Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, would have been 110 years old this month and to this day he is remembered as one of the most well-known authors of children’s literature. His fun, whimsical books were some of the first that many of us read. And in our March celebrations of Dr. Seuss’s life and legacy, we often look for ways to bring that fun back into reading for our students.
Nothing excites my students more than free reading time. It’s like a sigh of relief in the classroom—they can read what they want and not have to prep for standardized post-reading questions. They know I’m not going to sit them down with paper and pencil and make them summarize what they read. But as a teacher, I also know that I must hold my students accountable for the time they spend reading, and in doing so I try to make it fun. Here are some fun reading-response activities to try in your classroom.
- Have students tweet about their books. Social media is everywhere and no matter what grade you teach, it’s likely your students are at least aware of Twitter. Rather than have students summarize what they’re reading, have them tweet it to a bulletin board. Provide sentence strips or small cuts of colorful paper where students write a 40-character (or other designated length) tweet about what they read. Even better, show them how to use hashtags to highlight the book’s theme or title.
- If you’re trying to encourage students to branch out to different genres, have them play 20 questions with another student once a week. Two students pair up and one students asks the other up to 20 questions about the book they are reading. Strict “yes” and “no” answers are optional; you might want to give them the opportunity to give short answers. Not only will students have to reflect on and remember what they’re reading, but you are also requiring them to practice language skills while they find out more about another book. If your students have a difficult time forming quality questions, start by providing some for them to use. But encourage creativity to avoid the feel of traditional reading response questions. You’ll be surprised at the conversations that ensue!
- Kids love to be silly and move around. Give them time to act out a short scene from their book—either in a small group setting or for the whole class. Use this as a reward for a struggling reader or as motivation for your class to work on a specific task. If you’re one of the lucky teachers who gets to do recess duty, you can have students perform for you during recess too so you can avoid using class time!
It can be a challenge to get students reading, especially with the ever-stressful reading response questions to prepare them for standardized tests. I don’t know anyone who likes to be quizzed about what they read, and when you’re reading for pleasure—as we should be encouraging our students to do—answering questions takes all the enjoyment out of it. But to hold students accountable to some degree, make it fun and keep the writing and questioning to a minimum.
What are some ways you encourage students to read? Do you have any fun tips to share?