The one about creating a reading classroom community

I can’t say I understand it, but I do acknowledge not all students are avid readers. Ever since I started teaching, my goal has been to find the book for every student in my reading classroom. The *best* compliments I’ve gotten are from students who “don’t like reading,” but “I like it with you, Mrs. Veise.” I’m determined to be Miss Malarkey from Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind. Life goals: be the Yoda of reading to my students.

Students and teacher reading Ten ways to build a reading community in your classroom
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There are lots of ways to create a reading classroom community. Here are my top TEN strategies.

  1. Read. Duh, I know, but hear me out. Plan for read aloud time and fit in more books whenever possible. We have a novel to read aloud daily, but I often fit in picture books for SEL or community meeting times. Themed months are excuses to introduce even more books. For example, during Black History Month in February, I read a page from 28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World. I love finding books on Epic or in the classroom library that fit our science or social studies topics. The more I make reading a priority, the more my students see how important it is.
  2. Find out what your students like. We do a whole class reading inventory, which I shared in my first week plans, and I find out what types of books my students like using this free inventory I found on TpT. Both inventories are important because the whole group starts a conversation around reading and the individual gives students space to communicate with me.
  3. Get them books they’ll like. My old school was a soccer school. The kids were always playing soccer, so I had lots of soccer sports books. When I came to my current school, I had a group of boys who were obsessed with basketball. Darn it. ? I did some research and found them some basketball books. These boys, who had declared they weren’t readers, devoured those books. Plus, they started trusting me more when it came to books. You don’t have to spend a fortune every time you need new books. If you need to build up that classroom library without breaking the bank, check out this post.
  4. Organize your library by genre & series/popular authors. You know you have books your students like, but if they can’t find them, what’s the point?? This doesn’t mean I never show my students where a book is or do a deep dive to find something they’ll like. It does mean when a kid comes to me saying, “I like the Land of Stories, do you have more like that?” Now I can direct them to the fantasy bin. I also color code with tiny dot stickers to help students know where books belong.
  5. Book talks. These can come from you or another student. Whenever I have a new haul of books, I love to share them out before just throwing them into the bins of my library. I read title, author, back of the book, and tell the genre. Once I’ve developed a pattern, students will request to share books (or have me share) a really good book they like.
  6. Bookshelf Buzz display: Students can nominate a book to be highlighted on a bulletin board. I’ve found out about awesome books this way. Similar to a book talk, I write out the title, author, genre, and a one-sentence summary/review from the student to highlight a popular find.
  7. First Chapter Friday: This is an IG idea I found a few years ago from @hansonhallway. Once we started doing these, it was such an important part of our Friday, that if I forgot, my students would mutiny. Basically, I pick out a book, read aloud the first chapter, and then auction it off using a ticket raffle. The raffle makes it infinitely more exciting. Only students who are interested put their names in. To fit this in, we do a shorter community meeting on Fridays, or students respond to our morning message using sticky notes instead of a full class discussion.
  8. Give independent reading time. I make independent reading a rotation almost every other day. It’s a given on library days because they usually have a new book to dive into. I make sure they know they have this time because reading a book you choose is important!
  9. Check in. Since my independent reading time is also small group time, I can’t always check in. I’ll ask what they’re reading before and after. Students WANT to talk to you, so when they know you want to know what they’re reading, they’ll start bringing books to you and sharing them with you, even when you’re not asking.
  10. Read. This time I mean YOU read. And let kids know what you’re reading. Depending on appropriateness, I’ll share more about some books than others. Plus if I’m reading an upper elementary book for them, they need to know! I also share my Goodreads goal with them so they know I read A LOT, on my Kindle, through the Libby app (library app for audiobooks & ebooks), and physical books.

This is a LOT of ideas. Choose one or two you can implement this month. Then maybe add another layer of a reading community in your classroom. And then another. You’ll start to see how your reactions and feelings about books permeate through your whole classroom.

Stack of three books with tickets on top
These are a few of my First Chapter Friday books with our tickets. Similar tickets from Amazon.
Bookshelf Buzz Display
This was my “Bookshelf Buzz” display. I used an old chalkboard with chalkboard markers and some bees I had from an old display. This was one I used to start off the year.
Book Recommendation for Bookshelf Buzz

This is the recommendation form I stuck with the display. I printed it on bright color paper so it would stand out when kids turned it in. Right click to save this image to print!

Have you ever used morning messages? I built in some book conversations in these to add to keep us talking about reading and books all day. Grab a free set here!

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