Must Try Tip to Encourage Students to Read a Variety of Genres

Must Try Tip to Encourage Students to Read a Variety of Genres

One goal I always have for my students each year is to help them grow as readers who love to read a variety of books, reading genres, series, and authors.

I spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year going over our classroom library, explaining how to find and borrow books, and sharing different reading genres with my budding readers. Young readers are often limited to levels books, books that they see displayed, or books that they see friends and family reading. It is our job as reading teachers to expose our growing readers to a wide range of books to read and fall in love with!

One way I have found to successfully encourage students to read a variety of reading genres is by helping students have a balanced reading diet.

The following are questions that I am often asked about how I promote having a balanced reading diet in my classroom. 

What is a balanced reading diet?

balanced reading diet genre lessons

I love explaining a balanced reading diet by comparing it to a well balanced food diet. Just like your body needs a variety of foods to help it grow, so does your reading diet. This simple analogy always helps students to see that they should be reading a wide range of genres, series, and authors.

At the start of the school year, we go over our classroom library (which is organized by reading genres) and discuss the characteristics of each genre. By clearly explaining each genre, showcasing a genre bucket, and recommending a book or two for each genre, students are engaged and curious! Leaving a genre bulletin board display up all year long truly helps and encourages students to explore different genres.

How can you encourage a balanced reading diet?

balanced diet book club card genre lesson

In my classroom, I use frequent reader club cards to encourage students to read new genres. It is a fun way to help students expand their reading and teach responsibility since these cards are non-refundable! 

These cards are fun, easy to use, and highly motivating for students! I hand out the cards and chat about them with students. After they read a book that matches one of the listed genres, they must share an oral summary about the book and explain why it is that genre.  Students can find me to chat about the book during morning work, snack time, or dismissal. This is not done during instructional time. Once all 7 genres listed on the card are stamped/punched, the student earns a reward. It is usually something simple like, lunch with the teacher, homework or morning work pass, or tickets for our weekly raffle. After the student has submitted their card for a prize, they get a new card and start all over again.

What is a reading genre challenge?

reading genre book challenge lesson

This is such a fun activity to do after you teach students about the different reading genres and it is easy to do!

Just grab a few baskets and fill them with a wide range of reading genres from your classroom library. Put the baskets in the middle of a group of students to share. Each student takes a book and explores the book: title, cover, summary, read the first chapter, or any other way they want to learn about the book. Then they identify what genre it is, write it down, and begin again with another book.

Students always love this! They learn about new genres, get talking about books with their peers, and get curious about different books in our classroom library.

How do students share a wide range of reading genres?

book talk reading genre lesson

There are two main ways that I have students share what they are reading with their peers. We have a weekly book recommendation sign up and we also do classroom book talks.

  • Book Recommendation Sign Ups: Once a week, students can sign up for an informal book share to be held during our Wednesday morning meeting. It is less formal than book talks, but allows students to share a book that they are currently reading and love. We have a sign up sheet that requires students to write the book title and author. I also ask students to leave the genre code for the book that they would like to share.  Each week we share different genres. If someone already signed up for a book share with the genre that a student wants to share, they will have to wait until the next month. This ensures that a variety of genres are shared each month.
  • Book Talks: Book talk time is a structured time in the day for students to share and talk about the books that they are reading. Through the students' prepared, short oral presentations, they try to sell or persuade their peers to read the book. This means that the students combine their reading, opinion, persuasive, and speaking skills into one meaningful activity. I love to hold book talks every Friday afternoon.
Read more about implementing book talks in your classroom HERE.

When it comes to encouraging students to read a variety of genres and truly grow as readers, try using reading challenges and balanced reading diets. These are fun ways to pique students' curiosity about different genres, series, and authors!

