I mentioned in an earlier post that for the last three years I’ve implemented a “100-Book Challenge” with my students. It has been a huge success for my class. Because of their reading disabilities, my students are not self-motivated to read independently, so I need to persuade them to read. Not only has this carrot worked, it has additional benefits, as well. Getting my students to read books on their independent reading level is the first step. Pretty soon, they realize that reading can actually be enjoyable (and isn’t that the whole point?).
My goal is for my students to become avid, lifelong readers, regardless of their disabilities. There are so many children’s books available that I don’t struggle as much as I used to in matching a reader’s interests to a book (and because I have the best sister, I have even more books for them to choose from!). I want my students to see themselves as readers.
The Challenge consists of them working together as a team to read at least 100 books by the 100th day of school. Depending on how many students I have, that works out to be about five to seven books per student. If they succeed, they earn a party and get to vote on the party’s theme. Last year it was “electronics,” and students got to play on their devices from home (with permission, of course). This year they chose a “pj’s and a movie” theme, so we’ll be watching a movie version of a book we’ve read aloud in class. For treats, they always seem to like water ice. 😉
This year I added a new twist: for each genre my students read, they complete a “genre ticket.” Students are then eligible for prizes given away at our 100-Book party. This way, I encourage them to read something they wouldn’t normally pick up. I’ve had students say they never realized a certain genre was as interesting as they discovered, and I think it really leads to a deeper understanding of the differences in each genre, from non-fiction informational and biography, to realistic and historical fiction, and mystery and science fiction.
Although both the party and the prizes are external motivators to encourage my student to read, I’ve seen students become intrinsically motivated once they have read their “share” of the books. What a terrific feeling when that happens!
What are some things you do with your struggling students to encourage them to read?