Ministry of Education, Guyana

Motivating Students to Read

Asking students to give monologues in character and reading aloud to them are just two ways you can encourage them to read.

Students travel at different speeds on the road to reading success. So differentiating instruction so that all students have the opportunity to use multiple brain pathways in the reading classroom throughout their school years is key to motivating them to read and improve.
Effective teachers incorporate a variety of methods in their lessons to accommodate students with different preferences, processing styles, and strengths. Here are a few strategies you can use to try to motivate students to read.
Enacting a Favorite Character
Guide students to select a character from a book they’re reading. Once they’ve made their choice, have them create a simple costume or find props that depict the character, and then prepare and deliver a one- to two-minute monologue introducing the character to the class.
A favorite selection a young child might choose is Fern Arable, the little girl in Charlotte’s Web. Wearing a simple dress with hair pulled back in a loose ponytail, true to her character, young Fern carries on a brief conversation with Charlotte.
After reading the poem “My Mother Pieced Quilts,” a middle school girl might lead the class in celebrating the life of a family of migrant workers and the mother who makes their story a work of art by piecing together remnants from their past into quilts. For middle or secondary school students, acting out a character from a favorite Harry Potter selection can be an enjoyable learning experience. A simple costume for Harry himself might be a tie, and a stick for a wand. Someone portraying Hermione might sport a family member’s loose black shirt, dress, or robe. Her earnest introduction might reveal Hermione’s serious concern about expulsion from school.
For secondary students reading To Kill a Mockingbird, a serious Atticus Finch might be characterized giving advice to young Scout, encouraging her to see things from another’s perspective.
Becoming a Talk Show Host
Pair up students and ask them to choose one partner to pretend to be a character from a book and be interviewed by the other student in the role of a talk show host. This strategy encourages students to understand the point of view of the characters they meet in print. By expressing interest in a favorite character, students learn to engage with print in meaningful ways.
Some students might want to become a well-known talk show host such as Oprah Winfrey, while others may want to play a local host. When possible, set up a place for interviews to be held where the interviewer sits on one side of a desk and the interviewee on the other. These interviews are usually best when short—no longer than five minutes for high school students. Interviews conducted by younger students should be less than two minutes each.
Using Movement in the Reading Classroom
Effective teachers know that sitting quietly at their desks for long periods of time is hard for students. Additionally, forced inaction makes it difficult for them to learn.
Reading offers a number of opportunities for planned movement in the classroom. For example, in addition to the two activities above, which offer a chance for movement, you might consider the following:
Ask students to act out key elements of a book chapter. This activity gives students practice in identifying the most important parts of the text and an opportunity to communicate in a format that may be engaging for students with writing challenges.
Select words that are crucial to learning academic content and ask students to act out the definitions of these words in different parts of the room. Then review.
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