by Jenn Baldwin

Research has proven that reading for 15-20 minutes daily not only enriches vocabulary, but also boosts mental health by relieving stress. It doesn’t matter what is read (book, magazine/ journal, newspaper, website, etc.) or the mode of reading (audio, digital, or print). Here are a few ideas to integrate more literacy into your students’ and your normal routine: Keep track of what you have read and want to read. Goodreads and Beanstack are just two different examples of websites that can help you log your reading. You can even make a yearly challenge for how many books/pages you read! Don’t forget that has free, downloadable book logs available to help your students keep track of their reading. You can even recognize those students who meet their reading goal with a downloadable Reading Circle certificate, also available for free: • Pre-K through 2nd graders may receive a certificate after reading 20 books. • 3rd through 6th graders may receive a certificate after reading 16 books. • 7th through 12th graders may receive a certificate after reading 14 books. • A lifetime certificate is available for students who have received a certificate for five or more years. S&C SUMMER 2023 | 45 Visit your public library or bookstore to browse their shelves for new reading material. While there, ask about future events so that you have a reason to return. The summer months are some of the busiest for public libraries due to their free summer library programming, with many geared for all ages. Encourage every family to establish reading traditions. Bedtime stories, listening to audiobooks while road tripping or having a dedicated reading area and time are just some ideas to share. Give books as gifts. Weddings, births/ adoptions, birthdays and holidays can all be celebrated with a book. Inscribe your gifts with a personalized message and they will become special mementos for years to come. Donate your gently loved books to a local not-for-profit, such as Ronald McDonald House, your local public library’s Friends group or a shelter. Passing along the love of reading to others will allow you to make room on your shelf for newer material. Join or lead a virtual or in-person book club so you can share what you are reading with others and get suggestions for what to read next. There are book clubs available for all ages and some even integrate other interests (ie. baking or crafting). Connect with authors and illustrators that you and your students enjoy. Host author/ illustrator events in person or digitally. Visit their websites or teachingbooks. net to find out more information about a specific title. You can also tag the authors or illustrators in your social media posts. Never be surprised if they respond; many LOVE to connect with their readers! Foster a school-wide culture of reading. Create posters and bulletin boards showcasing school staff and community leaders with their favorite books. Have signs for books that staff members are currently reading. Invite guest readers (older students, fellow staff members, community members) to read aloud to your students. Model good reading habits in front of your students. Allow them to see you reading the same things they are reading. Have conversations with your students and recommend titles to each other based on reading preferences. Integrate book talks and displays to help connect students to new genres and authors/illustrators. Make choosing to read fun by integrating a game board, like Bingo. Sample squares could include reading under a blanket fort, reading outside, reading a new genre or reading aloud to a loved one. Celebrate various annual reading themed events. TeenTober takes place each October and Children’s Book Week occurs once each semester. World Read Aloud Day is the first Wednesday in February, Missouri Read In Day is celebrated the second Friday in March and D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) Day is on April 12 in honor of children’s author Beverly Cleary’s birthday. Participate in any local area business’s reading programs as well, such as those sponsored by Pizza Hut, Braum’s and many national bookstore chains. Happy reading!