I cannot overemphasize how much the teacher needs to support the free choice reading program in order to build student motivation. It’s a huge condemnation of the lack of fun reading in our education system that the majority of my students are so reluctant to enter into reading every class for a few minutes.
There are many ways to support the program and build interest in reading. Today in class, I asked everyone to share their favorite reading material/book of the year. It was a wonderful, quick way to see what is popular among the level 1 students (By the way, it was pretty consistently Craig Klein Dexemple’s 2 illustrated novels El Ratón Pablito and La Familia de Frederico Rico).
I also noticed that a few folks in class changed their novels to titles that other students had recommended today. In fact, one student in the show choir band heard another show choir student recommend Ben Lev’s biography of Carlos Santana, the famous guitarist and songwriter, and picked that up.
Seeing that organically happen, and knowing their shared interest of show choir/show choir band, just made my day. It was a great affirmation that what is truly needed to make a reading program work is intrinsic motivation. And that book sharing among peers in class is a fantastic browsing strategy to naturally increase student interest in your library, ultimately leading to happier reading, and more lifelong learners!