Saturday, October 20, 2012

Student Book Recommendations: Getting Students Excited About Reading

Today, as I was browsing Twitter, @donalynbooks posed a question that made me reflect on my practices as a principal.  She asked: What are principals doing to get students excited about reading?

In my post titled, Kicking Off the Year Promoting Reading, I outlined 5 steps I was taking to set the stage for a culture of reading at my school.  Today, I'd like to highlight one of the things that is happening as a result of some of the steps I have taken to become a major promoter of reading at my school.

Student Book Recommendations
As students became excited about my morning book reviews and recommendations as part of my 180 #bookaday challenge, I started having students come to me in passing and telling me about a book they were reading and that I "just had to read it" too.  I started having teachers have their classes share a book with me that they were really excited about as I went in to do walk-throughs, observations, or visits.  I thought, I'm onto something here.  So, I decided to have students begin making formal recommendations to me.  I gave teachers master copies of book recommendation forms and purchased a "magic book" for the students to drop the recommendations into.  (One of those decorative boxes that look like a book that you can find in any home decorating store.)  Then, I shared my "magic book" on the announcements and told the students they could choose to recommend books they were reading to me and I would select one student each week to join me on the morning announcements.  Another bonus here--they have to write and explain why the book is worthy of their recommendation!  I have posted all of the recommendations on the doors to my office. I am beginning to run out of space and plan to begin covering a bulletin board outside my office too.  The students are so excited to hear their name called as a presenter and their eyes light up when they see that I have their recommendation hanging in my office. 

We are becoming a school community that talks about books, recommends books to others, and views reading as an exciting component of our culture.  Through my daily reading challenge, I am reading some great books and feel better equipped to match readers with books.  I am trying to lead by example and show my students the joy of reading, and I am reaping the rewards of hearing the excitement in their voices or seeing it in their writing when they are recommending books to me. Just by reading and having a dialogue about books, we are well on our way to becoming a school where readers flourish.