Reading What They Want

In class the other day, a common question that was repeatedly asked was, “how do you get unmotivated children to read?” Different people mentioned that these children do not seem to have any idea of what they want to read. So how do you motivate them? One scholar mentioned that she often tried to give these students books or other pieces of literature that they are interested in. For example, if a child is interested in sports, perhaps give them a biography of Jackie Robinson. If a child is interested in science, perhaps give them a book on volcanos. I think that this is a great idea and would work with most children, but what if a child does not know what he or she is truly interested in?

I was one of those kids as a child who was not sure what they were truly interested. Although I did like to read, I was all over the place with books. First I would read a piece of historical fiction, then a sci-fi thriller followed by a mystery book. Because I would read such different types of literature, it was difficult to decide what to read next. How should a teacher or educator combat a student who, like me, said that they were interested in everything and won’t give you any helpful clues to suggest a book?  Or a student who says that they are not interested in anything? I would suggest giving them a little bit of everything.

In 5th grade, our school received these student magazines sponsored by Scholastic called Scholastic News. These magazines had cool, age appropriate articles on a wide variety of subjects. Some articles were about animals, others were about history and others were about the changing environment. These magazines seem like the perfect solution for this common question of “how do you get an unmotivated child to read?” Children can just flip through the magazine and find what they are interested in and then read that article. I loved these magazines and I think that most other kids in my grade also really enjoyed them.

Because I hadn’t been exposed to these magazines since elementary school, I visited the company’s website to learn more. The company makes these magazines for Pre-K to sixth grade and focuses on non-fiction science or social studies articles. They are weekly magazines and are designed to help meet some of the standards of Common Core. In addition, they have a variety of online tools readily available for teachers or students to further engage in these great magazines. In addition, they have specialty magazines for specific subjects such as art, math and current science. These more subject specific magazines might aid children who do not have a desire to read if it is one of the subjects that they constantly read in the grade level magazines.

Now, I understand that all schools might not have the resources to be able to get these awesome magazines, but I believe that the premise behind it would work perfectly.  Instead of receiving the weekly magazines, students could instead be given a group of different article pulled from the internet on various subjects to facilitate this desire to read. In addition there are computer and cellphone apps which also can provide these fascinating articles that might also encourage children to read. There any many different ways to encourage children to read, but I believe that giving students a wide variety to peruse and then decided on would really help to encourage children to read.



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4 Responses to Reading What They Want

  1. khjinni says:

    I really like your suggestion on giving students a variety of genres to read. But instead of limiting the choices to news articles, why not include short samples of novels and other fictional stories? It seems like the magazine mostly publish non-fiction news, but some students are immediately turned off by non-literary writings. Sharing both non-fiction and fiction works to motivate students might work better for a wider population. Also, helping students get familiar with libraries seem like a good option too.


  2. jmroney says:

    We had Scholastic magazine at my elementary school too! It was probably one of the most fun aspects of reading that I experienced at this age. Another thing that I really enjoyed was choosing my own book from the school library to do a book report on in 6th grade. I remember that the assignment was for us to recreate the book artistically using materials that we had around the house, and then retell the basic story of the book to our classmates. We had an entire semester to read the book and kept up with the reading through chapter check ins. Anyway, my point is that I definitely agree that being able to choose a book of interest helps, and if you are someone that simply just cannot decide, then hearing about what other people enjoy or what teachers suggest is often a great start!


  3. marrisarose says:

    Would this be like a small magazine of assorted articles/ short stories? It sounds like a great idea. Maybe I could elaborate on that idea more in my blog post? What do you think?


    • cerouse2015 says:

      Hi. Yes, the magazines consisted of short articles and stories. All of the articles were non-fiction in this magazine. Sure you can elaborate on this idea in your blog post. I would love to hear your insight on this issue


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