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25 Strategies to Encourage Literacy in the Classroom (Even for Kids Who Hate to Read)

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January 03, 2024


As an educator, you recognize the importance of literacy skills for your students’ future success. 

However, you may have noticed some children who are struggling to engage in reading, regardless of your efforts to encourage them. 

Maybe they see reading as uninteresting or simply too difficult, or perhaps they have a hard time focusing when reading. Perhaps they experience a major summer regression in their reading skills. 

Regardless of the reason, every child deserves the opportunity to develop strong literacy skills. 

To help inspire uninterested children, we’ve gathered 25 different literacy strategies that you can implement in your classroom! These strategies will engage your students and make reading a more enjoyable and meaningful experience for them.

What Are Some Strategies to Promote Literacy Development?

strategies to promote literacy

As a teacher, you understand the importance of promoting literacy in your classroom. Literacy development is an essential aspect of a student’s academic and personal growth, yet it can be a challenging task.

Developing reading and writing skills in students requires patience, consistency, and creative strategies that work for them. Here are some strategies you can try!

1. Know Your Students 

One of the most critical aspects of promoting literacy development in your classroom is understanding your students’ reading levels. Knowing where each student’s strengths and weaknesses are can help you tailor your teaching approach and keep them engaged in the learning process. 

To get started, conduct a reading assessment for each student to determine their reading level. 

Once you have established their reading level, provide reading materials that match their level, and gradually increase the complexity as they progress. By providing appropriate reading materials, you can also help them build their vocabulary and reading comprehension.

2. Make Vocabulary Learning Fun 

Vocabulary plays a vital role in literacy development. The more words a student knows, the better they can understand reading comprehension and writing. However, memorizing vocabulary can be quite dull for students. 

To make it more engaging and exciting, use everyday experiences to teach new words, create interactive word games, and use technology such as vocabulary apps to help improve their word recognition. 

When you integrate fun, interactive activities to teach vocabulary, you make learning exciting and memorable.

3. Explicitly Teach Reading Skills, Even if You’re Not the “English Teacher”

As a teacher, you may not be teaching English classes, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t teach reading skills. 

Integrate reading skills during your lessons by using techniques such as close reading, reading aloud, and asking students to summarize what they’ve read. 

Incorporate teaching sessions on strategies such as identifying character development, plot mapping, and drawing inferences. You can also encourage students to read different genres to develop their reading skills and keep them open to a diverse range of literature.

4. Create Small Reading Groups and Pairs 

Starting some small reading groups and pairs is an excellent way to promote literacy development. This strategy involves grouping students together based on their reading ability and providing opportunities for them to read and discuss texts together. 

This can help students develop comprehension skills, learn new vocabulary, and develop a love for reading. By creating small reading groups and pairs, you can help your students become more fluent readers who are confident in their reading abilities.

5. Develop a Compelling Classroom Library 

A compelling classroom library is a must-have for promoting literacy development. It should include a wide range of books that cater to different reading levels and interests. By providing students with access to a variety of books, you can help them find reading material that they enjoy. 

You can also use the classroom library to promote reading by creating book clubs, reading challenges, and book talks.

6. Do Teacher Book Talks 

Teacher book talks are another effective strategy for promoting literacy development. These talks involve the teacher sharing their favorite books with students and explaining why they enjoyed them. 

In doing so, teachers can help students discover new books, develop a love for reading, and understand the elements of good storytelling. Teacher book talks can be done in small groups, during class time, or as part of a reading challenge.

7. Host a Student Book Club 

Hosting a student book club is a great way to promote literacy development in your classroom. It not only encourages students to read but also allows them to discuss what they have read with their peers. 

In the book club, students can share their thoughts on the book’s plot, characters, symbols, and more. By joining in a group discussion, students gain a deeper understanding of what they have read and can even learn from the perspective of their fellow students.

8. Don’t Limit Your Students Just to Books 

When it comes to promoting literacy development, many immediately think of books. However, this is not the only way to get students reading. 

As educators, it’s essential to remember that not all students learn in the same way. Some may prefer to read on tablets, while others may prefer audiobooks. By offering a variety of reading materials, teachers can encourage all students to practice their literacy skills in ways that work best for them.

9. Write About What You’re Reading 

Writing about what you have read is a fantastic way to promote literacy development in your students. It not only encourages them to reflect on their comprehension of what they have read, but it also improves their writing skills. 

Through writing about what they have read, students can practice their grammar, organization, and analytical skills. Teachers can even take this step further and publish their students’ writing on the classroom blog or in the school newspaper.

10. Host a Readers’ Theater 

A readers’ theater can be a fun and interactive way to help students read and interpret scripts. It helps in developing their skills for reading, writing, and collaboration, which are vital for literacy development. Teachers can distribute scripts for plays, then the students can rehearse their lines and come together as a group to act them out. 

11. Offer Reading Rewards 

As most students find earning rewards to be encouraging, educators can offer rewards or incentives to students who complete reading assignments, who meet their reading goals, or participate in book clubs. 

This can help students develop a sense of achievement and motivate them to continue reading widely for entertainment and information. 

