Inspiring Students to Love Reading: Books Students Loved to Read on myON in 2017

How do we inspire students to love reading? If I had to pin it down to one answer, it would be “discovery.” Landing on the book that changes a student’s mindset about reading is a magical moment to be a part of. It’s also the single reason I can point to as to the inspiration behind my becoming an educator in the first place. I have a vivid memory of when it happened to me as a 4th-grader at Dryden Elementary School in Arlington Heights, Illinois. For me, the lightning bolt moment came courtesy of my teacher at the time, Mrs. Quick, and her recommendation that I check out The Witches by Roald Dahl.

More so than the story itself, I was blown away by Roald Dahl’s writing. It was the first time I can remember an author nailing the ability to write from the child’s perspective. His writing was also bursting with humor while spinning a narrative that kept me enthralled from start to finish. Credit is also due to Mrs. Quick. She pulled me into an immersive experience with the book and also recommended books about origins tales for witches, and even went so far as to record herself reading chapters of the book! As educators, it can feel hard to bring readers into an immersive experience. Whether it’s because of the shifting role technology plays in our lives, a race for raising standardized test scores, or lack of classroom time to get lost in a book, more than ever, students need a wide range of choice and voice in self-selecting books. 

Immersive reading involves using more than one sense to enjoy a book. You can listen to playlists, see graphics, watch videos, and really get into the world of the author and the story in a way you never have before. One of my favorite elements of the myON ecosystem is just that: it invites the reader into a multisensory experience with the text. Whether students are utilizing the visible thinking literacy tools or the audio narration, visiting websites that teachers provided as part of a Project, or using the capability to zoom in and out of the book, students love diving into books and taking it all in. Another benefit of the personalized literacy platform is that each time a reader opens up a book, data is gathered. As a classroom teacher, I spent a good amount of time synthesizing the data of my classroom—both at a high level in terms of topics and categories, but also at the individual level to gain insight into each reader’s identity and how I could support them.

Even though we have flipped the page on 2017, it’s not too late to pause and reflect on some of the most popular titles in myON’s catalog. Plus, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it is fitting to draw attention to and recognize the books that readers fell head over heels for in 2017! It’s time for (drum roll please) Love at First Sight: the Top Books and Categories that Pulled at Readers’ Heartstrings!

Starting out with the fifth-most popular book at 84,542 readers is Ninja-rella: A Graphic Novel! 

We all may be familiar with the classic Cinderella story: stepmother treats her like dirt. Her two stepsisters treat her like dirt. Forced to clean their clothes, cook their meals, and poor Cinderella only has rags to wear and crumbs to eat. But it’s at this point where Ninja-rella gets interesting: Each night, in secret, Cinderella is training to be...a ninja! Easy to see why this book cracked the top five in 2017. Readers love fractured fairy tales!

The fourth most-read book was Day of the Field Trip Zombies. There is no end of love for zombies at the moment. 

Just when you think they’re finished, they get up again and shamble towards you! Who knew a harmless field trip to the aquarium would result in radio-controlled zombies courtesy of Dr. Brainium?! 

A doomed ghost ship? A banjo-playing ghost? Sounds like a creepy, good time! Super Scary Ghosts creeped out more than 76,000 readers in 2017!

This creepy set of tales for young readers introduces some key terms that will make your spine tingle like ghost, spirit, and the afterlife.

Did I mention that zombies are popular as of late? With Night of the Homework Zombies, the School Zombies series continues its domination on the top five books of 2017! 

Imagine this: you’re in class and have to use the washroom. So far, so good. But upon returning to class you discover your classmates are no longer your classmates, but homework-loving zombies!

Think a witch ate Hansel and Gretel? Nope! Think again! Coming in at a whopping 84,542 readers and owning the title of most read book in myON is Trust Me, Hansel & Gretel Are Sweet! 

Another fractured fairy tale, another creepy premise and a ton of happy readers! In addition to exploring this new twist on a classic tale, readers also gained exposure to idioms and an easy entry point into story comparisons. Readers who enjoyed this book may also be interested to know that they are 13 other books in The Other Side of the Story series!

In addition to the most-read books on the platform, teachers can glean even more insight by viewing the most popular categories based on the “hours spent reading” metric. Students spent hundreds of thousands of hours exploring the expansive library myON offers, but there were some clear-cut favorites for readers. Below is the breakdown of which topics caught the eye of students.

Who knows what 2018 will bring as readers continue to become immersed in the wide variety of books myON has to offer. Will zombies and ghosts rule supreme? Or will a new genre move in to take top honors? Will readers spend nearly half of their time getting lost in the array of genre titles? Or will “scary and gross” challenge for the top spot? Only 10 more months of active and meaningful reading before we find out!

Billy Spicer

Billy currently teaches in Lake Zurich Community Unit School District 95 in suburban Chicago. After spending a decade teaching 3rd thru 5th grades, Billy served students and teachers as an instructional coach. He recently spent time in the Bahamas with the Shedd Aquarium where he lived on a research vessel for a week conducting scientific inquiry. Prior to teaching in Lake Zurich he worked at Walt Disney World as a member of the Animal Programs department in entertaining, educating, and inspiring conservation action. He facilitates a passion for literacy, passionate learning, and social media to discover creative ways for students to meet their individual learning needs. Authentic and purposeful technology integration is a non-negotiable aspect in providing students with the tools to be successful. Billy earned his BA in Elementary Education at Illinois State University and a MA in Literacy and Reading from Benedictine University. He also enjoys hot dogs, coffee, and his ever growing collection of records. To learn more about his interests and passions in and out of the classroom, follow him on Twitter-@MrBillySpicer