Teaching Strategies: 5 Ways to Encourage Independent Reading

By: Admin 01 April, 2017

Reading is a critical attribute of a lifelong learner, yet many students seem to learn that reading is just something teachers make you do in school. The idea of reading for pleasure or reading for passion is foreign to many students when the only reading they know is the reading the teacher assigns. Instead of students reading because they have to, independent reading teaching strategies give students a chance to read because they want to. Instead of the teacher selecting and assigning reading material, the constraints are loosened and students are given the chance to have control.


Here are some golden guidelines to consider for making it a successful experience for your students.


  • Book Talk: A book talk is an opportunity for the teacher, librarian, or other well-informed adult to share a multitude of titles and topics with students. Book talks are an important component of the independent reading experience because often, students just don’t know the kinds of books that are out there.


  • Encourage Choice and Love: Independent reading is the time for teachers to help students to love reading. Help students find something they are personally excited about. Encourage students to find the kind of text they’re interested in reading, the kind of story they’re fascinated by, or the kind of nonfiction piece they want to learn from.


  • Class Time: Students always see what is important by how teachers approach it during class. For independent reading to be successful with your students, commit class time to it. Small interval in the day, 10 to 15 minutes; or a whole period once a week. If a teacher mandates reading as homework, it will feel forced and not enjoyable like it should be.



  • Modelling It: Students are more likely to engage in successful independent reading when it is modeled for them. In the designated class time for reading, the teacher should also put everything aside and read, to show how the kids should read. Discuss thoughts, comments, ideas with the class. This will encourage the kids because they will know they are being appreciated.


  • Accountability: Accountability helps us to ensure students are indeed using independent reading time for the purpose it is meant for, and it also helps teachers see where students are at with their reading skills and goals. Have students keep track of what or how much they read by writing it down. Reading logs can also be tied to individual or class reading goals.



After the students have developed an interest in reading, teachers can consider incorporating the following ideas to help students get the most out of independent reading in class.


  • Have students write down a reading goal and track their progress.

  • Have students compose book reviews, starting with simple descriptions. They could also make a GoodReads account and connect with other book readers who like similar topics.

  • Remind students that abandoning a book they’re not enjoying is OK.

  • Make books easily available to students by regular trips to the library.


Independent reading is an easy and effective way to reinforce the joy of reading. However, teachers cannot just show up in the classrooms and say, “Read now!” to students. Facilitating independent reading in classrooms means creating a culture of readers and establishing the procedures to smoothly incorporate the practice. There is no one right way to make independent reading a successful regular activity – take these guidelines and tips and do what you feel will work best for your students!

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