The Book is the Hook

Have your students ever said, “I don’t like to read.” Or, “I can’t find any books that I like?”

Sound familiar?

When this happens, it’s easy to throw our hands in the air in frustration and give up.  Why can’t these kids stay focused? Why can’t they can’t read independently? Why can’t they be quiet?

In her book No More independent Reading without Support, Debbie Miller states that “the best way to build stamina is through engagement.” (2014, pg. 58) She then cites a study that when students have access to a wide variety of interesting texts (that they are able to choose on their own), reading gains are roughly four times as large as the small effect of systematic phonics instruction alone. (Guthrie and Humenick, 2004).

How do we help students find books that interest them?  When we add this to all the other responsibilities and strategies of our already busy teaching lives, this can seem like a daunting task.

It doesn’t need to be.  Here are a few quick ways to help your students get “hooked” on their own books. So you can spend more time actually teaching and less time monitoring off task behavior.

  1. Model how you choose books. Are you sharing the process that you go through as a reader? Try this with different baskets and genres in the classroom.  And if you are an avid reader at home, discuss the types of books that you read and how you find ones that you enjoy.
  2. Teach students about the different genres in your library. Showcase different genres in your daily/weekly read alouds and keep a living chart that lists all the books that you read as a class, along with the genre for each.
  3. Have class discussions about favorite genres/authors. Make a chart and display.

Our Favorite Books/Genres/Authors:

Judy Blume

Horrible Harry (series)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Flat Stanley

Jack Prelutsky

  1. Encourage students to keep track of their own favorite genres and books. Create a chart of click here for a sample recording log. Reading Interests
  2. Allow students time to choose books thoughtfully.
  3. Create a book rack or basket where students can display individual book recommendations. Customize the format of their recommendation, depending on their age and developmental level. For example, in third grade, they might write a summary of some of the highlights of the story on a notecard, without giving away too many details (or the ending). They can attach the card to the book. In primary grades, they might write one or two sentences about why they liked the story and/or draw a picture of their favorite part.
  1. Create a bulletin board with each student’s picture, along with the name of their favorite book. Allow this display to rotate throughout the year.
  2. Read books to your students that you love. Display them proudly and encourage the students to read them as well.

Read Aloud Spotlight: Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind is the story of a boy who absolutely hates reading and his teacher who is determined to help him find books that he loves…Take a moment to read it to your class as a way to develop a community of readers.  It is also good for a few laughs too, especially when the principal dyes his hair purple!


Parent Link: You can do this at home too!  Model how to choose books that interest you with your own book collection or on your weekly visits to the library.  Have conversations about favorite books and encourage your child to make a list.  And most importantly, read with your child every day!  We can never underestimate the power of reading aloud.

Ready to begin?  Just choose one of the tips above and get started today. Then share your progress and/or any other comments/ideas that you have!

Happy Reading,


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