elementary

8 Ideas to Get Kids Reading

Visiting our new children's library in Little Rock.
Visiting our new children’s library in Little Rock.

“How do we get kids interested in reading?”

I hear teachers say it all the time, and it makes me sad. Instead of focusing on entertaining the few kids who don’t enjoy reading, why don’t we engage the kids who DO enjoy reading? Their enthusiasm may prove contagious. Create opportunities for them to interact with the written word and then ask them to comment on it, or to recreate it in their own way. Then, encourage the other kids to join in or to view the finished product. Here are just a few ideas to help you get started:

8 Ideas to Get Kids Reading

1. Start a book club. (duh!) Encourage them to choose the books so they feel more invested and less like it’s assigned homework.

2. Start a book review blog. Each kid takes turns writing a book review and they post it on the site for other kids to see.

3. Invite authors to visit or Skype with your group/class/kids. Big time authors might be too expensive/busy, but indie authors and first time authors are often eager to connect with readers and happy to help. (Raises hand to volunteer!)

4. Throw a book themed party. Send invitations with a free book or a link to the book online and ask kids to read it before coming to the party. Plan games around the theme and have a contest or two. You could even ask them to dress up like their favorite character or choose a side to represent (aka Team Edward/Team Jacob, etc.) Here’s an example of a book party we hosted.

5. Host a book swap and invite kids to bring a book they love to share with friends. Everyone goes home with a new book to read!

6. Organize a writing club to encourage young authors to keep writing what they love. It could be poetry, songwriting, fiction, fan-fic, comics, a mini-magazine, or even a group newspaper. If you’re writing books, try CampNanowrimo. At the young writer’s program website, you can find all kinds of resources to help you teach/lead a group of young writers as they try to tackle the goal of writing a book.

7. Host an open mic night or other reading event where kids can share their creative efforts with others. This would be a great way to end a series of writing lessons or finish up something like Camp Nanowrimo, but it could also be a regular event where kids can share their creative endeavors with other like-minded folks.

8. Remember pen pals? What if you had book pals? You could match up kids from different schools or libraries with similar reading interests and encourage them to swap book ideas and write back and forth with each other about the books they are reading and the characters they love. Then, host an event once in a while where book buddies get to hang out together. Man, now I want a book buddy!

These are just 8 ideas for encouraging kids to read more and share their love of books with others. Do you have any great ideas? Please share them with us and then pass this post along to a friend you think might be interested. We’d love to have a long list of fabulous ideas to inspire the kids in our own communities to pick up a book and READ!

free book, Friday, Writing

>Freebie Friday Goes Hip-Hop

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I am thrilled to share today’s freebie with all of you.  It is not a book this week, but as a writing teacher, I am super excited about this one, guys, and I know you are going to love it.

Earlier this week I was discussing tools for teaching kids how to write really great stuff with my pal, Joshua Unruh.  He suggested I check out Flocabulary, a company that uses hip hop to help kids learn academic material.  I’m honestly the least “hip-hop” person I know, except for maybe my mother in law, but that’s why Flocabulary is so fabulous.  Kids love hip-hop and Flocabulary brings that fun and creativity that they naturally connect with and uses its power to introduce great material, including writing techniques.  You get to be the cool teacher, just by sharing Flocabulary with your kids!

Well, naturally I explored their website and I loved their recent post about 5 ways to teach writing with Flocabulary.   That’s when I went to find my 12 year old to drag her into the middle of this.  We don’t listen to a lot of rap music in our house (if you don’t count the rapping on Electric Company, that total goes down to “none”) so I wasn’t sure how she would respond to this idea.  What an idiot I am sometimes.  Of course she loved it!  We watched a few of their free videos and she was asking me to play them again and again.  Then, she wanted me to print off the lyrics to the Transitions song.  I asked her why.  “So I can memorize them.  I didn’t know this stuff and I think it would be fun to learn the rap so I can remember it.”  That’s the whole point of Flocabulary.  She got it!  It grabs their attention and makes them want more.

I contacted Flocabulary and asked permission to blog about them.  They were excited to share their hard work with all of us.  If you go to they’re website, you’ll find Flocabulary’s great products are accessible without signing up for a trial. But thanks to the awesome people over at Flocabulary, we have an incredible opportunity to share the fun of hip-hop learning with our students this spring.

When you visit Flocabulary’s website, you’ll see that they offer everyone a free trial which provides unlimited access to all of their songs and videos for 14 days. 

But wait, there’s more!  Just for you, the good people at Flocabulary have created a special code that will allow you to swim in the Flocabulary fun for a whole 30 free days! 
Just use this link: http://flocabulary.com/kidsgottawrite30/ or enter the code “kidsgottawrite30” when you sign up for a free trial and the 30 days of Flocabulary awesomeness are yours!  

Now don’t be stingy. Share this great deal with all of your teacher friends and the great parents you know. We could all use a little help when it comes to enticing our students to learn. And don’t forget to check out Flocabulary’s other fabulous products, too! I know a certain girl in this house who is going to be begging me for the Flocabulary Shakespeare.  


Thank you, Flocabulary for sharing your genius with all of us and making us the coolest teachers on the block!