Tracking and celebrating classroom reading goals can go a long way in getting kids excited about reading. Acknowledging student accomplishments really boosts their confidence, and it also helps them take ownership of the books they choose, which leads to even higher excitement and engagement.
So, are you ready to incentivize your students to reach those reading goals? Here’s some creative ways to get started …
Create a wall of book recommendations from students.
Libraries and bookstores often publicize book recommendations from their staff. You can create a similar display by having students share what they’re reading. Create simple cards with their name, what they’re reading, and why they recommend the book. Then put this the info, along with the book, in a classroom display. This will encourage other students to read these books, and it instills a sense of pride in the students who suggested them.
Make a small, powerful visual to track books.
For this idea you could borrow supplies from your math area—like these cube counters. Choose an area in the classroom that everyone can see, and add a cube for every book students read. It’s a simple visual, but a really fun way for students to create a group display of their reading success. Another idea could be to use a simple and inexpensive clear container like a fish bowl or a vase. Then add a marble, button, or other small object in the container for each book. Make this part of your weekly routine and let students count up their books and add cubes (or marbles, etc.) at the same time each week. You might even consider incentivizing students by rewarding them with something special when they fill it to the top.
Make a big, elaborate visual to track books.
If you have the space, then take your tracking system to the max. For instance, you can tear off a giant sheet of butcher paper and hang it on your door, or the walls of your classroom, and then ask students how they’d like to decorate it with something that represents the amount of books they’re reading. Perhaps they’ll want to put a painted handprint on the sheet for each book they’ve read. Or maybe they’ll want to create a faux book cover on a piece of construction paper and post it on the sheet. You could even have a class vote to decide on the final idea.
Give students an art project to track their individual success.
While group reading goals are a great way to bring students together, it’s also good to acknowledge students individually for their progress. Some kids are serious readers, and if they’re reading three times the number of books compared to their classmates, it’s good to acknowledge the achievement. A simple way to do this is to use beads or have students create individual art projects that capture the books they’ve read. If you like giving students options, check out this Twisteezwire Art Kit, which has several different ways to create art out of beads. And, here’s more art projects that might inspire you as well.
Hold a mystery book exchange.
For a mystery book exchange you can use books either from home or the classroom, and the concept is pretty simple. Have students find a book they absolutely love, and then write a little note to a “mystery” person of why they might like the book, too. Have students sign their names and put all the books in a mystery wrapping (like paper bags or even tissue paper), and do an exchange. Kids love sharing what they think with their classmates, and it’s a good way to try something new!
Create a video of book recommendations.
This one isn’t immediately visual, but it will be once you watch the video back as a group. To accomplish this, encourage students to pick a book to read and review. Let them know that this is a special project and have them choose something that’s challenging to them in some way. Then set up a little space in your classroom (or this can also be done virtually), and let students take turns reviewing their books. Have them show the cover of the book and then give a sentence or two about it. Try to keep the reviews as surprises so everyone watches the final video together. (Don’t worry about being tech-savvy for this one. You could simply turn the recording on/of for each student review, and then run them together as one video.)
Use a simple incentive chart.
Writing down goals, even on a small sheet of paper, can be powerful for establishing strong, healthy habits. Psychological studies show that we’re three times more likely to achieve goals when we write them down. So have students create their own goal sheets, or try a set like the ones pictured below. Encourage students to write their reading goals in each square, and cross each one off as they achieve it. With goals, it’s always good to be specific, so encourage students to dig deep to name the book title, the length of time they plan to read, as well as other details.
These are just a few thoughts to get your creative juices flowing, but don’t forget, when it comes to goals students love showing off their success. So celebrate reading achievements, both big and small, and watch the excitement grow!