You already set the foundation by sharing your passion for reading with your students throughout the year. Now you just need to add that extra little push to extend that passion through the holidays. A simple, stress-free way to do this is to hold “book talk lunch parties” when you come back in January. Eating lunch in the classroom with you is always exciting. Use that excitement to get your students pumped up about reading by creating a buzz about upcoming book talk parties. This gives kids an extra incentive and helps them see that reading and talking about text is rewarding and fun.
First, make sure they have access to quality texts over the break.
It can be a little bit scary to let your students bring home the books from your classroom library, but it is worth the risk. If this is something that you are uncomfortable with doing on a regular basis, try making an exception for winter break. You can keep track of which students have which books by having them fill out a check-out form.
I’ve also used the dollar deals from Scholastic Book Clubs to order class sets for student gifts. They get really excited about their new books, giving them even more intrinsic motivation to read over the break.
Consider including information about the local public library in your newsletter or send home a separate flyer about it.
Create your book talk groups.
I suggest splitting your class into groups of four or five for these talks. That way you can each spend a good deal of time talking about your reading. However, if you have a large number of students, you may want to consider making larger groups to avoid spending every day eating lunch in the classroom rather than the lounge. Think about the amount of time you are willing to commit and adjust accordingly. Assign a day for each group to eat with you in the classroom when you come back to school in January. Be sure to mark down which students are invited to which day because the invites are sure to get lost over the break.
Invite your students!
This isn’t a bribe and students shouldn’t need to meet any requirements in order to join in the fun. Everyone wins when everyone is included. Students who did read over the break will get to share their opinions about what they read with their friends. Students who did not read will get to hear their excited peers share great books and may be inspired to read a few themselves. Click on the image to download your FREE invitations!
Make sure the students understand your expectations for the “book talk parties”.
Let the students know what you would like to talk about during these book talk parties when you invite them, but be sure to keep it light and fun. This can be as simple as saying, “I’m so excited to hear about your favorite parts of the story!” or, “I can’t wait to hear what types of connections you make to your reading!” The goal is to get the kids to understand the purpose of the “parties” without making it sound like work.
Host the book talk parties!
Now’s the fun part! Your students are already so excited to see you again and will be thrilled to eat with you. They will want to tell you about everything they did over the break, including their reading. Let them talk about their reading AND their lives. Add a little something special to the “party” by bringing cookies or another sweet treat.
What other strategies do you use to encourage reading over the break?
Tell me in the comments. I LOVE learning from you!