When you’re nine years old, what’s more exciting: a video game or a good book? Hopefully the book is an appealing option, but with flashing lights and cool gadgets as competition, an old-fashioned book isn’t always a student’s first choice. Children, especially struggling readers, are often attracted to media-rich components. So how can you help your students discover that books can come to life?
Making reading exciting for your students can be as easy as helping them find new ways to enjoy and make connections with the books they read. Try these tips that will not only help them understand books, but help bring them to life, too.
- Be detectives—If the book your class is reading is a mystery or has an intricate plot, such as Louis Sachar’s Holes, encourage your students to keep a notebook where they jot down clues or important events in the plot. Then as a class you can work on solving the mystery together.
- Make it interactive—Considering how quickly technology is advancing, today’s children are sometimes more familiar with computers than pens and paper. If children can connect to books through a medium they are familiar with, it’s one more way to strengthen their experience with and love for reading. Imagine Learning English, for example, offers well over one hundred interactive stories that students can experience through the computer. (Want to learn more? Click here!)
- Chow down—Whether it’s green eggs and ham to celebrate Dr. Seuss or butterscotch Krimpets in honor of Maniac Magee, food can definitely bring a book to life. Bringing in a dish mentioned in a book is a great way for students to make connections with the characters and relate with the story.
- Write away—Challenge your students to get creative by thinking up and writing down alternate endings to the story, whether it’s an ending they hoped for or a conclusion wackier than the author’s original. Afterwards, discuss the actual ending and why the author chose to end the book that way.
- Get artistic—Encourage students to bring the story to life through artwork. For example, you can have them illustrate a scene from the story, design a new book cover, or draw scenes depicting where the characters might be in a year.
- Act out—Whether it’s a simple Reader’s Theater or a full-blown class production, acting scenes out or reading aloud can help students connect with the text in an interactive way. This post on bringing difficult narrative to life offers some great, specific tips on Reader’s Theater.
- Give choices—If possible, let your students pick their own books to read and help them discover the variety of topics out there. Some of your students might love fantasy and fiction, but others might prefer books on how things work. Children have different interests, so if you can help them discover that there is a book for every interest, you can bring reading alive to them in a new way.