Priming the Pump for Reading Inspiration
Several months ago, there was a BIG celebration. A celebration that as a school principal I’ve been a part of for many years. What’s that celebration, you ask? Well…it was the celebration of Dr. Seuss’s Birthday – which, for most, is really a celebration of reading.
The beauty of this event for most of the schools in the US is that everyone is primed for it! This happens through great sites on the web like Seussville.com and NEA.org. Everyone is in on the act, especially at the elementary school level. Kids running around with red and white striped hats, doors decorated with Dr. Seuss characters, and maybe even a school assembly.
The problem is that when all the dust settles and the day is over, the reading doldrums set back in. I can say this from experience as I’ve witnessed it myself in schools where I’ve been the principal.
So…how do we keep the pump primed for reading? Primed for the inspiration that reading can bring to our schools and classrooms?
Here are three reminders to support you in keeping the inspiration for reading alive!
1) Read Aloud Everyday
No matter what grade level, kids love to be read to! I was a big proponent of this as a teacher and as a principal. As a teacher, my grade level team had “Reading Aloud” as a daily activity in our lesson plans, no matter what. We planned a time that seemed to work best for our grade level. Sometimes it was after recess, after lunch or as a transition activity– but we did it faithfully every day. The book might have been part of the week’s lesson focus. Other times, it was a book that the class had chosen. Regardless of how the book was selected, this “Reading Aloud” time was a welcome, relaxing, inspiring time of the day for our classrooms. As a principal, I promoted “read alouds” by setting dates with my teachers to come into their rooms and read to their classes every day. My teachers and I loved this and so did the students. It modeled the importance of reading for our kids, and it helped them to see the principal as an active reader.
2) Do D.E.A.R. Everyday
D.E.A.R. stands for Drop Everything and Read. D.E.A.R. was once a prominent daily activity, before standards and test scores began to dominate our time. But D.E.A.R. doesn’t have to take much time. Setting aside a regular time, even 10 minutes, wherein kids can read silently everyday is still seen as a critical support to reading success. And before you say that it can’t be done, know that it can. Even your non-readers will benefit from this activity. You can pair them with a friend, take time to read with them, or have them follow along silently with an audio book. However you do it, it will continue to prime the pump to inspire reading as an important time in your daily classroom routine.
3) Celebrate Reading Every Month
Read Across America is typically a day filled with tons of celebrations. So, why wait till one day in March? Why not set a monthly time to celebrate the joy of reading? It can be as simple as asking a co-teacher to read to your class, having parents sign up to read, or even having community members to come to your class and read aloud once a month. Get a room parent to organize it – or, if your students are older, they can be the ones to schedule the monthly reader and celebration. Get parents to volunteer to bring a simple, healthy snack to make the monthly celebration a little more festive. Advertise it in your class newsletter, website, or with your local media. You might even get a local shop owner to sponsor the monthly event! As a principal, I completely supported the idea of hosting ongoing reading celebrations at my schools. I’m sure your principal will also be an enthusiastic supporter.
As a former principal, I share these three suggestions because it’s easy in our daily work as educators to get caught up with the business of standards, lessons and tests. And even though those things have an important place in our work, when we are busy with all the daily commitments, we forget about the beauty that reading a great book for pleasure can bring. Not only to ourselves, but to the students that we serve.
So…let the daily reading rituals begin! Let your classroom reading times be the pump that primes daily reading inspiration!