Killing the Love of Reading in the Elementary Classroom

Killing the Love of Reading

Teachers almost always have the best interest at heart for their students.  They want what’s best for them.  Teachers will also go to almost any length to ensure their students’ success.  Unfortunately, through the years – there have been some habits, programs, and actions that teachers and administrators take that are doing the complete opposite of what their intentions are.  They are killing the love of reading!  What are these actions or programs?  Let’s dive into 5 different ways schools just might be killing the love of reading and what you can do to change it!

Reason #1 for Killing the Love of Reading – Always reading for ‘something’

I get it.  I’m guilty of it.  And I realize now that this is a huge factor in whether students foster a true love of reading.  Having students always reading for ‘something’ shows them that we read to do and not to enjoy.  We read a text to find the main idea.  We read a text to fill in a graphic organizer.  Or we read a text to answer these questions.  There is almost always something tacked onto the end of their reading.

What students need is to learn to read for THEM.  They need to read for fun, enjoyment, and pleasure.  They need to know that reading can take place even when we don’t have a task to do afterward.  Teachers and admin need to ensure that every teacher allows time in their classroom/school for students to just read!  No test, no Accelerated Reader quiz, no reading log, and no graphic organizer.  Just read, enjoy and share!

Want ideas of other things we don’t have to do when teaching reading – check this out!

Reason #2 – Using Levels

killing the love of reading I understand why teachers want to do this.  We want to keep our students ‘safe’.  So to keep them safe and away from frustration, we limit their reading choices to specific levels, or even sometimes (in some specific reading programs) we limit the genres they read.  Restricting choices for students absolutely is killing the love of reading for our students.  It’s telling them that you are not capable to read this book.

When we limit student choices, especially because of their ‘level’ we begin to teach the students that their reading level is their identity.  You are a level K and therefore you can only read a level K.  Student voice and choice in what they read is the single most important factor in ensuring a love of reading.  Who cares if they read a book that’s too easy for them.  Books that are easy help with decoding and practice fluency.  And if the book is too hard?  They will see that and make that decision for themselves.  Or better yet – they will be so motivated to read the book that they will use strategies to push through the difficult areas.  They can make these decisions.  We don’t have to make them for them.  Take off any and all restrictions and see what happens!

Reason #3 for Killing the Love of Reading – Skipping the Read Aloud

Is reading a priority in your classroom?  If you answered yes, then how can you prove that?  Do you read aloud every day?  I mean every single day without interruption.  Have a 1/2 day due to a program or a two-hour delay due to weather?  Your read-aloud should still happen.  Did the math lesson go too long?  The read-aloud should still happen.  Skipping the read-aloud shows our students that reading isn’t the priority in the classroom.

Research shows us that one of the main factors in fostering a love of reading in our students is through reading aloud.  Even in the upper grades and in middle school – we show our students that reading is fun and needs to be a part of our everyday lives by reading TO them.  But when we skip the read-aloud, we show them that there are other priorities.  And when it happens once, it happens twice.  Then it becomes a habit and before we know it, we haven’t read out loud to our students in weeks.  Not reading to our students is definitely a surefire way to kill the love of reading.  Make it a priority!

Reason #4 – Limiting Types of Books

I’ll just say it this way…  Reading is reading is reading.  It doesn’t matter WHAT you’re reading.  If a student is interested in cooking and wants to read a recipe book, let them!  If a studentkilling the love of reading is into graphic novels – hooray!  There is no such thing as the ‘wrong thing to read.

Our classroom libraries should be filled with a wide variety of types of books to ensure that all of our readers have access to something they will enjoy.  This might include chapter books, picture books, graphic novels, coffee table books, anthologies, how-to books, cookbooks, magazines – literally everything goes.  Reading is reading and if a student is motivated to read something, we dare not shatter that happiness and motivation by limiting their actions.  Let them read what they want because their love of reading is far more important than the type or level of book in which they are reading.

Reason #5 for Killing the Love of Reading – Not Book Matching

This one is one I see happening most often.  Teachers rely on students to pick the best books for them.  Teachers are very hands-off in the book matching process.  This is absolutely problematic.  Book matching is our job.  We cannot rely on and be 100% confident that every student is happy with the book they have chosen.  So what is book matching?  This is the process in which teachers help students find the best books for them.  Teachers take into consideration the student’s interests, genre, past book likes, etc.  They physically look through books with the student and talk about them.  We make recommendations.  Above all, we don’t let the student settle for a book.

When students match their own books and teachers are hands-off, this is when students start falling out of love with reading.  They are picking books that they don’t love.  And when they do this over and over again, they learn that reading isn’t enjoyable.  Do you have to do this with every student and every book?  No!  But for our reluctant readers – yes, until you find that spark.  This is especially important at the beginning of the year when we’re getting to know all of our readers, too.  Being more hands-on with book matching can completely change the trajectory of a reader.  It only takes ONE book for a student to fall in love with reading.  We should be doing everything we can to help them find that one book!

So what do you think?  Did you find something that you or your school might be doing that’s killing the love of reading?  How can we fix it?  Make sure to save this post for later by pinning the image below!

How we are killing the love of reading pin

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I’m a wife, a mommy of 3, blogger, and a full time teacher author and presenter. I love to read, shop, and spend time with my family! My hands are always busy, but my heart is so full!

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