range from elementary level all the way to adult level. I also make sure to read a variety of genres, just as students should. 

Not all of the books on the sign are for students because that's not my reading life, which I'm trying to convey. I doubt my students would want to read Who's Doing the Work? by Burkins and Yaris, but I loved it. This idea possesses other disguised motives, as you can see. Nonetheless, my child-appropriate books can be checked out to the kids when requested. Bonus Tip: Encourage any and all self-motivated reading behaviors! Below are a few examples of books I've placed on the doorway.
J.K. Rowling has said, "Wherever I am, if I've got a book with me, I have a place I can go and be happy." I see eye to eye with her on this one. Reading takes me far from the little stresses that can surface throughout a day's happenings. It allows me time to unwind and offers opportunities to explore new worlds I have yet to experience. I am always seeking new adventures from fictional books or knowledge from informational books. I am known as a motivated readerIf we want our students to be motivated readers, teachers must get excited about reading. Start the trend by sharing the excitement of your reading life! 
How do you engage your readers? 

Happy Friday!


  1. What a great idea! I am going to implement this right away :-)
    I have read Donalyn Miller's books as well as Who's Doing the Work. I love reading inspirational professional books too!
    Thanks for sharing and inspiring me!
    Teaching Tips and Treasures

    1. Thanks so much for reading, Elizabeth! Hope the kids enjoy hearing about your reading life. ;)


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