12. Give Them Highlighters 

Many students use highlighters to highlight important information when reading textbooks. Highlighting text can be an excellent strategy for students to comprehend and retain essential information. 

Giving students highlighting strategies, that is, highlighting only critical words and creating acronyms, can help improve reading comprehension and, therefore, literacy development. 

13. Play Games 

Games are an excellent way to engage students and create a fun and interactive learning experience. Incorporating games into literacy lessons can enhance comprehension skills and promote teamwork. 

Word games like Scrabble, Boggle, and Bananagrams can help students develop vocabulary and spelling skills. Board games that involve answering questions related to language arts can also be a great tool for learning.

14. Bring in Authors to Speak

Inviting authors to speak to students about their experiences and writing processes can be a great way to inspire students and connect them to the world of literature. 

It also provides students with an opportunity to interact with professionals in the field and ask questions about the writing process. This engagement can foster a love and appreciation for reading, which is critical for literacy development.

15. Bring Characters to Life With Hands-on Activities

Creating hands-on activities based on books can enhance students’ comprehension and promote memory retention. Dressing up as a character and acting out scenes from the book can stimulate a child’s imagination. 

Teachers can also create activities that involve crafting items that relate to the story, such as creating a diorama or making a poster. These activities can make the story come alive, and students will be more likely to understand and remember the theme and plot of the book.

16. Start a Book/Movie Challenge 

One fun way to promote literacy development is to start a book/movie challenge. Students can choose a book to read and a movie to watch based on that book. This not only promotes literacy but also encourages critical thinking and media analysis. 

When students are done reading and watching, they can compare and contrast the two to further develop their reading and writing skills.

17. Take Field Trips Related to What You’ve Read

Another strategy to promote literacy development is to take field trips related to what students have read. 

For example, if the class has read a book about marine life, the teacher can take them to an aquarium, or if they have read a book about a historical figure, a museum tour can be planned. This not only promotes reading but also encourages students to experience and relate to the subject matter.

18. Start a Series 

Another great strategy for promoting literacy development is to start a series. A series is when you have students read several books by the same author or on the same subject matter. This promotes reading and comprehension skills as students have to keep up with the plot and characters throughout several books.

19. Make Literacy Prop Boxes 

A literacy prop box is a collection of items that children can use to interact, retell or create stories. You can make them as low-key or elaborate as you want. You can choose toys, art supplies, or everyday household items to include in these boxes. They are easy to make and can be tailored to your students’ interests. 

You can incorporate seasonal items or themes related to upcoming lessons. Allow students  to use their imagination and creativity to make up their own stories and act them out using the materials in the prop box.

20. Have Kids Make Their Own Books

With pre-made blank books, students can write and illustrate their own stories. Giving the children the freedom to choose their topics, characters, and settings encourages them to be creative and reinforces writing skills. 

Once the books are completed, you can have a classroom library where the children can trade books or read books from their peers. The students love taking their progress home to share with family members. Making their own book provides the confidence boost every young child needs.

21. Organize a Read-a-Thon

A Read-a-Thon encourages reading and can work well as a fundraising event. All students can be involved in this event, and it can occur within the classroom or your school. 

You can ask parents and community leaders to participate by reading to the children or providing incentives for children to read more books. Also, providing them with bookmarks and certificates of achievement can help motivate them.

22. Try to Avoid Boring Comprehension Checks 

Traditional comprehension checks, such as chapter quizzes and written summaries, can be discouraging for students. Instead, try to make comprehension checks more engaging by allowing students to illustrate what happened in the story or tell an alternative ending. 

This strategy not only promotes critical thinking skills but also allows students to be creative and innovative.

23. Allow Audiobooks

Audiobooks are a great way to promote literacy in students who struggle with reading or have a learning disability. 

By allowing students to listen to audiobooks, they can improve their listening comprehension and develop a love for books. Furthermore, audiobooks often feature engaging narrators that make the story come to life and keep students engaged.

24. Make the Classroom Reading Environment Cozy 

Creating a cozy classroom reading environment can make a significant difference in students’ motivation to read. Simple additions such as comfortable bean bag chairs, colorful pillows, and soft lighting can create a warm and inviting atmosphere that makes students excited to read. 

Plus, students are more likely to engage in independent reading when they feel comfortable and relaxed.

25. Connect Classroom Texts to Real-Life Events and News

Making connections between classroom texts and real-life events and news can help students see the relevance of what they are reading. This can be done by incorporating current events into the curriculum, highlighting topics that relate to students’ lives, or inviting guest speakers to share their experiences. 

By connecting classroom texts to real-life events and news, students can develop a deeper understanding of the world around them and become engaged in reading.

Final Thoughts

strategies to promote literacy

It takes planning and effort to inspire literacy and a love for reading in children. By employing a variety of strategies as we’ve outlined above, you can help your children who may be uninterested in reading become engrossed in the world of literature and reading. 

What’s more, children who form excellent literacy habits at a young age will be more likely to practice them throughout their lives – ultimately leading to academic and practical success. And that’s something really remarkable!

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a passionate special education teacher with [number] years of experience, uses her classroom knowledge to craft engaging stories that celebrate the unique strengths of all learners.