Beginning Readers – How to Encourage and Support Early Readers

Reading is a critical skill that all children should learn to be as successful as possible in life. Reading boosts vocabulary, helps children express themselves, and gives them empathy for situations other than their own. Students who learn to read early are more confident and show better memory retention than students who cannot read. There’s no doubt that the ability to read will yield benefits that no other life skill can. In this post, we’ll go over several ways you can encourage and support early readers while making reading fun!

Read Aloud Every Day

If you only do one thing mentioned in this post for the early readers in your classroom, make it this one. Reading aloud is one of the absolute best ways to get students interested in reading and motivated to read more themselves. Choose books and stories that are age and grade-level appropriate, with captivating plot lines and interesting characters. Read aloud with a distinct voice and personality for each character to draw the students more into the story. Keep the reading time short, especially at first, and gradually increase the time as the school year proceeds. Don’t be surprised at how much your students look forward to reading time every day!

Repetition is Preferred

Younger students love repetition, and will often ask to hear and/or read the same book over and over…and that’s great! Repetition helps children learn to recognize words and patterns in speech and feel more comfortable with their own reading skills, so encourage repetitive reading as much as possible.

Create a Quiet & Welcoming Reading Space

No one can read well with a bunch of noise and distractions, and this is especially true for budding readers. Create a quiet, inviting, and comfortable space away from the hustle and bustle of the classroom. Many teachers choose to create a corner reading nook with lots of pillows, plushies, stuffed animals, and comfy seats. Some even enclose the area with curtains or blankets to give it the extra cozy vibe. Provide shelves or baskets of grade level-appropriate books in the reading area so students don’t have to leave to choose a new book or find their favorite one. Reading spaces usually perform best when only a few students are using it at one time.

Provide Many Reading Options

Young students have varied interests and preferences just like adults, so don’t limit them to reading just one type or genre of book. Provide them with many options of book topics to choose from so that all students can find something they enjoy.

Let Them Retell the Story

After reading aloud sessions or quiet reading time, ask the students to retell the story in their own words. It’s always amazing at how differently their little minds will interpret what they’ve heard or read, and hearing other students’ interpretations will help them develop critical thinking skills and expand their perception.

Use Props

During read-aloud sessions, or when asking students to retell what they’ve read, use a variety of props to make the story more entertaining, engaging, and memorable. Some prop ideas could be finger puppets, felt storyboards, magnet boards, masks, costumes, stuffed animals, action figures, and other novelty items.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

After a read-aloud session or quiet reading time, ask the students open-ended questions about what they just read. Avoid questions that will only yield a yes or no answer, as these don’t provoke insight or stimulate the imagination like open-ended questions will. Some example questions may include:

  • How do you think the character felt in the story?
  • What would you have done if you were the main character in the story?
  • If you could change the story’s ending, what ending would you give it?

Add New Reading Options Frequently

While the students may enjoy repetition, they will eventually tire of reading the same selections. Rotate new books and reading materials in and out of their choices for read-aloud time or quiet reading time to keep things fresh. If a student requests a specific book or reading material topic, do your best to find what they’ve asked for. Sometimes that’s all it takes to inspire a lifetime passion for reading!

Play Games and Make Art About Things They’ve Read

After the students have heard or read a story, reinforce the concepts and themes with games and art activities. You could make custom bingo cards with words from the story, ask students to create a paper mache sculpture of their favorite character, or play a round of pictionary with all answers related to the story. The possibilities here are truly endless! You can bet that your students will love spending class time playing games and being creative so much that they won’t even realize they’re learning too.

Offer Plentiful Praise

Students thrive on praise and recognition, so for a skill as important as reading, you really need to lay it on thick. Offer praise and celebration more often than not, both at times when the students read well and when they’re struggling. Establish a liberal rewards system for reading assignments and reward students often. And don’t stop at just verbal praise…students love receiving something tangible for their hard work and effort too. Pens, pencils, highlighters, art supplies, fidget and sensory toys, cool erasers, and other school supplies are great to use for a classroom rewards system to encourage and celebrate reading. If you make reading a positive and fun experience, students will want to continue it for life.

Avoid Frustration

It’s easy to become frustrated when students just aren’t grasping a concept as quickly as you’d hoped for, but do your best to avoid showing signs of frustration to young readers. Since the process of learning to read is already fraught with mistakes, young readers are prone to becoming frustrated when they cannot figure things out. When the teacher also becomes frustrated, the negative effects just multiply, and learning comes to a screeching halt. Practice stress-management techniques like deep breathing, meditation, positive affirmations, and quiet time if you feel yourself getting a little too close to the edge, and remember that your positivity during this time will have an effect on your students for the rest of their lives.

Inspire a Love of Reading in Your Students

Teachers who help students learn to read have one of the most important jobs in our society. By implementing these tactics to encourage and support early readers, they can plant the seeds for a love of learning and success in their students’ lives, giving them hope of reaching their dreams as they enter adulthood.

GEDDES helps teachers support early readers with fun prizes and rewards that students really want. Our selection of school supplies, art supplies, novelty toys, desk pets, and more makes the perfect stock for any classroom rewards system, school store, school fundraiser, book fair, or other school event.