This blog post was written by guest contributor Juan Gonzalez, Jr.

Since becoming an educator, I have discovered that the next best thing to reading books is being able to share books with growing readers. For as long as I can remember, reading has been a hobby that allows me to escape and enlighten myself about our world. Once I began teaching, I thought that sharing and growing a readerly life would be one of the easiest tasks to begin implementing with students. What I soon realized is that the journey with literacy is not the same for everyone. For some of us, the love of reading is innate, but others need more guidance to become readers. Over the years, while working with students and continuing my learning with literacy instruction, the common thread in my work has been reading engagement. If we want growing learners to want to be readers, we have to show them the value of reading. Here are three reading strategies for elementary students that will help push your reading instruction past academics and into setting up your students to develop and sustain their love for reading.

The Books You Share Should Be Like a Rainbow: Inclusive, Colorful and Inspiring!

If you are familiar with shopping online or browsing your favorite movies with online streaming, you might have noticed how the program’s algorithm is really good at showing you items or movies that you might find interesting. It leaves you in a never-ending circle of browsing and watching all the things that you enjoy. When sharing books with readers, it’s important to stay away from your own personal algorithm. It is always easy to stick to the topics and genres you love, but stepping out of your personal bubble is how you create space for all types of readers.

An exciting element to developing reading strategies for elementary students is finding various books to enhance your teaching and build a community of readers. When looking for books for your classroom, find literature that represents the students in your classroom, culture, different communities and the content you teach. Sharing your personal favorites is important because readers will see authentic passion about a book, but also allow yourself to explore and build your own knowledge of books.

Empower Readers with Choice

Let growing readers read whatever they want. One of the biggest challenges when it comes to reading instruction in the classroom is that our school curriculum asks students to read texts that are not always something they choose. If the reading experience we create for our students is never about what they love to read, the students won’t grow as readers. In honoring the students by giving them the option to choose literature they find interesting, you build a trust with your students and they become more willing to try new texts you present in your classroom instruction. It is all about balance. Allow readers to read and reread whatever they want and this will build their confidence to step outside of their comfort zone and grow.

Talk the Talk with Book Talks

I love seeing movie trailers for upcoming movies. It’s a perfect small glimpse into a movie that makes us say “I want to watch that!” Book Talks create the same experience for readers. A Book Talk consists of someone (a teacher or student) sharing a book they’ve read with the hopes of convincing a potential reader to pick up the book and read it too. These talks should go beyond saying, “I love this book,” by giving the class insight into what to expect from the plot or the characters. These talks are an engaging and simple way to build your classroom reading community. These book sale pitches create a buzz and expose students to various texts. A great Book Talk is best delivered with passion. Use a voice filled with excitement. Hold the book in your hand and always leave your listeners with a cliffhanger! After your students have seen their teacher share books, you’ll see many will want to follow your lead and share books that they love.

To learn more about reading strategies for elementary students and how you can advance your education in the field, check out UWA’s online bachelor’s degree program for elementary education here. UWA offers a completely online educational experience that allows you to complete your degree while maintaining your professional responsibilities. Learn from experienced educators and discover how to make a bigger impact in your classroom.

Juan Gonzalez is an elementary teacher in Houston, Texas. You can follow him on Instagram.