Encourage your discouraged readers!

By L. Robert Furman 5/26/2015 Literacies

The 21st century is an exciting time of change. A great deal of that change is an outgrowth of the technological explosion. But our children have no concept of this “change” because technology has always been a part of their lives. 

In this digital environment, it is more important than ever that children are proficient readers. Yet we continue to see students in our classrooms who we label “reluctant readers” — those who can read but choose not to. We need to help these discouraged students find their motivation or passion for reading.

While there is no easy way to make kids want to read, we all know the odds are better if an activity seems popular, cool and fun. One way to do that is through technology. Here are some digital tools that can help engage students in reading.

Goodreads. This tool offers a social experience that allows reluctant readers to share their thoughts and ideas with others who have read the same book. Students can engage in lively online conversations, take quizzes created by other kids and play games. Goodreads helps students feel that important connection to a group.

ePals. Students from anywhere in the world can gather to discuss literature via ePals, an online community of collaborative classrooms engaged in cross-cultural exchanges, project sharing and language learning. The excitement of discussing a book with another “pal” across the country or on the other side of the world is unmatched for its ability to motivate reluctant readers.

TouchCast. This app gives students a virtual news center and the ability to integrate video into the web experience. This is a cool tool that allows students to create book talks and even start a book talk channel on YouTube.

Bitstrips for Schools. Do kids still have fun reading comic books? The answer is yes. Bitstrips is an online tool that allows students to create their own comic strips.  It’s also an avenue to creativity that encourages students to write and interact with one another about their stories.

Technology tools can help you spark a love of reading in your students, so don’t be afraid to bend and expand the rules of reading. Let them read their books online. Let them read a graphic novel from their tablets or laptops. Let them use Book Wizard to find a new read. Let them watch book talks created by other kids on YouTube. Let them discuss what they have read with someone online, either in a book club chatroom or by writing a blog post. All of these possibilities will make reading fun and highly motivating for our children. 

Rob Furman is the author of the ISTE book Technology, Reading & Digital Literacy.

Get more ideas about how to motivate readers in Furman’s free webinar, “Strategies for Encouraging the Discouraged Reader.

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