Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ideas That Might Motivate Kids to Read

Yesterday I had the opportunity to talk with fifty plus teachers and librarians at an Educator’s Event at the Hamilton, New Jersey Barnes and Noble. It is always wonderful to meet and chat with teachers and librarians. Whenever I do, I often hear about those students who are not motivated to pick up a book. So, for the presentation yesterday, I tapped into my experience as a Reading textbook editor and presented ideas that might, hopefully, motivate kids to read. Since these ideas were well received, I thought I’d share a couple.

1) Back when I was said textbook editor, my fellow editors and I almost always included hands-on activities to be completed after the reading selections in the pupil editions and teacher editions. We did our best to tie these activities to the reading selections. Why? Because if students knew that an activity was coming that required them to know details from the reading, lo and behold, they often became more engaged in the selection. So, one idea to consider when helping kids get more enthused about reading is to incorporate story related crossword puzzles, games, art projects, and, or dramatizations to the stories being read.

For you writers out there, you might want to create some activities to go along with your books. I put together a crossword puzzle to go along with Dog Gone, for example. I give this puzzle to kids, teachers, librarians… Okay, to anyone who wants the darn thing whenever I’m at signings and events. Of course, one must read Dog Gone before one can complete the puzzle. Tricky? Mmmm, maybe. But who doesn’t enjoy a nice puzzle now and again?

2) Another idea is to engage children while reading a story aloud. Like most of us, children of all ages appreciate being read to. But once in a while, attention might wander. To hook a listener’s interest, try pulling attention back in by focusing on the reading strategies of making predictions and making inferences. Pause at points while reading aloud to ask children to predict what might happen next or make guesses about what is going on.

In Dog Gone, for example, children could be asked to make predictions and inferences (or guesses about what is happening) after only the second paragraph.

A Make Predictions question might be: What do you think Dill and Cub will do next? The story clues point to giving Dead End, the dog, a bath. As the reading continues, though, children discover that certain events keep Dill and Cub from delivering that bath. Children confirm or revise their predictions based on these story events.

A Make Inferences question might be: Where could the sour stench rising off of Dead End have come from? What could the greenish-brown smudges that mat his fur be? Again, as the story progresses, children can revise their guesses based on additional information or they can confirm that they guessed correctly.

So, there you have a couple ideas. In my next blog, I’ll share a two more while I’m still tapping into the textbook editor part of my brain.


  1. Okay, Cynthia... I have been waiting for your next installment. This is great stuff... and, like, duh! some of us NEVER think about these things. But they are really great ways to get kids into reading fiction.

    Please put your textbook hat back on and give us more.


  2. Oh, thank you, Andrew! I'm so glad to that these are of some interest! I'm posting more ideas now.