When was the last time you picked up a book to read for pleasure? An actual hand-held book with paper pages? These days there are plenty of distractions that keep us from reading, even healthy ones like soccer, chess, or piano practice, dinner with the family, and a little outdoor play. Factor in the digital age and reading for pleasure seems a little like a lost treasure. 

Inspiring young readers happens across all grade levels at The Lexington School in various and sundry ways. This is part one of a three-part blog series highlighting three divisions of readers and how the three Cs, COMMUNITY, COMPETITION, and CULMINATION, successfully factor into building positive student experiences with books and a lifelong enthusiasm for reading. 

PART ONE: FIRST GRADE

Community

Reading aloud is a primary function of building reading comprehension and motivated readers. You will find teachers reading aloud in almost every classroom and at various hours of the day at The Lexington School, yet reading out-loud for our young ones can be a daunting prospect. First graders are burgeoning readers. Some read fluently while others are still working it out. Inspiring each child in an individual way takes a thoughtful and creative approach. 

Like this: Ms. Hetman’s first-grade class started a Pet Adoption Agency. The pets (stuffed animals) are very good and reliable listeners, non-judgemental for sure. First graders choose books based upon their individual level and interest, and they read to their pet community aloud in their own voice, feeling confident in their approach and inspired by their inevitable growth. It’s fun. They feel their own progress. They want to read more. 

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Competition

Even as early as first grade, adding a little “goal-setting” to reading inspires early readers. Ms Eakle’s class participates in #BookADay Challenge, a reading initiative created for summer inspiration that easily transfers to the school year. The rules of engagement are easy to implement in any classroom: 

  • You set your own start date and end date.
  • Read one book per day.
  • Any book qualifies including picture books, nonfiction, professional books, audiobooks, graphic novels, poetry anthologies, or fiction.
  • Keep a list of the books you read and share them often via a social networking site like GoodReads, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Use the #bookaday hashtag to find other participants and share your recommendations. You do not have to post reviews, but you can if you wish. Titles will do.

Ms Eakle keeps a reading tower inside her classroom (instead of posting to social media) where her class can see their personal progress. “We read, discuss, review and the children really enjoy when we post another book to our (literal) wall! It’s just one piece of many reading initiatives we have in first grade, but it is a fun way to encourage reading for pleasure.” 

#BookADay

Culmination 

Daily reading aloud eventually segues into a trip across the school to Preschool, where first-graders visit their former classrooms, lovingly embraced by their proud Kindergarten or Montessori teachers, and read aloud to the class, showcasing (and role-modelling) their excitement for reading. “Reading aloud is a practice in courage and a moment of pride for these developing readers,” says Amy Coates, a first-grade teacher. Eventually, every reader will take the journey to preschool for their moment to shine. 

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Three examples from three first-grade classrooms on the three C’s of inspiring reading show how simple cultivating courage and curiosity can be if you put your mind to it. How can the three C’s help you become a reader again? 

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