4 top tips to help you encourage teens to read
Updated: Aug 2, 2021
Donatella Fitzgerald is a teacher and teacher trainer. Her specialist interest areas are CLIL, Young Learners, Mindfulness, Debate, Assessment, SEN and Extensive Reading. In her current role as ELT Sales Manager at Pearson she works with teachers and students every day to find solutions to help them achieve their teaching and learning goals.
Tip 1: Give them a choice of great Graded Readers
Reading can help students escape into new worlds and switch off from the day, helping them cope with stress and worry. The outcomes of reading will occur more often and more strongly if reading is enjoyable in the first instance. This is why the ‘for pleasure’ element of reading for pleasure is so important.
The benefits of reading are more likely to be felt when reading takes place through free choice. Give your students a large choice of graded readers of different genres and at the right level. Ask them what genres they know and then do a class survey to find out which they like reading most.
Pearson English Graded Readers offer teenagers a large range of genres at all levels. The series offers world-renowned stories – fiction, non-fiction, biographies, cinematic readers, plays, short stories and classics – rewritten for English learners.
Show your students the Pearson English Readers website and encourage them to choose a book they want to read. They may be interested in detective stories, classics, Doctor Who, Marvel or other cinematic readers. All readers have activity sheets to help teachers provide pre-and-post reading activities to engage students.
Tip 2: Involve the students in a collaborative group activity
A reading circle is a strategy where the teacher puts students into groups to read a whole book, or one or more chapters. At the end of the project, each group creates a presentation to deliver to the class. Reading circles reinforce listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in a supportive and collaborative environment.
What’s more, they encourage students to deepen their understanding of a chosen text, as students are encouraged to talk about the book they are reading with their classmates. They discuss plots, specific language used, and personal experiences, think about the characters and make connections to the outside world and citizenship.
Students work collaboratively and think about and discuss what they have read. At the same time, they are guided towards deeper comprehension and are encouraged through active learning to take an interest in other student’s ideas.
This type of collaborative project works perfectly in a face-to-face or remote teaching situation. It can be a way nudging reluctant readers to read. You can help your students deepen discussions about books, create lifelong readers and build a respectful classroom community.
How to lead a reading circle
Create your reading circles by forming groups of four to seven students. Learners should be at the same reading level and also have similar interests, where possible.
The objective of each circle is to read the book and prepare a presentation to share with the whole class. Each group decides collaboratively which reader they would like to read together, however, ask each group to read a different book so you have a variety of presentations.
Reading circles should be fully student led. Students are empowered and supported by their peers as they all have a specific and important role to play. Through the project and preparing the digital responses students learn digital skills and improve their digital literacy and critical thinking.
Suggested reading circle roles:
Slides Wizard: Creates the slides for the presentation
Presentation Wizard: Helps with the presentation to the class
Artistic Wizard: Looks at the illustrations in the book (this could be good for students with dyslexia)
Film Wizard: Finds information about the film version if there is one
Word Wizard: Finds new or key words
Summary Wizard: Writes/creates a summary/visual summary of the plot
Sentence Wizard: Finds important quotations, sentences in the book
Character Wizard: List/description of characters
Places in the book Wizard: Finding out about symbolic locations in the book
Students can present their Reading Circles project in a number of different ways. For example:
A powerpoint presentation
A Padlet (interactive notice board where they can each post their comments, files pictures and audio and video recordings).
While students are watching the presentations they should give feedback to the groups presenting using the ‘Two Stars and a Wish’ feedback form. Here, they are encouraged to give praise for what is done well (two stars) and to suggest an area for improvement (a wish).
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