You might be interested in reading:

Check out my favorite reading activities HERE

Like this Visualizing Reading Strategy pack! 

reading visualizing lesson

Want more Reading Genre Resources?
Click Here.

reading genre display and lessons

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using a balanced diet for reading genre lessons


8 Ways For Getting Books to Stock Your Classroom Library

8 Ways to Get Books to Stock Your Classroom Library

Wondering how you can get all the books that you need to stock your classroom and your classroom library? I understand! It is a common struggle that all new teachers face when they begin to set up their classrooms.

Sure it is easy to hit up Amazon for the latest and greatest new books, but there are many other ways that you can score some amazing picture books to read aloud to your students and chapter books to add to your classroom library!

I am definitely a children's book addict and I am ok with that! 

Picture books and chapter books line my office walls, fill many closets in my home, and are proudly displayed all over my classroom. I worked for many years during college in the children's department of a book store {Borders, you may have heard of it} which fueled my love of books even further. It was definitely a dream job, outside of teaching, and I loved every moment of going to work. I got a sneak peek at all the new books, free books from publishers, and spent the entire day just chatting about books.  Before I was even teaching I had a whole stash of books just waiting for a classroom to call home!

Since these were the days before Amazon I got pretty creative when it came to finding books for my classroom. Try some of these ideas to help grow your book collection and classroom library.

1. Goodwill and Thrift Stores

Take an afternoon to hit up all of your local Goodwill and Thrift Stores. There is always a book section and it is usually stocked with children's books. Don't limit yourself to just chapter books for the classroom library, look for picture books to read aloud to students, too! You will grab the biggest haul by visiting multiple stores in one day! 

Use THIS SITE to find a Goodwill shop in your area!

2. Garage Sales

The summertime is garage sale season! Check your paper and social media groups to see where garage sales are happening in your area. I love garage sales because many times when you tell the owners that you are a teacher they will either give you the books for free or give you an amazing deal, so be sure to speak up and say you are an educator!

3. Scholastic Warehouse

Going to Scholastic Warehouse Sales is a teacher's dream! You can always find amazing deals on newer books. Some even have a sale that allows you to pay per pound of books! Use THIS SITE to grab amazing deals and be notified when the next Scholastic Warehouse Sale will be happening in your area! 

4. Instagram

The teacher community on Instagram is an amazing place to hang out! Are you following me there? head on over and follow along today! I am always sharing my favorite picture books and chapter books along with free activities to use with them! Plus, I frequently do book giveaways to help you stock your library! I am not the only one that does book giveaways! Be sure to follow some of your favorite publishers for their deals and giveaways, too!

Must follow on Instagram:

stack of books to add to your classroom library

5. Libraries

Befriend the children's librarian at your local library! They will be a great asset to you as you hunt for amazing books to stock your classroom library. Let them know you are looking for books and they will let you know when they discard books that you can have or if they have a friends of the library sale.

My local library has a sale on the first Saturday of the month where they sell (quite cheaply) books that they are taking out of circulation. So be sure to ask around at your local library, you will be surprised how much they can help you!

6. Ask Around and Social Media

Tell everyone you know you are a teacher! They will point you in the direction of free things for teachers. Everyone knows someone who is getting rid of books or retiring and has books and classroom materials to share.

Join local Facebook groups of teachers in your area. So many people post books and materials that they are happy to give away because they are retiring or changing grade levels. Also, check the FB Marketplace for cheap boxes of books that people are looking to get rid of! Be sure to check daily to catch the latest deals.

7. Donors Choose and Wishlists

If you have specific books or sets of books in mind that you want to use in the classroom head on over to Donors Choose and create a grant! You can also create an Amazon Wishlist filled with books you like! When you are done completing these share them on Social Media. You will be surprised how quickly people pitch in to help a teacher in need!

8. Try the Book Bank

Visit this site: The Book Bank to see if you qualify for free or discounted books for your school.

These are great ways to stock your classroom library with books that YOU want and pick out!

These ideas will definitely help to stock your classroom library! These tips are not just for new teachers. All of us should keep up-to-date classroom libraries with fresh new titles to help grow our students as readers and keep students engaged and motivated to read!

