Encourage Reading With Student Book Reviews

I love nothing more than hearing that a student loved the book they just read.  It is music to my ears when a student asks me if I know any other books like the one they just finished, because they are excited to keep reading.   As an ELA teacher and librarian, I work hard to help students find the right book... my only concern when I am helping a student, is to find a book that they will enjoy and hopefully read all the way through.  I do not worry about the level, how many pages it is, whether it is non-fiction or fiction - I only worry about whether I think I have matched a great book with the right student.

One of the best ways to encourage reading with my students is to have students chat with each other about what they are reading.  Nothing can inspire a student to read a book more, than when a friend or classmate tells them enthusiastically about a fantastic book.  If we are doing an independent novel study I give my class time to chat with each other about what they are reading - nothing formal, just a few minutes to share with someone new what they are reading.  When we are doing Lit Circles, where I have groups reading different novels, I create a quick jigsaw rotation so that students get to hear about the books that others have read.

My students have really enjoyed the books that they have read this year and so I created a template for a BOOK REVIEW POSTER.  It is short and sweet and does not take the students long to complete. I display the posters around my classroom and library as a way to encourage others to sign out the books.  Grab a FREE DIGITAL VERSION or a FREE PRINT VERSION!

Remarkably these little posters work! Students love seeing what other students have read and are encouraged to read the books that I have reviews for.  Next year I am planning to create a more permanent way of displaying student book reviews - I'll be sure to keep you posted!.

Another way I promote books and reading, is that I always share what I am reading with my students.  I give a quick book talk when I read something new and often encourage specific students to read if I think it will appeal to them.  This has been a great way to connect with students over the years.

Tips and Tricks
- Always read when the students are reading.  I know you could be grading, cleaning up or doing one of the million other things you have going on, but nothing is more powerful than modeling reading.

- Do a quick display of what the teachers at your school are reading! Give the staff a copy of the Book Review Template and have a teacher display!

- Have a wide range of books - diversity matters!  A wide range of fiction and non-fiction, magazines, newspapers, even old textbooks may appeal!  The more you have available, the more likely someone is to find something they like.

-In order to keep some of the momentum for reading going over the summer, I'm going to allow students to sign out three books over the summer. I have never tried this before and I am optimistic that some kids will take me up on the offer and very optimistic that the books will be returned at the start of the school year.

Popular Titles With My Students
Some of the books that have really taken off this year in the library and in my classroom are listed below.  They are not necessarily the newest books, but they are the books that have resonated with my students.
Bear Town - Fredrik Backman
Boy 21 - Mathew Quick 
Dear Martin - Nic Stone
The Declaration - Gemma Malley
Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell
The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas
Invincible - Vince Papale
Juice - Eric Walters
Long Way Down - Jason Reynolds
Moon At Nine - Deborah Ellis
The Smell of Other People's Houses - Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
Son of the Mob - Gordon Korman
A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini
We Are All Made of Molecules - Susin Nielsen

Happy Reading!

For more book suggestions or to read how I run Lit Circles in my classroom check out this blog post!

Also check out this fun Book Shelfie Activity from Tracee Orman - it's another great way to promote reading among your students.

Nouvelle ELA also has a great (FREE!) activity for Book Talks!

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