Helping Students Find More Time To Read
by TeachThought Staff
How can you find more time to read?
Better yet, how can you help students find more time to read?
Below, I’ve collected a few strategies. The big idea here is mindset and tone—the mindset of the reader and the general tone of how reading is framed in your classroom. What they read and why, and what they think and do as a result of their reading—it all fleshes out a context for literacy that can create lifetime book lovers.
Students, like teachers, are under enough pressure as it is. This means that making it a contest may result in more books read, but may not create the ‘reader’ you’re hoping to create.
Pressuring students to ‘read more’? No.
Helping student see themselves as readers and thus compel themselves to read more for more authentic and personal reasons? Yes. A lot of yes.
And this, in part, depends on the reader seeing reading as important, then having the time and available texts to make it work.
How To Help Students Find More Time To Read
1. Make reading a priority.
Just because it’s a priority doesn’t mean it has to consume everything else you do. But like all things in life, if it’s important to you, you’ll find a way to get it done—and if it’s not, you won’t.
2. Make reading a part of your daily routine.
See the above.
Whether it’s the first ten minutes of a bath, reading something other than social media during lunch, or on the bus, subway, Uber, or anything else you do on a regular basis, if you can somehow tie it to another routine, you lessen the workload of making it a routine—and a priority—as well.
3. Read in ‘bits and bursts.’
You may not always get to curl up on the couch or in a hammock while reading.
You may prefer to read on the beach or by the pool or without kids around or—well, you get the picture.
But if you can accept reading for five minutes here and twelve minutes there, you’re more likely to be successful in finding the time consistently. And note, mindset matters here. If you don’t truly embrace short bursts of reading, you could end up frustrated by it, which builds a negative feedback loop, makes reading inherently unsatisfying, and in general less sustainable on a daily basis.
If, however, you truly embrace this approach, it can become a kind of respite for you—and entirely satisfying to boot.
4. Use Audiobooks.
Audiobooks are a fairly polarizing idea—you either love them or loathe them.
This is, of course, also a matter of mindset. If you truly believe that you ‘have to have a real book,’ then nothing but a real book will suffice. If you hold that audiobooks ‘aren’t really reading,’ then you’re less likely to do it.
If you instead simply prefer one or the other but embrace literacy any way you can get it, then suddenly reading is possible while driving, jogging, at the gym, or anywhere else your earbuds can take you.
5. Use technology.
Smartphones and tablet readers like Kindle that sync across devices make it simple to start reading here, and finish reading over there.
As mentioned, audiobooks make reading more accessible than ever. (There are even drama-enhanced books—like a hybrid between a play, an audiobook, a book, and a movie—that take greater advantage of the modalities available in technology.)
6. Socialize the reading.
You can also make it social.
Of course it doesn’t have to be–you may prefer the solitude of reading on your own. The interaction between a reader and a text is its own kind of sacred, and bringing others into the experience can mar that.
But ‘reading socially’ can reinforce strong reading habits, build a sense of community, and add a new layer of meaning to text.
7. Visualize the reading.
In addition to socializing it, you can make it ‘visual.’
Make movie posters for books.
Gamify the reading.
Use reading for team-building.
Act out scenes in class.
Help them turn stories in videos.
Quantify their progress over time (in terms of reading levels, number of books read, a wall of fame for all the covers of the books they’ve read, etc.)