Be passionate about reading
Reading for pleasure and reading widely makes you a great reading role model. Children’s author and advocate for reading Mem Fox believes teachers who are passionate about reading and children’s books pass that onto their students. She says:
The passion I am asking for from teachers is a passion beyond the pay cheque. It's a passion for children's books, as well as for their own reading, for if teachers don't love to read, why on earth should children?
— Mem Fox
Share your reading life with students
A useful starting point for being a reading model is to consider how you share your reading life as part of your teaching life.
The paper, Teachers as readers: perspectives on the importance of reading in teachers’ classroom and lives by Michelle Commeyras et al is an interesting discussion about the way teachers share their reading lives with their students. The paper is based on the experience of running 'Readers as Teachers and Teachers as Readers' seminars. The teachers considered aspects not commonly thought of as part of reading instruction in the classroom for example:
- how they read
- what and when they read, and
- how they share their reading with friends and colleagues.
Reflect on your reading experience
In her seminars Michelle Commeyras asked teachers to reflect on how they read themselves, the teachers asked themselves, 'Is this something I share with my students? Is this something that would be useful for students to know?' For example as a reader:
- Do we always finish the book? What are the reasons we abandon or persevere with a book?
- Do we read ahead? Find out the ending to enjoy the book more?
- Who is reading what?
- Who has a reading friend?
- What books make you cry?
- What is reading for pleasure?
- Should I read a really big book?
- Are you a 'born-again' reader? What was the book that brought you back to reading?
Reflect on your teaching practice
The seminar attendees thought about their teaching practice. For example, do they talk:
- with students about their reading lives
- about how their reading influences their writing
- about new vocabulary in their reading and how they go about understanding it
- to students about who influences them as readers — who inspires them.
They reflected on whether they tell students about:
- the reader relationships they form with students, family, and friends and with fiction and nonfiction characters
- the questions they have while reading
- how they select something to read, why they sometimes do not finish a text, and why they sometimes reread a text
- troubles they have had with reading
- the strategies they find helpful as readers
- what they are learning from reading.
Consideration was also given to whether the teachers:
- let their students see them reading a variety of texts
- find connections between their reading and their teaching of students
- teach passionately.
Teachers as readers: Perspectives on the importance of reading in teachers’ classroom and lives
Reading role models for boys
In teaching’s female-dominated profession, it is important for boys to see teacher's role modelling reading and to see male reading role models too. Fathers or other significant males in a boy’s life, who read and are seen to be readers, are vital. Encourage fathers to read with sons. Other ways to help provide positive male role models is to invite:
- guest readers who are men
- male authors and allow students time to interact with them through workshops on reading and writing.
Reluctant readers has information about boys' reading – why it's an issue and why it matters
My reading superhero
The My reading superhero competition encouraged New Zealand students to acknowledge and reward the teachers, librarians, parents and other reading role models who inspired them to become readers. They are presented in a series of fun, animated short videos where children share their experiences of effective reading role models.
My reading superhero
Expand your reading horizons
To be a reading role model, (sharing what you are going to read, and what you have read with your students) it’s important you continually add to your knowledge of children’s and young adult (YA) literature. As well as reading fiction, consider non-fiction topics that are likely to appeal to some boys and 'hook' them into reading. Remember all teachers are teachers of reading, not just English teachers.
- what you will read — genres, authors, series, formats, and
- where you will get your books from — school libraries, public libraries or the National Library.
Unless a school is staffed by people who enjoy books and enjoy talking to children about what they read then it is unlikely that they will be very successful in helping children to become readers'.
— Aidan Chambers
Ways to expand your knowledge of children's literature
You can increase your knowledge of children's literature in the following ways:
- Set yourself a challenge to increase your children's and Young adult (YA) book knowledge or join an existing challenge such as the Goodreads reading challenge.
- Keep a personal or classroom reading log online, for example, on Goodreads or LibraryThing.
- Ask your students for recommendations about what they think you should read. It shows you value their reading opinions.
- Ask for recommendations from local public librarians and bookshops.
- Are there expectations of teachers to be readers at your school? Set up a staff book club, promote books and book discussions in the staff rooms or during morning tea.
- Have library staff and literacy leaders work together to increase staff knowledge of Māori and Pasifika literature, including digital resources. This could form part of your professional learning programme.
- Attend your local school library network meetings with the Services to Schools facilitator. Contact 0800 LIB LINE (0800 542 5463) for more information.
"As teachers became more confident, autonomous and flexible in using their enriched subject knowledge, they began to articulate an informed and strategic rationale for selecting and using texts to support children’s reading for pleasure."
— Professor Teresa Cremin, Teachers as Readers: Building Communities of Readers
Goodreads reading challenge
Services to Schools facilitator
Reading for pleasure
Teachers as readers: building communities of readers (pdf, 149KB)
Be up-to-date with children's literature
There are a variety of resources, organisations that have reviews of children's and YA literature, book lists and ideas to help you decide what to read.
Websites and blogs
Connect to some blogs and publishers’ sites about children's and YA books such as:
The Children's Literature Web Guide — links to other children’s literature online resources
Create readers blog posts — Services to Schools blog with reviews of books and information about events and issues around reading
International Literacy Organisation — provides reading lists and other resources including an online catalogue of books focused on reading and literacy
Nancy Keane — ready-to-use book talks, lists of recommended reading, book reviews by children
Organisations events and awards celebrating reading — check out some of the book awards in New Zealand and overseas to see what is winning critical acclaim
Children's literature resources and organisations
Join reading and literary organisations to help keep connected and up-to-date with developments in reading and literacy research and literature. For example your local library and booksellers as well as:
Booksellers — the association of New Zealand booksellers.
Booktrust — this UK site has booklists and a bookfinder along with information, resources, and research around reading.
Hooked on books — a website for young adult (YA) readers about reviewing and New Zealand books.
Literacy online — Te Kete Ipurangi, helping primary and secondary teachers develop teaching and learning programmes based on the literacy needs of their learners.
New Zealand Book Council — Writers in Schools programme, bringing a writer or illustrator into their classroom.
New Zealand Literacy Association — focused on encouraging students to be motivated and enthusiastic readers and writers.
Reading rockets — resources for helping struggling readers.
SLANZA (School Library Association New Zealand Aotearoa) — aims to strengthen and promote the role of school libraries.
Storylines — supports and promotes the development of children’s and young adults' literature in New Zealand.
The sapling — a website all about children’s books with reviews, features, and interviews.