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3 Ways to Build a Community of Readers

Hi!  I’m Sara from The Colorful Apple.  As a child, my friends and I would talk about the books that we were reading while we ate our PB&J at the lunch table and on the bumpy bus rides home.  Something tells me I wasn’t your typical kid though.  So, how do we get our students to discuss books?  To share their favorites?  To reveal why they abandoned a book?

Here are some things I’ve used in my classroom to encourage my kids to talk about what they are reading and to encourage each other to pick up a good book.  As a result, a community of readers was created among my class.

1. Classroom Bookshelf

I created a bookshelf on a bulletin board.  When a student finishes a book that they think others might enjoy, they write the book title and author on the spine of the book and tape it on the shelf {you can grab the book spines for free here}.  
Book bulletin board

I keep a box of the book spines next to the bulletin board, so students are free to do this on their own.  As long as we are not in the middle of a lesson, they are allowed to visit the board.  There are students at the board ALL the time!  One year, I had the bookshelf hung up on my classroom door and anyone that walked by would stop to check it out.   Students that I didn’t know would strike up a conversation with me about the book titles they saw as they passed by.

2. Teacher board 

I print out a picture of the cover of the book I am currently reading and hang it up on this board.  My students would check every day to see if I had changed my current book.   

Teacher reading bulletin board

My goal was to show them that adults read too.  And I was honest with them.  Sometimes a book cover would only be up for a day or two because the book was so good that I couldn’t put it down.  Sometimes the cover would be up for 2 weeks because I struggled to get through a book, just like they do.  My students even started recommending books to me, just as I did for them. 

3. Status of the class

In my class, I don’t do book logs or questions or parent signatures. Those had no meaning for my students or myself.  Instead, I use an idea from Donalyn Miller’s book, The Book Whisperer.  It is, by far, my favorite way to share books in the classroom.  

Instead, we spend the first 5 minutes of class each day sharing a one-sentence summary of what we read the night before. I say “we” because I join in too. Each student is required to share a sentence. It is a great way for students to hear what others are reading and, more often than not, they find a book that they might enjoy. 
Status of the class

If two students are reading the same book and one student is further along, the second student will cover his ears or run into the hall quickly. It’s fun to watch them look out for each other!  Sometimes I track what they share, especially if I know they are struggling with finishing a book or finding a good fit.

Please note that I did not utilize all of these ideas in one year, as that would be overkill and diminish my students love of reading. I have used 1 or 2 each year I have been in upper elementary.   What have you used in your classroom to build a community of readers?


Thank you to April for allowing me to be a guest on her blog!  I have wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl.  I’ve been in the classroom for eight years, in both 2nd and 5th grades.  Reading and Social Studies are my favorite subjects to teach!  Check out my blog, thecolorfulapple.com for more teaching ideas.

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