This book is clear and to the point, but it did not give me additional insight on how to motivate students to read. The ideas in the book sound good in theory but aren’t necessarily relevant in the classroom. Or many teachers are already doing this type of teaching in their classrooms. Unfortunately, many of the students in classrooms aren’t intrinsically motivated to read, and extrinsic rewards have been helpful for many teachers. In a perfect world, teachers would get all students to love reading by picking out the right books and modeling a love of reading, but some students need much more than that! If you are a teacher who feels like you are giving way too many prizes or bribing kids to read, this book might help you. If you are a veteran teacher, this book might validate that you are teaching the right reading practices.
Hearing that we need to get ALL students to love reading is impractical, and it is unfair to set teachers up for this expectation that is unachievable. I used to buy into the idea that I had really made it as a teacher if I could only influence ALL of my students to love reading, but that is such an unrealistic expectation. As adults, we don’t look down upon our peers or friends who don’t love reading just for fun. Not everyone will be intrinsically motivated to read. That’s ok! So why do we tell kids that they have to love reading?
This book is about increasing intrinsic motivation in students when it comes to reading. If you’ve been a teacher for a minute, some of the ideas might make you roll your eyes.
For example, if you just let students choose the book, they will be excited about reading. This is an overrated concept. Choice is great for students, but just because a student got to pick the book he reads, doesn’t mean he/she will be eager to read.
Another example, if you set a purpose for reading, the students will want to dive right into books. In a perfect world, that would work. If it was that simple, people wouldn’t be reading a book like this in the first place.
Compliant Readers VS Motivated Readers
ARC of Motivation
Access, Relevance, Choice
Is it so bad to be a compliant reader?
*Every student has one book that they have read and loved. It is usually from elementary school Students are Highly Motivated to read and share this book. Let them share it, even if they are too old for it now.
*Don’t make assumptions about students and reading
Many students will tell you what you need to know if you just ask. Sometimes the student is trying to be vulnerable and tell a teacher a book is too hard, but the teacher brushes the kid off or assumes that the student is just lazy.
*Listen to your students read as much as possible.
*Meet kids where they are as readers.
I think that starting with the extrinsic rewards can be beneficial to start the conversations about reading, which can lead to discussion and deeper thinking.
Remember Book it? If you read a certain number of books, your teacher presented you with a coupon for a FREE personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut? It was AWESOME!
Negatives of extrinsic rewards
- Kids will quit if they don’t think they can achieve the goal to get the reward.
- Prizes are a short-term fix.
- Grade level impacts how well this concept works…4th, 5th, 6th is much different than 7th, 8th, 9th.
Thoughtful Rewards Make Sense
*Tie the rewards to the goal…more books, extended reading, etc.
*The reward goes back to something tied into reading.
Every professional in education has said it…KIDS NEED TO READ MORE! Where do we find the time? I suggest including families in a positive way. Have a Read-In once a month. Invite local authors into the school. In the school newsletter, include a teacher reading from a popular text. Build a relationship, then build a reading community. Make it an enjoyable and inclusive experience.
In my professional opinion, building relationships is the number ONE way to reach students. However, there are a myriad of programs designed so that teachers can or should try to fix the reading problem, but even the best programs will be unsuccessful without the right teachers.
There are a few take aways from the book, but I didn’t walk away from this book with new information that will change the way I teach.
Ways to Get Kids Excited about Reading
- Excitement in my own reading
- Genuine interest in the student (The Relationship)
- Reading Aloud
- Finding stories that connect to their lives (Relevance)
- Competition (Extrinsic Rewards)
- Parent Involvement
- Celebrate your Reading Life
- Book Tweets—Kids in middle school aren’t on Twitter-But might use this with something relevant at the time. Youtube, Roblox, Tiktok, etc
- Book Clubs (Talk about the reading)
- Let the kids bring in something they want the teacher to read aloud