New England winters lend themselves to steamy mugs of cocoa, plush blankets, and chilly evenings curled around a book. Despite the ideal environment, halfway through the year, some of my students hit a reading slump. The initial momentum of the reading initiative subsides, leaving students a bit more lackluster come second semester.
In turn, here are four challenges I plan to integrate over the next three months to beat the winter slump and reinvigorate students’ passion for reading.
1. January: Reading Bingo and Challenge Lists
The New Year, or for us, the second semester lends itself to fresh reading goals. Goal-setting and self-reflection aside, I love reading challenges that push students to step out of their reading comfort zone and delve into new genres. This year I compiled a variety of reading challenge lists that I’ll be printing out on bookmarks to provide to my students.
I personally love the #26BookswithBringingUpBurns challenge, which has readers fulfilling challenges like reading “A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit” and “A book with a color in the title.” I’m also enjoying Rebeccah Giltrow’s BookaShelf 2016 Reading Challenge, which has participants base their book choices on the alphabet. For example, “A” stands for “a book with an apocalyptical theme.” Finally, Random House’s “YA Reading Bingo” is the perfect way to get students reading through rows of books while competing with one another to fill in a bingo card.
2. February: Book Trysts and Library Dates
February lends itself to romance with Valentine’s Day, so to celebrate our book love, students will set up blind dates for some of their favorite books. They will cover their choices in brown packing paper and write “dating profiles” including intriguing qualities readers will hopefully fall for.
In addition, students will participate in a library “date” with a friend from class. Inspired by this “date night at the library” post by The Dating Divas, I created a list of entertaining and useful tasks and challenges for students to complete. From “finding a book authored by someone with the same name” to “finding a book that has been made into a movie,” this friendly competition will put books in students’ hands while also promoting conversations revolving their reading.
3. March: March Madness and the Literary Hashtag Challenge
As March Madness approaches, my basketball students will be building teams and taking bets. I know little about basketball…but I do know about books, which is why I’m hoping to create a March Madness that looks similar to Shana’s last year. For those looking to create student-based teams, Principal Justin Cameron’s “Fantasy Reading League” at Frederick W. Hartnett Middle School gets the entire school involved in the competition together.
Finally, in March I will launch a new literary hashtag challenge that asks students to exhibit their reading lives outside of school. Students will e-mail a Twitter or Instagram class account with literary images that include the following hashtags: #LiterarySwag (a hashtag for fashionistas who know books can serve as a stylish statement piece for any outfit), #Shelfie (a hashtag for beautiful bookshelves), #IReadEverywhere (a hashtag to highlight reading in unique places), and my favorite #BookFace (a hashtag that pushes people to be a bit more creative with their book covers).
By putting new books in students’ hands, I’m hoping to inspire a little competition, a lot of conversation, and a passion that will turn them into lifelong readers.
How do you reinvigorate students’ passion for reading? What tips do you have to make it through the winter reading slump?