Reading is an essential skill. Yet many students at all levels of education struggle with literacy and reading comprehension. That’s why teachers are always working hard to improve their students’ reading skills.
In fact, teachers can instill passion and enthusiasm for reading in their students. The following activities explore ways to approach reading in the classroom.
Reading Activities for Kids
One way to encourage children to read is to include them in selecting the books they are going to read. This will help them stay engaged with books and encourage them to explore new titles.
“Stories for young children should be of all kinds — folktales, funny tales, exciting tales, tales of the wondrous and stories that tell of everyday things,” the U.S. Department of Education says in Reading Rockets. Finding books that produce excitement, humor or some other feeling is a top priority. “For children, reading must be equated with enjoying, imagining, wondering, and reacting with feeling. If not, we should not be surprised if they refuse to read.”
Teachers can let students choose books that are read in the classroom (usually from an established list of recommendations based on age, grade level or reading level). Teachers can also promote and encourage students to look for books they can read at home, such as by visiting the library, asking family and friends for suggestions, and looking at book reviews in newspapers or online.
Some of the best reading activities for kids involve ways to bring stories to life. Creative activities help make books more interactive and fun.
Teachers can explore using art to support ideas and concepts in books. Activities include looking at how illustrations relate to the book’s content, drawing characters and scenes from the story, coloring pictures, etc. Students can perform these tasks to put a creative spin on what they are reading, which will improve comprehension.
Teachers can also help students notice and understand graphics as they read, such as maps and charts. The educational publishing company Scholastic offers a few ways to support graphical literacy.
- Choose books with clear and persuasive graphics. When reading, discuss graphics and their meaning. Why did the illustrator choose this graphic device, and how does it add to the story?
- Have students create graphics and plan for their purposeful use in their writing. Let students give and receive feedback on the clarity, accuracy and impact of their graphics.
- Fill the walls of the classroom with a variety of graphics.
Journaling for Kids
Keeping a journal helps children record their thoughts, and encourages learning and sharing. By combing reading and writing, this activity builds skills in multiple areas of literacy.
Journaling can include recording students’ school or home activities, such as making a new friend or how they felt on the first day of school. Students can come up with their own ideas for journaling, or start a weekend journal that captures how they spend their time away from school. Students who travel can be encouraged to keep a trip journal for vacations, or even everyday outings that includes pictures of daily events.
Teachers can encourage students to share certain parts of their journals when or where appropriate. Or, teachers can create assignments or activities based on the journal, such as asking students what the most difficult part of keeping a journal is or exercises that will help students organize their stories.
Classroom games that exercise literacy skills can be a great way to motivate young readers. Education World offers a number of ideas from teachers.
- Scavenger Hunt. Separate the class into teams and hand each team a copy of the same book. Have teams find the page numbers that show certain events, people or objects, and then reward the winning team.
- Name That Book! After explaining the importance of a cover and title to a story, read a book to your students without sharing the title or showing them the cover. When you’re finished, have the children draw what they think the cover should be and provide what they think the title should be. You can then display the cover surrounded by the children’s covers.
- Where in the World? Let students choose from a United States or a world map. When a student reads a book that relates to a state or country, the student may color that state or country on the map. Relationships to a state or country include birthplace, setting for the book, where the story begins or if the book describes the location.
- Two Characters Meet. Have students write a story or play based on two characters from different books meeting each other. Members of the class can then act out the new story or play.
- Please Stand Up! In this courtroom-style game, each defendant (only one of whom has read a certain book) takes turns being questioned individually, and the three jurors vote on who they feel has read the book. The judge then asks the real reader to “please stand up.”
Cultivating a Love for Reading
Teachers play a significant role in how children approach reading and literacy. By finding ways to encourage children to enjoy reading, teachers can build a firm foundation of reading that will last a lifetime.
Southeastern University offers online education degrees that help teachers make a greater impact in students’ lives and education. Programs such as the online Master of Education in Reading Education and the online Master of Education in Elementary Education focus on literacy skills. They take place in a flexible and convenient online learning environment.