Winter break is almost here! Students are anxiously awaiting their chance to sleep late, hang out with friends, and catch a break from homework. Unfortunately for educators everywhere, reading is likely not at the top of their to-do lists.
If you’re looking for ways to motivate students to read over winter break, try these three tips:
1. Create a reading contest
Students are more likely to engage in reading if they have a good incentive! We’ve seen several school districts increase reading during school breaks by creating reading contests. For example, Bridgeport Public Schools in Connecticut increased reading by more than 21,000 hours in March 2017 versus March 2016 by turning reading into a competitive sport. The best part? They also saw students reading more often outside of reading competitions and more regularly outside of school time.
2. Let students choose
Research consistently shows that giving students a choice of what they read increases their engagement in literature and their motivation to read more often. Winter break is the perfect time to encourage students to set a goal to read a book (or two!) of their choice. Though the last few weeks of school before break are hectic, try to fit in time to visit your school library. Many school librarians are happy to provide book talks to help students choose a book they’ll enjoy. Providing access to books and allowing students to choose what to read will increase the likelihood students will reach for a book over winter break.
3. Give parents easy ideas
Communicate with both students and parents the importance of reading over winter break. To make it easy for families to include reading in the holidays, try suggesting:
-Setting aside a portion of travel time for reading or listening to a book;
-Visiting the local library for literacy activities throughout the break; or
-Choosing books from a “best books of the year” list.
-Remind parents they don’t have to be educators or literacy experts to be advocates for their child’s learning and reading goals.
By encouraging students to continue to read over winter break, you’re more likely to have a smoother transition into the second half of the year, and will continue to see gains in children’s literacy skills. Happy winter reading!