Each day, when the children realize that it is Quiet Reading Time, I'm met with a slew of happy fist pumps and exclamations of "YES!" It does this old teacher's heart good. Every child in this classroom is an eager and joyful reader - some reading huge chapter books, others gazing at picture books while making up stories to go along with illustrations. Whatever level the child is, reading should be a time that is relished and looked forward to.
According to many sources, including Reading is Fundamental (RIF), all it usually takes to motivate children to read is to give them choices:
Let your child choose the book. Just like someone may love green beans but not like peas, some people love reading mysteries and others adventure tales. The lists go on and on. Once they find what they do like, you can’t keep a happy reader down.
Therefore, during this time of day in our classroom, you may find children listening to funny stories on CD, or reading Star Wars or Tin Tin books. Who Would Win books have captivated some. Picture books, recipe books, poetry, comics - it's all fair game.
When I read with children during this time, it is usually one-on-one. I may do quick assessments, or we simply curl up to take turns reading - they read a page, then I read a page. I try my best to find "just right" books to read with students, to encourage them to try new books written at their specific level. But when it is THEIR turn to choose, I never tell a child, "Oh that book is too easy/too hard for you." Each child needs the freedom to make their own choices - that's what makes a happy reader!
Some happy scenes from today: