I have been looking for ways to encourage independent free reading with my two reading classes. I have also been mentoring a colleague, who has never taught reading before, struggling with the same issue. I decided to do a "Fiction Friday...or Not!" activity. I don't think this is a unique idea, as I was inspired by some of the blogs I follow that do "What I am reading" posts. It was also inspired by a "Good News" activity I do to help students make personal connections.
On random Fridays, my friends take turns telling about the book they are reading, but haven't finished. They talk briefly about why they chose the book or what they like about it. Some may have only read the first page, but are curious if others had read it. It takes less than ten minutes to get to everyone. At fifth grade, most students choose to read a novel, but there are those that prefer non-fiction, thus the "Not" part of the activity. They get a kick out of being able to say they are a "not" when it is their turn.
Later, when their assignments are finished, I notice students stopping to peruse the covers of a friends' books, or to search for a book on our shelves. So simple, but rewarding! Later, their completed books can then be added to our recommendation tree which was also blog inspired. More on that in a future post.
What do you do to motivate independent reading? I would love to hear.