As teachers, we work to create an impactful learning community in our classrooms, a place where children not only see themselves as readers but also love to read. Sharing our own love of reading with students is an important part of reaching this goal. It models what a readerly lifestyle looks like and makes us better reading teachers. Not to mention, sharing our enthusiasm for books might be the first time a student sees an adult excited about reading.
Sharing Your Love of Books Is Important
If you’re like me, you naturally gravitate towards other bookish people. You might follow book review blogs and book-inspired Facebook pages, collect book-themed apparel and mugs, talk to friends about good books you’re reading, belong to a book club or two, or visit bookstores just for fun. Such is the life of a reader.
Most of our students don’t know about this larger book-loving world. But we can introduce them to it. We are models, leaders, and influencers in our classrooms. Not just in telling students that they need to love reading but in showing them how much we (and many others) love reading. There’s truth to the old “caught not taught” adage. Kids watch us. What we do and say … it affects students profoundly.
Plus, research shows that teachers who are readers themselves are actually better reading teachers. One study found a “significant linear relationship between teachers who read personally and their use of recommended literacy practices in their classrooms.” Which makes sense, right? If you like math, you’re probably a better math teacher than a person who hates math. Same with reading.
After sharing this research in their book, Reading in the Wild, Donalyn Miller and Susan Kelly sum up by saying, “Teachers who read are better equipped to build successful reading communities in their classrooms and connect their students with reading and books.”
How to Model Your Love of Reading
You may already have lots of ideas for how to share your reading life with your students. The good news? There’s no right way. Your enthusiasm is contagious. Any chance you have to be enthusiastic about your reading life models this value for your students.
Find opportunities throughout the day to share about your own reading life: the books you read, the time you spent reading the night before, your reading habits at home, the new stack of books you can’t wait to read next, a book review that grabbed your attention, your too-heavy book bag, your well-loved e-reader, and recent visits to the library. Talk about the thoughts you’re having while reading a particular book (questions, reflections, aha’s), what you do when you don’t like a book, staying up too late to read and not regretting it (or regretting it!), binge-reading days, book passages that caught your attention, and so forth. Share it all. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but all of this, all of your reading life, shows your students what a readerly life looks like.
When to Model Your Love of Reading
When can you do this? In dialogue journals, mini-lessons, casual conversations, reading workshop conferences, waiting in line, at lunch, or at snack time. The only exception in my opinion would be with student-led book conversations like Socratic Seminar and book clubs. Those are for students’ voices.
Incidentally, I think dialogue journals are one of the best ways to build a trusting relationship with your students and talk about books. These are ongoing back and forth letters between your students and you. In them, your students reveal who they are (this is important as you get to know them) and you’ll be able to have conversations about what you both are reading.
It’s also important to read in front of your students occasionally. While your students read, if you’re not conferring with them, read a book. This can spark provocative questions from students. What are you reading? Is it any good? That sort of thing. (You may need to explain this purpose to your administration team, so they don’t misunderstand.)
Let’s show our students that reading is a way of life. And that we love books. Because it’s the only contagiousness you want in your classroom.
How do you model your love of reading in the classroom? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments below.
If you’re looking for more lesson plans, book picks, and reading tips for your classroom or library, make sure to check out our Teach Brightly page!