You might be interested in reading:

Check out my favorite reading corner resources HERE

Like this Reading Genre Kit!

classroom library reading genre poster sets

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8 Ways to Get Books to Stock Your Classroom Library

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    4 Back to School Activities to Kickoff Reading

    back to school reading kick off lessons

    I love kicking off reading in my classroom with activities that hook students right from the first day of school! I love using fresh ideas to help students think about reading and books in new ways.

    By the time my students have come to me in the upper grades, they have already had several back-to-school reading lessons under their belts. That is why I like to engage students in back-to-school reading lessons that are different than anything they have completed before!

    While these lessons focus on very important beginning of the year reading skills and topics that must be taught, you will find that these activities offer students fresh and engaging activities that will hook them into reading and start them on their path of becoming lifelong readers!

    Make a Classroom Library Map

    Classroom library map activity

    Creating a map of our classroom library is always a class favorite! Students always remember this activity and it helps them learn the ins and outs of the classroom library to make finding a just right book simple! 

    Here is how to use this classroom library map activity:

    Go over how your classroom library is organized with your students. Your students should know if your library is organized by level or genre, or a mix of both. when students understand how their classroom library works they can shop for books in a small amount of time.

    I use a full reading mini-lesson on how the library is organized. Students explore the baskets, genres, posters, and learn the ins and outs of each shelf. Then students create a map of our library.  I also challenge students to make a map key to help them identify different parts of the library. Once students complete their classroom library maps they keep them in their reading binders.

    Not only is this helpful activity for students to familiarize themselves with their new classroom but it also gets them excited about new genres and talking about books! Since our library is not big enough for all students to create their maps at the same time students rotate through. If they are not working on the classroom map, they are independently reading.

    Just Right Book Challenge

    just right book challenge

    This Just Right Book Challenge is my favorite back-to-school reading activity! Who doesn't love a good challenge?

    Each group of students will get a bucket of books at their table filled with a mix of challenging, just right, and easy books. Each student will take a turn with a book to "test it" out to see if it is just right for them. Each student completes the reflection page independently with information to support if the book is too challenging, too easy, or just right. Students work privately even though they are sharing a bucket of books.

    This focused task truly helps students compare books in one sitting allowing them to recognize which is too challenging, too easy, or just right! This is a must add to your back-to-school reading lesson plans!

    Bust out the Stopwatches: Building Stamina Countdown

    building stamina lesson for first 20 days of reading

    Grab your stopwatches and get ready to track your class' stamina!

    My students always love this tracking system to help us slowly build our reading stamina. I take this page and place it in a thick page protector that I can write and erase on. We start with a class goal of sitting and reading for 20 minutes without interruptions. As the days pass we add more time to our goal, eventually sitting for 45-60 minutes of focused reading time. The students are highly motivated by this and enjoy trying to beat their time every day. Rotate students to be in charge of the stopwatch for a little extra motivation! 

    Real VS Fake Reading Anchor Chart

    real vs fake reading anchor chart for first 20 days of reading

    Talking about real and fake reading is an important back-to-school reading lesson. It is a meaningful way to have students reflect on their own personal reading habits. You can create an anchor chart before your lesson with ideas like these to kick off the discussion or leave your TCHART anchor chart blank so that students can fill it in. 

    By discussing what real, meaningful reading is at the start of the year, you will be helping students self-monitor and check-in with themselves as readers all year long!

    When it comes to getting your students excited about reading this year, these fresh new ideas will do the trick! These activities are highly engaging and motivating for ALL students regardless of reading levels. Start the school year and your reading block with these must-try lessons and activities! 

    Have a great year teacher friends!

    Get started celebrating reading in your classroom this back-to-school season with this easy to implement FREE resource.

    first 20 days of reading free lessons and scope and sequence

    You might be interested in reading:

    Check out my favorite reading kick-off activities HERE

    Like this writing about reading resource! 

    first 20 days of reading lesson writing about reading

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    4 FRESH Activities to Kickoff Reading

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