5 Ways to Encourage Independent Reading

Hi y'all! The SuperHERO Teacher here, taking over The Secondary English Coffee Shop blog for the week. I'm excited to discuss a topic that many teachers, including myself, struggle with-- convincing students to read independently.  For many students, reading becomes a chore.  They don't see the beautiful words on the paper, but rather the words on an inevitable worksheet that is soon to follow.  As ELA teachers, we have the opportunity to change that!  While you read this post, I'd like to propose a challenge: let's use independent reading as a reward, not a punishment.  Below, I'll provide 5 strategies to encourage independent reading so that students see it as a positive rather than a negative! 

Not only will your students begin reading independently, but they will also build relationships with students they may not know previously.  A book club within your classroom allows for students to choose a genre they are passionate about and discuss the novel with peers that have similar interests.  A book club can be a daunting task, though! Where do you begin? How do you choose the novels? Who will be in each group?  Since we are encouraging independent reading, why not give our students a choice in the novel and group they join? I've created a free resource to help you get started.  Simply click here to download the Classroom Book Club Organizer.

As we all know, our students LOVE to take selfies!  It's part of their daily routine, so why not use something they're familiar with to encourage independent reading? Shelfie is a free app that allows its users to upload pictures of their personal bookshelves, download free digital versions of books, AND check out other users' bookshelves, too!  It's a unique way to make reading popular to teens.  To use this in the classroom, I would suggest having students download the app and exchange user names so they can see what their peers' bookshelves look like. The Shelfie app will allow students to boast about reading choices while collaborating with other students, too!

Our students are motivated by rewards and many of them have busy schedules.  To encourage our students to take time from their schedules and read outside the classroom in their free time, we need to develop unique strategies.  One way to do this is to implement a reward system.  As a teacher, I KNOW you have a ton of paperwork, grading, and meetings to attend, so I've done the time-consuming part for you!  I've designed this free reward system in the form of a bookmark so that you can implement the system right away, with ZERO prep! Click here to download the bookmarks, print, laminate, and hand out to students.  It's super easy & it will foster independent reading.

Flexible seating is SO important.  With block scheduling and easily distracted teens, it's essential that we have a variety of different spaces in our classroom to refocus students.  On a teacher budget, creating a cozy reading nook in your classroom can be expensive.  It doesn't have to be, though!  Even placing an existing bookshelf with books from the thrift store paired with a rug and pillows will create a climate of relaxation (which is a perfect opportunity for independent reading).  Reading then becomes a reward.  Students will work harder to have time in the reading space, just so they can indulge in a good book!

Just because students are engaged in independent reading doesn't mean the learning process has to stop completely.  Allowing students to choose a novel they are interested in may actually foster a BETTER learning opportunity than if we forced them to read the same novel as their peers.  I've designed a variety of interactive focus lessons that can be distributed during independent reading time in order for students to master a skill as they read.  For example, if you want all of your students to learn characterization while simultaneously giving them choice in their novel selection, you could distribute the Characterization Focus Lesson that works with ANY novel, so that all students are learning the same skill.  Check out my bundle of focus lessons here.

Thank you for reading!  If you would like to share other ways to encourage independent reading in the classroom, be sure to leave a comment!  Looking for a whole unit that works for any book? Check out my workbook for any novel!

For more products that help with encouraging independent reading, look here:
-Book Talks: Independent Reading Assignment by Presto Plans
-The Novel: A Unit for Any Novel by The Daring English Teacher
-Novel Study Learning Stations for ANY Novel by Room 213
-15 Tips for Pulling Off Independent Reading by Secondary Sara

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