students reading at a table in the classroom

Reading can be so much fun and so rewarding for kids: it can transport you to another place and time, it can build vocabulary and communication skills, it can expand the imagination and creativity, and it can be an excellent stress reliever. But not all students are eager readers at first, and they may take some time and support to get there.

One approach to boosting students’ love of reading is to encourage independent reading, which is the term that’s used for when kids read on their own with little to no assistance. For teachers, there are many ways to encourage and strengthen independent reading. Over time, with this type of support, you are sure to see both their skills and interest in reading improve.

How To Encourage or Strengthen Independent Reading

There are many fun ways to encourage or strengthen independent reading. Some ideas involve students reading directly, and some ideas involve other creative approaches that can influence kids to want to read more on their own. Either way, the result can have a wonderfully positive effect on their independent reading. Here are some of our favorite ideas to consider:

Read Aloud
Perhaps it’s a chapter from the science book for your class curriculum, or maybe it’s an autobiography of a pivotal historical figure, or even a popular fiction book that the kids voted on – but whatever the material, reading aloud can help make both the content and reading itself more interesting for kids. This can be done by the teacher or students can take turns reading passages aloud.

Invite Guest Readers
An exciting way to get kids engaged in reading is to host guest readers in your classroom. One week might be one of the student’s grandparents, another week could be a beloved art or music teacher and another time it might be a well-known person from within your community, such as the mayor or the leader of a local organization. When kids see that so many important people in their lives love reading too, it can help strengthen their interest in reading on their own.

Bring Stories to Life
Creating an immersive experience for students where stories come to life is truly one of the best ways to exemplify for kids how you can truly get lost in a book. Becoming one of the characters for a while lets you “try on” other personalities, different places and times, and expand your world – costumes and silly voices optional! An all-time favorite example is preparing green eggs and ham for students while reading the classic of the same name by Dr. Seuss.

Host a Classroom Book Club
Participating in a classroom book club can be a great way to introduce a lifelong activity. Students can take turns selecting which book they’d like the class to read on their own, and when it’s time for the book club event, that student can lead the conversation with a few prepared discussion questions and topics related to what they learned from the book. Create a warm and inviting atmosphere, with softer lighting, a few snacks, and students sitting in a circle to encourage a great exchange.

Implement Reading Logs
Students may need to exhibit some extra accountability, so establishing reading logs can be another option for encouraging independent reading. Teachers can determine whether they’d like to measure how many minutes or how many pages a student reads and then assign a designated number for students to achieve throughout the week. Kids can complete the reading assignment at home and have a parent sign off on the log, or they can do the reading during free-time in class with teacher approval. The log helps keep track of how much reading kids achieve during the week, and they may be pleasantly surprised to see how it can add up over time.

Host a Book Fair
The joy and anticipation of a school book fair are hard to match. Kids are eager to explore the stacks and rows of fresh, new books, lined up neatly for their choosing. Rarely can anyone resist the temptation of bringing home a treasure from the book fair. There is so much promise to behold – maybe this time they’ll find the next installment in their favorite series, maybe it’ll be a book about their latest hobby or maybe it’ll be a book that helps them deal with something challenging they’re facing. Whatever the case, hosting a book fair is a sure-fire way to encourage independent reading.

Designate Daily DEAR Time
“Drop Everything And Read,” otherwise known as “DEAR” time, is a wonderful way to put the focus on the importance of reading – as in, it is such a valuable part of our day, it’s worthy of putting all else aside for a few moments spent reading. This concept works especially well with younger students, when you can have them lounging on floor mats with a pillow and blanket. Everyone gets cozy and quiet while the entire class silently reads. Dim the lights a bit and put on some peaceful background music for an even more inviting atmosphere.

Stock a Class Library
It doesn’t have to be large, but even just a small bookcase or a few shelves or two nestled into a corner of your classroom can be just the nudge students need to read on their own. When it’s right in front of them and easily accessible, kids can take a look whenever they like with no pressure. Invite students to select books they’d like to read and either enjoy in the classroom or take them home. They can even bring new or “previously loved” books in to add to the collection.

Discover Ways to Strengthen Independent Reading

Starting off with solid examples of the ways reading is both fundamental and fun, and how students can make this an important part of their everyday lives, is a great way to put them on the path to being readers for life. Consider how you can adapt the ideas here to fit your classroom needs and your individual students. Creativity and persistence will pay off as you explore how to encourage and strengthen independent reading for your students.

At Raymond Geddes, we’re here to support educators in achieving their classroom goals, including how to encourage or strengthen independent reading. Contact us today or request a school supply catalog and learn more about the supplies and resources from Raymond Geddes.