5 Tips to Foster a Love of Reading in High School Students

Dec 15, 2023
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All educators can agree that reading is an important skill for success in the classroom and in future careers. However, getting this message across to your high school students can feel like a momentous challenge. There are many reasons why your students may not enjoy reading—maybe they struggle with overall literacy skills or just can’t seem to find books that are engaging to them. Regardless of the reason for a reluctance of reading, there are many ways that you as an educator can encourage a love of reading in your students. Check out our list of five tips to get you started:

Find the right subject

Sometimes, all a reluctant reader needs is the right topic or genre to read about. Encourage your students to pick up any book that interests them, no matter the subject. Coach your students to experiment with reading different topics or genres that they’re not familiar with. Tell your students to not feel overwhelmed or intimidated by a book based on its perceived difficulty. Resist the urge to challenge the type of book your student picks up because, at the end of the day, reading is reading! Letting your students have choice in what they read will encourage them to read more often. Looking for suggestions for your students? Check out our book list for grades 9–12, organized by genre!

Do you teach a course where current events are mentioned as part of your lessons? Leverage current event news in your classroom as a way to get your students interested in reading. Encourage your students to keep up on what’s happening in the world by subscribing to an online magazine or newspaper. Do you have students who are particularly interested in sports, politics, the economy, or celebrity news? Have them find an online source to begin reading daily.

Make real-world connections

The truth is that reading is a fundamental skill that students will need to be successful when pursuing college or other career options. When exploring potential career options with your students, make the connection of the ways that reading might lead to potential career success. Keep this conversation positive—it should not be meant to scare your students into reading but rather to show them the importance of developing the skill of reading. Many successful entrepreneurs even cite that a lifelong habit of reading has helped them achieve success in their careers.

Consider alternative texts

Exposing your students to a variety of texts helps them uncover a format that suits them best. Educators can often feel pressured to have their students read scholarly material, but variety is important in building a love of reading in students. Consider letting your students choose options like graphic novels and comic books, e-books, plays and scripts, books of riddles or jokes, or even blogs and magazines. Each of these different forms of reading offers a unique purpose, voice, and exposure to both fiction and nonfiction texts.

Turn to audiobooks

Audiobooks can also be a great resource for reluctant readers. Have your students sit down and listen to an audio recording of a book, and encourage them to follow along with a physical copy of the book. Listening activities can help your students increase their comprehension, remove barriers to navigating through the mechanics of reading, and let their imaginations run wild by hearing someone else tell the story with inflection.

Make reading a part of your classroom culture

Model reading behaviors that you want to see in your students by weaving it into your classroom culture. Focus on making these practices and conversations events that aren’t graded or part of an assignment. Talk about the book you’re currently reading, build silent reading time into class, or encourage your students to share what they’re reading with the class.

Think about how you can encourage reading in your class beyond the typical ELA standard—the focus here is to take the pressure of academic reading off of students and to instead cultivate positive feelings about reading. While some might thinksilly, consider reading aloud to your high school class! Find an engaging short story that fits into your curriculum, and let your students kick back, relax, and listen. You’ll be surprised at how much your students will enjoy it!

Looking for more ways to encourage positive reading habits in your students? Check out this blog post on how to strike a balance between reading for skill versus reading for pleasure!

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