21 Ways to Motivate Kindergarten and First-Grade Students to Read

Do you have students who don’t love to read?

Most students in kindergarten and first grade love being read to and looking through pictures in books, but it may be a different story when they’re asked to read.

Reading is an important part of school and life, but not all kids love it.

Luckily, there are some simple ways to get your kids excited about reading.

Here are 21 of them! Make sure to comment with your own ideas as well.

Do you have students who don't love to read? Read 21 easy ways to motivate your students to read in kindergarten and first grade! You'll definitely find some tips to help even your most reluctant readers here!

Create a Motivating Environment

  1. Library Grand Opening (or Re-opening)-  Place crepe paper around your library and set a date for a grand opening. They will be bursting at the seams to get their little hands on those colorful, enticing books!
  2. Make library cards In anticipation of your grand opening, give kids a template to create their own library cards. By the way, this is a great place to add rules for using the library, mmhmmm.
  3. Create a cozy, inviting reading corner in your classroom to make it appealing for students. Add plush animals, pillows, and a lamp, if you’re able to. Hit up those yard sales by you for hidden gems.
  4. Reading BuddiesPair students up strategically to read to each other. Ask students from the next grade level to visit your classroom to pair up and listen to your students read. Heck, even reading to a stuffed animal works sometimes!
  5. Author Study Read books from a particular author and place these books in your library where your students can access them. Books you have read aloud will be in high demand in your library.

More ways to motivate reading

  1. Make Class Books and add them to your library! Some ideas are alphabet books, pattern books where each child writes a page (ex: “I can___” or “I like to___”). Check out this free class book template for The Hungry Thing.
  2. Let them be Book Critics! Provide recommendation forms in your library for students to rate the books they read. Keep it simple: title, rating, and just a few lines to write a reason for their rating (for kindergarten, provide multiple choices and an ‘other’ line for optional elaboration or just an award sticker to place in books they loved). 
  3. Book Recommendations Invite a fellow teacher to swap recommended books with your class. Swap a bin of recommended books monthly and your students will look forward to reading these favorites.
  4. Make Reading a Reward! If you use any rewards in our classroom, make sure to add one for reading! 5 – 10 minutes of quiet reading or reading with a buddy or stuffed animal can be very motivating when students need a break.
  5. Interest and Choice Give kids books from different genres to choose from and provide topics they are interested in. 
Have a grand opening for your classroom library to motivate your students to read! You better believe they'll be bursting at the seams to get their little hands on your books.
Have a grand opening for your library!

5 More Ways to Motivate Kids to Read

  1. Making Connections Look for books that kids can relate to. Maybe characters that have things in common with the students. “Look! This character plays soccer, just like you!”
  2. Work on Stamina- Don’t expect students to read 15 minutes independently from the start of kinder or first grade. Start with a few minutes and add 1-2 minutes each day! Set goals and use visuals for milestones. 
  3. Suspense Read the beginning of a book and let kids read the ending to find out what happens. Read the blurb on the back cover or give them your own summary, leaving them in suspense. 
  4. Fun Facts For informational books, tell them an exciting fact you learned and ask them an exciting question that the book answers. Have them read to find the answer. 
  5. Build Confidence Often, a lack of reading motivation is due to low self-esteem with reading. Teach students strategies they can use to help them decode and understand. Praise their efforts!

Try these too!

  1. Start EasyAnother way to build confidence is starting with a book that they can read easily before challenging them with a harder one. 
  2. Engaging Read-Alouds- Make a big deal of your read-aloud time. Use expression and enthusiasm, including funny voices and gestures, during your read-alouds to show children reading is fun! 
  3. Creative ReadingTry different genres and text types. Jokes, scavenger hunts, and reader’s theater are great ways to motivate young readers.
  4. Special ToolsWho doesn’t love a good witch finger, eyeball ring, or mini-pointer? These little tools are a great way to add some fun to reading. 
  5. Involve Parents- Encourage parents to talk about their own reading with their children at home.

And of course…

Explain the Importance of Reading

This one seems like a no-brainer, right? But sometimes we overlook the simplest things when trying to find a solution. Make a list of how reading will help them throughout their entire lives! They may not realize reading is necessary even to play video games!

I hope that you’ve found some of these strategies useful to get your students reading more. Not all of these ideas will work for every child, but I bet at least one of them will strike a chord! 

Which tip was the most helpful? What is one you’ll try next time a student doesn’t want to read? Let me know in the comments below.

Don’t forget to pin this for reference later and share it with any teachers you think it may help!

One response to “21 Ways to Motivate Kindergarten and First-Grade Students to Read”

  1. Brenda Avatar

    So glad to hear that! Let me know if you have any questions at all. 馃檪

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