Five Ways to Publicly Celebrate Student Reading

Once our students start reading, start setting personalized goals, and start to develop healthy reading lives, it’s important to acknowledge their progress. Big, culminating classroom celebrations are a fun way to do it, but there are also ways to celebrate that don’t take a ton of precious class time, and can mark the smaller moments worth celebrating along the way.

1. Penny Kittle encourages the book stack. Students gather the books they’ve read over the last semester, quarter, or other period of time that they’ve been reading. They stack the books up, which gives a visual representation of what they’ve accomplished with their reading. My ninth grade students recently did the book stack, and their smiles and pride were inspiring.

  1. While some students loved the book stacks, I had a couple of students who had done much of their reading on e-readers, so the book stack wasn’t such a great option for them. Our solution was the digital collage. Students gathered images of their book covers and collected them on a document, creating a digital quilt or collage. They then printed them on our color printer, and we made a patchwork mural in the hall with them.

This visual representation celebrates not only what individual students have been reading, but also serves as a hallway meeting place and inspiration for conversation about books. It’s a great way to build a reading community.

  1. Our learning support teacher encourages her readers with a creative, ongoing visual representation. She has a paper “tree” on a wall in her classroom, and as students read books, they add “leaves” to the tree. On each “leaf” the students write the title and author of the books, and it serves as both a reminder and inspiration for future reading. IMG_61004. That same teacher also keeps a quote wall on her white board. The words we read can reach us in beautiful ways, and when students experience that kind of moment, they are encouraged to share those lines on the white board. It’s another public display of a healthy reading life. It’s a conversation starter, and it helps build a sense of community within the classroom.


quote-wall.png5. Another teacher in our department keeps poster paper on her walls. Students add titles to the lists as they complete their books. Because names are attached, students can reach out to one another with questions or when they want to talk to each other about a book that they read, too. It’s another public acknowledgment and conversation starter, which is part of what we need when we build reading communities.

Books Read room 225

The common thread with all of these ideas is that they are public, they are deliberate conversation starters, and they help to build our precious reading communities.


I think it’s important to create opportunities for students to celebrate their reading accomplishments in a risk-free, nonthreatening way. Time is precious, so creating these opportunities in a relatively quick way within our classroom communities can be found time. Our classroom walls should reflect the needs and values of our classroom communities, and I find that these five strategies help move students forward with the development of their healthy reading lives.

How do you enable and encourage your students to publicly celebrate their reading lives and reading communities? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Julie has been teaching secondary language arts for nineteen years, spending the first fifteen in rural Central Oregon, and the last four in Amman, Jordan. She’s thrilled to report that she and her family will be moving across the agua to Managua, Nicaragua next year, where a new adventure will begin.

Follow her on twitter @SwinehartJulie

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10 thoughts on “Five Ways to Publicly Celebrate Student Reading

  1. Anonymous March 15, 2018 at 8:26 am Reply

    My Reading Wall of Fame- thanks for the idea .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rachel Harder March 10, 2018 at 8:18 pm Reply

    I have strips of colored paper that are cut to look like book spines. When students finish a book, the pick a strip based on the genre (I use 5 different colors- each representing a different genre. They record the title on it and I hang in on the wall outside my room to look like books on a bookshelf. It’s so fun to see how many books we’ve read but we can also use the colors to see where our reading gaps are and what genres we are reading more of.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. mrsmancuso March 10, 2018 at 1:57 pm Reply

    I like your ideas, got to the end, saw Amman and thought small world. Then I saw your name and recognized it. We were at ACS before you and are currently in South America. New adventures await!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Consultant March 4, 2018 at 12:02 pm Reply

    Julie, this is so funny. I’m behind in my blog reading so today as I was reading this (and didn’t notice you were the writer), I thought that I needed to share this blog with your department when I visit in a couple of weeks. When I started to copy it to put in my Amman folder, I realized you were the writer. Such good work that you do!


    • adventuresinhighschoolworkshop March 7, 2018 at 3:49 am Reply

      Stevi, that’s too funny! I’m so glad you like what we are up to here in Amman. Looking forward to your visit (which is coming up soooon)! 🙂


  5. Amy Rasmussen February 25, 2018 at 10:07 am Reply

    Oh, man, Julie. I’ve been slacking in this area! I did have my students tweet about the reading lives lately, but I could be doing so much more to help their celebrate their reading. Thank you for these ideas and reminders! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Charles Moore February 22, 2018 at 2:04 pm Reply

    I love this idea and we record every book we read gets added to the tree on our wall. I can’t keep enough leaves made for all the books they are reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. andreacoachman February 22, 2018 at 9:40 am Reply

    These examples are amazing! I love what you said about sharing their “reading accomplishments in a risk-free nonthreatening way”. Hit it on the head, Julie! Thank you for sharing!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ruth February 22, 2018 at 7:34 am Reply

    Many K-8 teachers create book worms that stretch around their rooms. Giving view to reading accomplishments is crucial. I am so pleased to see more Middle and HS AND college educators realize that it isn’t a “sit down and listen to me” structure that engages students and make them life-long readers and learners. Kudos to all of you

    Liked by 1 person

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