Reading Motivation and Fun

Regardless of what reading program or strategies you use in your classroom, reading needs to be fun. Students should be encouraged to pick up books that interest, fascinate, educate, and entertain them. There are many ways that you can help promote the joy of reading in your classroom. Here are a few ideas:

  • Take weekly trips to the school library

    Let students choose their own books. Encourage students to read their library books whenever they've finished an assignment early, or if you set aside free reading time in class.

  • Read books out loud to your class

    If you choose good books and read with enthusiasm, students will look forward to this cozy routine. Reading from a captivating story for 10-15 minutes after lunch or recess will model reading fluency as well as foster a positive association with books. (It's also a good way to settle the class down!)

  • Learn about your favorite children's authors and illustrators

    See Reading Rockets' booklists and in-depth interviews with Tomie dePaola, Joanna Cole, Chris Van Allsburg, and many more. Authors of particular interest for English language learners (ELLs) might be George Ancona, Pat Mora, Pam Muñoz Ryan, and Laurence Yep.

Here are a few suggestions for making reading more fun and accessible for your ELL students in particular:

Introduce students to books with familiar topics

Just like anyone else, ELL students like to see and read things that they can relate to. If an eight year-old girl grew up in Mexico, she might enjoy Gary Soto's book, Too Many Tamales. If a Hispanic boy lives in an urban neighborhood in the U.S., he might relate to George Ancona's book, Barrio: José's Neighborhood. Here are a few places to find more multicultural books:

Introduce parents to the public library

You might be surprised at how many parents of ELLs do not understand that public libraries in the United States are free and for everyone. Try organizing an informal "field trip" with parents (and possibly children) early in the school year to the closest public library. Here are a few tips:

  • Coordinate with a branch librarian beforehand

    Find out what parents will need to bring in order to get a library card. (They should not be required to show proof of citizenship). Make sure a librarian (preferably bilingual) will be there to give parents a tour, answer their questions, and sign them up for a library card. If you need a Spanish-English interpreter, a well-connected bilingual parent might be invaluable for translating and recruiting other parents.

  • Invite parents ahead of time in their native language

    Emphasize that libraries are open to everyone – offering books, music, and videos to borrow for free. Clearly list what parents need to bring in order to get a library card. Include a map of all local branch libraries, with your meeting time and place highlighted. Answer any questions that parents may have.

  • Visit the library page

    You can read this page in English, and then print it out in Spanish to give to parents.

  • Suggest weekly trips to the library

    Encourage parents to make library visits a regular part of their routine. Let them know that this is a wonderful way to support their children's education.

Encourage parents to read with their children (in any language!)

During your trip to the library, or any other time, you can show the parents of your ELL students (or print the pages from) Colorín Colorado. Particular sections of interest might be For Families, and Books and Authors.

Many Spanish-speaking parents hesitate to read with their children because they fear it will interfere with their children's English. Reassure parents that reading in Spanish will actually help their children gain important literacy skills that they can then transfer to reading in English.


For any reprint requests, please contact the author or publisher listed.
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