Andrea Ferrero, Co-Founder, Pockets Change

Don’t Miss Out, Get Caught Reading

Guest blogger, Andrea Ferrero, co-founder of Pockets Change, shares some ideas on how to get students excited about reading.

When did you last get lost in a story? Maybe it was skimming an article online or spending an afternoon buried in a book. Whether for a few minutes or a few hours, reading has the tremendous potential to capture the imagination, inspire ideas, and build new understanding. Check out some ideas on how to celebrate reading, in the classroom and beyond! 

Visual Storytelling: The Epic Artistry of Picture Books

Picture books are often considered an early childhood experience, but they have a magic that extends across grades into adulthood. Through wordless storytelling and simple sentences, they take us on fantastic adventures and explore deeply meaningful themes. The watercolor splashes and message of finding your own voice in The Dot by Peter Reynolds has inspired learners of all ages to consider how they will leave their mark on the world. While the mysterious nocturnal adventures of amphibians in Tuesday by David Weisner inspires us all to ask what will Wednesday hold. Illustrations and storylines from picture books are the focus of numerous museum experiences and have inspired dozens of apps.

A few quick ways to extend the reading experience in the classroom include:
  • Create an alternate ending or illustrate what might happen next with your favorite character, using digital tools or paper and pencil
  • During the reading, create digital sketchnotes summarizing key story elements and expressing personal reactions
  • Research the author to find out more about their creation process and the story behind the story

Designing Reading Spaces & Havens

To help cultivate a lifelong love of learning, comfy spaces and cozy corners for independent reading are a must. Just as important though are spaces for the class to gather as a community and share in literacy experiences.

Check out these ideas for moving beyond silent reading in seats:
  • Book boats, reading nooks, and flexible seating offer opportunities for students to choose the reading environment that best suits their interests and needs. While visiting classrooms, one of my favorite finds was a second-grade teacher’s time machine reading nook made out of an upturned refrigerator box draped in holiday lights and equipped with switches, book posters, and pillows. For older students you can create a café feel with flexible seating that allows for lounging or sharing readings with friends.
  • Book clubs and literature circles give students of all ages the chance to share reactions and examine details in books of all genres. I’m a big fan of informal book club time, where students break into groups of 5 or 6 and select an article or book to read and discuss as a team over the course of a day, week or month.

Source: Gillette News Record

Tech-Inspired Book Reviews & Projects

Critical literacy skills and reading fluency take time and practice to strengthen and grow. Integrating tech tools into classroom reading supports students in accessing and analyzing text.
  • Blind Date With a Book & QR Code Reviews: Build peer-to-peer bookstore quality recommendations or have students create 5 word adjective book reviews or 2 minute movie trailers. These can be recorded online and attached to books in the classroom library using QR codes.
  • Recording students reading with Fluency Tutor: Empowers learners to identify areas for improvement, grapple with unfamiliar words, and build confidence tackling new texts.
  • Accessible text with the Read & Write Toolbar: Students can hear entire passages read aloud or click on unfamiliar words to access a picture dictionary or pronunciation.

Continue the Celebration with Reading Events and Diverse Book Suggestions

Reading Events Throughout the Year

Keep the excitement going into the summer and next school year with a variety of reading focused events.

Diverse Reading Lists

While it’s important to have stories that can take readers on journeys around the universe, it’s equally crucial that these locales are seen through a diverse set of eyes. This means that diversity in both authors and Point of View characters are essential in building a long-lasting relationship with stories and reading.

  • The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond by Brenda Woods - A biracial girl sets out on a journey to find her father’s side of the family, and her place in the world.
  • Gabby Garcia’s Ultimate Playbook by Iva-Marie Palmer - Gabby is about to pitch her first perfect game, but a discovery of asbestos closes her school and sends her to one where she might not be a star.
  • The Real Boy by Anne Ursu - Townspeople call Oscar ‘simple,’ and ‘not quite right,’ so they mostly ignore him. Oscar knows more than people think, and he lives in the basement of the town's most powerful magician.
Young Adult/Middle School
  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler - Butler is an often-overlooked author with a fantastic and extensive catalogue. This is a story of a young Black girl with psychic powers traversing an unforgiving wasteland on a quest of self-discovery.
  • Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee - Jess Tran is the powerless daughter of two super heroes. Determined to make her mark, she applies for an internship to work for what turns out to be a notorious super villain.
  • Order of the Seers by Cerece Rennie Murphy - An evil global organization controls the world by enslaving Seers, people who can see the future. A brother and sister are on the run, using their powers to evade capture and hopefully free their people.

High School
  • Aly, Michelangelo’s Son by Peter Cane - Aly is the son of famed artist Michelangelo and an African slave. Now an old man, he recounts the deceptions & horrors behind Europe’s most pivotal moments in history.
  • Stranger by Rachel Manija Brown & Sherwood Smith - First book of “The Change” series where a cataclysmic solar storm has destroyed the world and mutated some people into powerful beings, leaving a rift between the Norms and the Changed.
  • Beauty Queens by Libba Bray - Teen beauty queens crash on a desert island. A satirical look at burgeoning womanhood from unexpected and empowered viewpoints.

For tips on how to increase reading fluency in the classroom, hear from three leading experts in the fields of fluency and reading - Christine Pinto, Dr. Timothy Rasinski and Dr. David Paige - in our series of free recorded webinars, as they explore the techniques teachers can immediately apply to help students with instruction.



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