In their webinar, Jago and Qarooni (2023) refer to research indicating that children are reading less than in any previous generation and they enjoy reading less. Once students have been taught to read, then quantity of reading becomes important. If you want students to be reading regularly for sustained periods of time, then you need to help them enjoy books and reading.
Jago and Qarooni suggest that it is important to show students how reading can:
- Bring joy
- Provide solace
- Shed light
- Be a springboard for curiosity
- Cultivate camaraderie
- Offer a window or mirror on life/beliefs/values/attitudes/experiences
- Spur creativity
- Trigger action
- Allow us to connect us with others
Jago and Qarooni suggest reactivating students’ reading muscles by:
- Selecting culturally relevant and responsive books
- Providing a choice of books and helping students learn how to choose
- Including book talks (especially by other students)
- Enabling easy access to books (including taking into consideration the placement of books on a shelf, rules and barriers around borrowing books, providing the next book in a series, and considering your reaction if a book doesn’t come back – if you’re particularly upset or punitive will this then result in students being reluctant to borrow books in the future)
- Providing opportunities for students to read just for the sake of reading
- Minimising artificial tasks
Activities to encourage close reading:
- Choose a short passage and analyse the techniques used to create a particular emotion, paying particular attention to the words selected and variations in sentence length. ‘Complex text’ doesn’t need to be difficult to read (i.e., it can have a high level of readability and still be a powerful piece of writing).
- Ask students to write about a situation in which they have experience a similar emotion.
- Provide a graffiti sheet. Each student writes comments/thoughts onto the sheet in different colours. Give students time to read all the comments and then add additional comments to the wall.
- Use conversation towers. Provide each pair or small group of students with a set of blocks. Each time a person adds to another person’s conversation a block is physically added to the tower. This very tangible activity clearly demonstrates to students how conversations build knowledge.
- Pair the focus passage with other texts. This is especially important for students who may not have connected with the original text, but also for providing further depth to students’ overall understanding of the topic. It doesn’t need to be a written text but could be a picture, a video clip, a comic strip, etc.
- First page Fridays
* Read aloud or provide the first paragraph or page of a book.
* Have students write about what the author made them think or feel.
* Make sure you have multiple copies of the book for interested students to borrow.
* In 40 weeks, students will have been exposed to 40 new books.
Jago, C. & Qarooni, N. (2023). Closer Reading for Deeper Learning. International Literacy Association Webinar.