Have you ever wondered why some kids become voracious readers and others avoid reading like it’s a laundry basket full of stinky socks? We asked top literacy experts around the country what they feel is the key to building a love of reading in students. Here is what they had to say.

What is the key to building a love of reading in students?

"I think the key to building students’ love of reading is to help them become proficient and fluent readers through authentic and engaging reading activities—book clubs, opportunities to rehearse and perform readers theater scripts, poetry and songs, playing word games, reading to answer interesting and personal questions, reading to accomplish things, and the like. I think it is also important to offer students a wide range of materials to read, not just informational texts and stories, but also scripts, songs, poetry, monologues, dialogues, magazine and news articles, opinion articles, and much more. Not all children have the same interests; we need to tap into each child’s interests in order to find texts that will turn them on to reading. In addition to these, it is important for children to see that the adults in their lives find reading important, and that adults (parents and teachers especially) regularly read to their children and students. The key is to make reading a meaningful and joyful experience for children (and the adults in children’s lives)."

—Timothy Rasinski, Ph.D.

Professor of Literacy

Kent State University

 

"The love of reading starts with wonderful books shared by passionate teachers and parents. Children of all ages need exposure to rich stories and intriguing informational texts that spark their imaginations and broaden their interests. Reading aloud and together in a variety of contexts affords us opportunities to share in the laughter, joy, and tears that make up the fabric of our lives. Holding an entire classroom full of students breathless and spellbound with a book proves the magic of reading works. Growing lifelong readers happens when passionate parents and teachers share great books with kids!"

—Lori Oczkus, M.A.

Author and Literacy Consultant

 

"One key that unlocks a love of reading is modeling. This should occur in homes and classrooms. When adults model the value and fun of reading, students naturally want to try it on their own. This is easily accomplished with classroom libraries that include numerous books that students love. Reading aloud and rereading old favorites keeps interest high. Favorite words learned through listening broaden students’ vocabulary of recognized words when they read on their own."

—Mary Jo Fresch, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus

Ohio State University

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—David Harrison

Nationally Acclaimed Author and Poet

 

"Inspiring students to love reading can require a great amount of determination, focus, and effort, especially for struggling readers who are under-motivated or resistant. Taking the right approach and knowing which techniques to use or avoid is important in helping our students succeed. Students need to be engaged in ongoing reminders about why reading is important (the rewards) and how it will help them in their lives, both now and in the future. The best reward for students to read is to make reading rewarding to the student."

—Danny Brassell, Ph.D.

Author, Speaker, and Educational Consultant

 

"A student’s love of reading can be developed by modeling for them how much you enjoy reading and inviting them into the “club of readers.” This happens by talking with them about all of the texts you are reading. Exposing them to the texts you read to illustrate that reading is a real part of your life; a part you really enjoy sharing. I also believe proficient, motivated readers are developed by being taught the skills they need to read well, being exposed to texts they might like, and having opportunities to read self-selected texts and engage in conversation with their peers about the new ideas they are gaining. As teachers, I also believe we should confer with students about their reading because this gives us opportunities to assess their comprehension skills and provide subsequent instruction as needed. I define a proficient reader as one who has the skills to read well and widely and the interest to do so. I further believe that every teacher should know how to provide instruction to make proficient, motivated reading practice a reality for every student."

—Kelly Johnson, Ph.D.

Professor and Instructional Coach

San Diego State University/San Diego USD

 

"Providing lots of quality books and time to read them is very important, but equally or even more important is teaching every student how to read so well that when they do choose to read they have the skills to succeed. I believe that every teacher must be prepared to provide instruction to ensure that each student learns the skills needed to comprehend a wide array of information, knows how to identify his or her reasons for reading whether they are for pleasure or work, can resource and research the materials they want to read, and is able to support themselves when they are not fully comprehending."

—Diane Lapp, Ed.D

Professor of Literacy

San Diego State University

 

"Providing students choice, support, and space to explore are key to building a love of reading. Using digital tools with readers is a great way to increase access to high-interest reading materials. Students on digital devices need special support to understand how to best navigate these mediums. Whether you use virtual reality to help students build background knowledge before reading a novel, or give students an option to create a book trailer with a movie-making tool, you can help students build a love of reading with digital tools."

Monica Burns, Ed.D.

—Author and Educational Technology Consultant

 

"Reading = Love

Taking the time to create a quiet space and share a good book creates so much more than that. It creates a world of safety that is exciting and sweet, daring and calm, adventure and home."

—Cathy Collier, M.A. Ed.

Reading Specialist