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5 Ways Teachers Instill a Love of Reading Through Online Learning


Being transported by a good book can be the difference between a regular day of distance learning and something more magical. One of the most important lessons teachers can impart is a lifelong love of reading — and teachers are getting creative at unlocking that passion within their students from afar.

We talked to teachers conducting distance learning in our Facebook community to learn more about how they’re bringing reading to their students. Find an idea that resonates with you, and get started creating a project.

Invest in books that mirror your students’ identities

When students see themselves in the stories they read, they can engage in a whole new way — especially students of color who may not regularly see their identities reflected in media around them. From bilingual books to books with protagonists who have similar lived experiences to your students, culturally responsive books can change how students engage in reading.

“To create love for literacy, I am working on building my bilingual library. I reached out to families that I service and asked what books they love in their native language that they would like to see at school. Their responses were magical and it strengthened our home to school connection.”

“I’m celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month in my Spanish classroom by reading/sharing stories by authors from different Spanish speaking countries. The kids love it!”

Resources to bring these idea to life:

  • Take a look at this reading list from The Conscious Kid to find grade level recommendations for books that affirm students’ identities
  • Explore the multicultural book collections at Kaplan Early Learning Company
  • Check out the ‘bilingual and Spanish’ section of AKJ Education for bilingual titles like Un día de nieve and Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story
  • Find books featuring main characters of color like Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment, Ikenga, and Something to Say at MahoganyBooks.

Keep read alouds going

Virtual read alouds are quickly becoming a coronavirus staple, and they transfer perfectly to your Zoom classroom. With some creative camera angles and photography, you can recreate that beloved reading circle — even without a rainbow rug!

“I am the remote teacher for twenty 1st graders, and I read at least two picture [books] a day… taking pictures of each page and uploading into PowerPoint!”

“I am doing both #classroombookaday and First Chapter Friday in my room, virtually, to get my students to not only be introduced to new novels but also build their empathy and understanding of others.”

Resources to bring this idea to life:

  • Browse our collection of thousands of read aloud books through AKJ Education or Amazon Business. 
  • Capture images to share with your students with a digital camera from Best Buy Education

Send books directly to students

Nothing quite replaces the feeling of a new book in your hands. Many teachers are finding safe and creative ways to get hard copies of books to their students’ homes! Uncovering students’ favorite stories and genres takes some ingenuity, but of course, these teachers have it covered.

“I had families come pick up a starter packet filled with art materials, resources, and books. The books were arranged by easy, medium, and hard categories, and each student received all three since I wasn’t completely sure about their level.”

“After finding out that many students don’t have books to read at home, we wrote a project for books to go home with students. If the books come back, we’ll add them to the classroom library (after quarantine).”

Resources to bring this idea to life:

  • Send books home with students using labeled book bags like the ‘Sort & Store Book Totes’ available on DonorsChoose from Lakeshore 
  • Order books to send home with students in their favorite series like Captain Underpants, Amulet, or The Magic Tree House available on DonorsChoose at AKJ Education

Pair reading with another engaging activity

When students do an activity connected to their reading content, students can reinforce what they’ve learned and make connections to the world around them — key to developing life-long readers. Three teachers shared book + project combos that their students loved.

“I’m trying to get them excited about books by having fun Friday where we read a great book and do an art project and writing to go along with it.”

I use the books to write music that corresponds with what we've read. We use phrases from the book to create rhythms and transfer those rhythms to body percussion and create melodies using our Orff instruments.”

“I am creating a love for literacy in my classroom by showing my students how excited I am about reading and by getting them involved with reading by acting out the books that we read.”

Resources to bring these idea to life:

  • Create an art set to accompany your read alouds with a Crayola Classic Original Marker Set, Crayola Artista II Liquid Washable Tempera, and Blick Liquid Watercolors, available on DonorsChoose at Blick Art Materials
  • Bring music to your reading lessons with, Nino 4-Piece Egg Shaker Assortment, Hohner Kids Set of 4 Finger Cymbals Brass, and Meinl Wood Guiro with Scraper available on DonorsChoose at Woodwind & Brasswind 
  • Infuse your reading with some dramatic flair with Classroom Puppet Pals Set - Set of 16, Old MacDonald's Farm Finger Puppets - Set of 6, and Community Helper Hat Collection - Set of 8 available on DonorsChoose at Kaplan Early Learning Company

Create classroom library procedures that work for your community

Just because distance learning complicates classroom reading doesn’t mean we have to throw out the whole system! Adapting your classroom library procedures can be as simple as “quarantining” a book when it’s returned before sharing it with another student, or as in depth as partnering with your local public library.

“Our county schools have partnered with the county libraries to offer ebooks and audiobooks through our learning management system. It has increased the books exponentially children can access while quarantining and virtually learning especially if they don’t have a public library card yet.”

“I created a virtual library so students can check out books. They preview the titles and then request the one they want to pick up at the school.

“Our school is working on creating book bags for families to pick up as we learn virtually.”

Resources to bring this idea to life:

  • Bring your classroom library game on the move with ‘Books on Wheels Mobile Cart - 6 Bins’ or ‘Leveled Library Mobile Storage Cart’ available on DonorsChoose at Lakeshore 
  • Adapt your classroom library procedures with the ‘Help-Yourself Book Bins’ or ‘Connect & Store Book Bins’ available on DonorsChoose at Lakeshore 
  • Offer your students access to virtual reading with Britannica Digital Learning’s digital collections

Inspired to create a reading project request for your students?

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