I've written before about how much I was inspired by reading Donalyn Miller's the Book Whisperer (both personally and professionally-I'm a reader again myself because of that book). I read it a few summers ago and immediately made time in our schedule with my Summer School class for them to just read. They loved it. I had a student who was notorious for both his behavior and how far behind he was academically. That child asked me if he could take a book home and trying not to reveal the suprise in my eyes, of course I said "yes!" Another teacher saw him with it at dismissal and accused him of stealing it. I explained that he was borrowing it for the night and my colleague said "you'll never see that book again". My response was "oh well" -he was in 2nd Grade and that was the first interest he ever showed in reading, you better believe it was worth the cost of that book!
We use workstations and guided reading groups at my school. My assessor likes rotation charts and structure. If you read my blog regularly you know I'm a bit of a rebel when it comes to doing what's best for my students. So we have tossed out our rotation and instead I'm just allowing them to choose what activity they want to do. And if that means just reading for 20 minutes, then that's what they do. No questions to answer (other than the optional AR quiz if they want to take it), no worksheets to do-just reading.
I go to the library every other weekend and check out books for them.
You would think I was Santa Claus and that was his sack of goodies for them! They get so excited to walk in and see all those new titles! I really spend time thinking about their varied reading levels and interests. This week they have Dinosaurs Love Underpants (the sequel to Aliens Love Underpants-a big hit), Crazy Hair by Neil Gaiman (one of our favorite authors) and Hank Finds an Egg (a wordless book-a new discovery for them this year). One weekend I literally forgot to go on Saturday with all the other errands I was running and our libraries are not open on Sunday, so Monday they were out of luck. I have never seen such sullen faces. Summoning their best puppy dog eyes they asked "well, can you go after school today?"-how can you deny a request like that?!
I truly believe you have to feed that love of reading. If an administrator walks in and sees them all over the room reading and asks why I'm not doing the hour of test prep a day my colleagues are doing-I definitely will be able to justify my reasoning! Just look at these kiddos-they are all engaged, practicing vital skills of fluency and comprehension and best of all, they are enjoying reading!