International Children's Book Day: Lighting a Spark to a Love of Reading

There's a book, isn't there, that youlovedas a child? Just thinking about it brings back a flood of memories. Either the story itself delighted you, or the memory of reading it with someone you love sealed that book in your heart forever. Either way, the book sparked something in you—and the fire that was lit is a love of reading that you carry with you to this day. Every child deserves that spark, don't they? The great news is that there is a book like that for every reader. One they can love like they love breathing. One that will stay with them forever and open the door to other books to love. How do we light that spark for our students? Here are five of the easiest ways imaginable—each path leading straight to a love that will last a lifetime!

Give Them Access.

Access to plenty of books is key—books of all types and genres and subjects and styles. Be sure the classroom is rich with books, make frequent use of the school library, and put the community library on your field trip agenda. Be shameless about asking for books for the classroom. Invite parents and community members to contribute books. Haunt yard sales and seek to inherit classroom libraries from retiring teachers. Whatever you need to do to make it happen, surround the kids with books!

Give Them Authority.

It's pretty simple really. Empower the students to share books they love and why. Let them be the authority on books for one another. Students can read excerpts of their favorite books to the class, write recommendations to go on a bulletin board, or be filmed talking about the book they love and share those films with the class—your own classroomReading Rainbow.

Give Them Opportunity.

One of the best and most important things we can do for our students is to give themtimeto read. This includes assigned reading, sure. But also it includes time to read whatever they want to read—even if it's a comic book or the back of a cereal box. Be sure the kids have access to all sorts of books and other reading materials, from how-to-manuals to "cheats" for the latest video game.

Give Them Permission.

Manage your own expectations when it comes to what the students read. When you read "comic book" and "cereal box" just now, did you roll your eyes or say, "Not on my watch"? If so, why? There's a whole spectrum of reading materials out there that makes for worthwhile reading! Kids don't have to read classics for the material to be worthy. We each love what we love when it comes to everything else in life, from ice cream flavors to favorite colors to what to do on a Saturday. Why not what we read?

Give Them Choice.

Above all, let students choose for themselves. Introduce a wide array to them by surrounding them in books and reading aloud from a wide variety of materials that you love (because your love will be infectious!). But, when it comes to their own reading, let them choose what to read. You can't make a person love a book any more than you can make them love an ice cream flavor, so let them decide which scoop to grab. In honor of International Children's Book Day this year, let students see the full spectrum of what the world has to offer in books, books, wonderful books! Let them see your pleasure in reading, and get ready to light the spark in them. Read on!