In an effort to cultivate his students’ love for reading, English Language Arts teacher at Tecler Elementary, Dale Comley, has started his own personal library right in his classroom.
By taking advantage of the school’s annual Scholastic Book Fair and collecting gently used books that are no longer wanted, Comley’s classroom library holds more than 1,000 titles. Organized by fiction, non-fiction and even by author and series, his fourth and fifth grade students can “check out” any book to read and enjoy.
“I’m always on the lookout for books,” Comley said. “These will get worn out and some will get lost, but it’s better to have books in their hands than not at all.”
While access to books is an important step to get students reading, Comley says the difficulty level of those books is an important factor, too.
“A lot of times students will have books, but they’re just not the right fit,” Comley said. “For example, a fifth-grader who reads a Dr. Seuss book for 30 minutes a day isn’t going to get a lot out of it because they’re not practicing their fluency – they’re way beyond that point.”
Instead, Comley said, ask your child’s teacher for book recommendations to encourage at-home reading. That way, they’re paired with a book that’s appropriate for them.
Aside from reading books, the students in Comley’s classes work together to find a deeper meaning behind the books they read as a class. For the fourth-graders, that means studying character development – or how the characters’ traits can change over the course of the book.
The fifth-graders dig a little deeper and study different themes throughout a book and second layer intention – why the author wrote the book, or what can be learned from the book.
“My big goal, especially with my fourth-graders because my fifth-graders are already at this point, is trying to convert them into actual readers,” Comley said. “There are kids who come in as avid readers, but I always try to set myself to those kids who say they hate reading. I try to change their mind about reading.”