Brian Smith is on a mission: make reading fun and create lifelong readers.
An educator at Newton Conover City Schools in North Carolina, Brian called upon Jarrett J. Krosoczka, author to bring books to life.
Brian stocked each fourth grade classroom in his district with several copies of all ten books from Jarrett’s Lunch Lady series. Each student received a checklist of the titles so they could keep track as they read. The kids dove right in. The school and local libraries couldn’t keep them on the shelves.
“Over half of the fourth graders read all of the books,” said Brian. “That means in a month they each read 10 books!”
Here are Brian’s tips to keep kids turning the pages:
- Pick a series. Try to introduce kids to series. That way they get hooked and will read more and more.
The trick once they’ve completed it? Introduce them to something similar.
“If they like Lunch Lady, maybe they’ll like other graphic novels or superhero books,” he suggests.
- Create Healthy Competition. Brian created a visual arts contest and an essay contest where students wrote about how they have been superheroes by making the world a better place. Kids became familiar with the content because they were motivated to win a special prize.
The students also competed among themselves. The checklists allowed the kids to compare which books they had read, racing to read them all.
- Use books that are accessible to more kids. Because Brian picked graphic novels, students who read below grade level could participate equally. Reluctant readers were excited by the funny content and illustrations.
“The teachers really noticed, even the reluctant readers couldn’t put the books down.” says Brian. “They’d say, ‘He never reads anything and he only has one more book to finish!’”
- Get fellow educators involved and excited. “The classrooms where the teachers were most enthusiastic were the ones where the kids were most engaged,” reports Brian.
Having books accessible in every classroom, using fun bookmarks in the shape of pizza slices and having educators at the school read the books created an environment around books that made the students want to read.