No matter how much you want to believe that your students will read over break – whether it be winter break, Spring break, or during the summer months, the hard truth is that most children do not. In fact, according to the National Education Association:
Only 53 percent of children ages three to five were read to daily by a family member (1999). Children in families with incomes below the poverty line are less likely to be read to aloud everyday than are children in families with incomes at or above poverty.
Thankfully, one of the great things about reading is that it is never too late to make a new reading goal. For your students, this could mean the difference between a great advancement in reading skills and one that is mediocre.
How to Set Reading Goals with Students
As we approach the new year, there are many opportunities to share with students and help them take charge of their reading habits and start anew. In fact, teaching students that they can always set reading goals is important to nurturing their enthusiasm and excitement about reading. Remember, ear reading is just as valid as reading printed books. The purpose of reading is to get the information into the brain. Ear reading is a viable and acceptable accommodation for your students with dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities. The tips and tricks below can help you start generating reading goal excitement in your class.
Big Goals, Little Goals, Every Goal Counts
For your voracious readers, reading 10 books before Valentine’s Day might be an easily attainable goal. For those developing readers, however, 10 books might be a goal for 10 months! When goal setting with students, it is important to validate that every goal that they set is important if it challenges them to achieve more. This can easily lead into discussions about focusing on goals, not making goals that are so easy they are hardly a challenge, and personal growth. Reading goals that match students’ individual reading abilities should challenge them, but also be attainable.
- By Genre: If you are focusing on a certain genre in class, encourage students to set goals for reading a certain number of that genre during a designated time frame. Another idea is to set goals to read one book of each genre before the end of the school year.
- By Date: Create reading goals that coincide with an upcoming holiday, event, or celebration. 14 Books by Valentine’s Day, 15 books by Read Across America Day 2015, or 17 books before St. Patrick’s Day are all achievable and fun goals for students. At the start of the new school year, have a class challenge to read 100 books before the 100th Day of School.
- By Interest: Capitalize on students’ interests and encourage them to set goals based on topics that they enjoy. Children that enjoy sports might want to read 12 sports related books before the end of the school year. Those who enjoy mysteries can be encouraged to read a mystery and a nonfiction book about the place where the mystery takes place (i.e. – Magic Tree House Mummies in the Morning and then a non-fiction book on Ancient Egypt).
There are limitless ways to track students’ progress. Place heart stickers on a cut-out heart if the goal is near Valentine’s Day. Fill in lines of a Dr. Seuss hat for a Read Across America goal. Color in the segments of a beach ball for a year-end reading goal. Use a 100 grid for a goal to read 100 books during the school year or before the 100th Day of School. No matter how you and your students track the books they read, make it fun, colorful, and exciting.
Celebrate your students’ success and make a fuss over the completion of their goals. Your encouragement and their achievement will make their love for reading flourish. Plan a book review party and invite them to share their favorite books with one another. Create posters and displays highlighting their achievements and showcasing their top picks. Let them know that you are proud of their hard work. And then let them know that it’s time to set a new goal.
Motivating students to read is not an easy task. However, by helping them set and achieve their goals, you are teaching them that anything is possible. In this case, that “anything” is reading a few great stories that they may never forget.
How do you do it?
How do you encourage your students to challenge themselves in reading? Share your ideas and tips below.