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High reader, low motivation

The Invention of Hugo CabretIn retrospect, I realize now that I have been extremely lucky. My students have always been highly motivated to read. Obviously, I’ve encountered the spectrum when it comes to low to excellent readers, but nonetheless, my students needed only minimal encouragement to read. When students lost interest, a graphic novel always did the trick (I’m a big fan!).

Recently, I found myself with a high reader (no problems in terms of vocabulary, reading fluency, and so forth) but she had no interest in reading. I tried different genres, I tried graphic novels… nothing quite stuck for her. She simply stated that she thought reading was overall boring. However, in further conversation, I found that there were some books that hooked her interest—books about friendships, school, some graphic novels/picture books, and books that are also movies. I gave her Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret and gave her the sagest piece of teacher advice ever—sometimes you have to suffer through the first couple of chapters to get to the good stuff so don’t give up on a book too early.

So, it wasn’t the greatest piece of advice I’ve ever offered but it did the trick. She stuck it out and is now enjoying the book. I’ll make every effort to find books that fit within her specific interests and genres, but I’m wondering: what other advice do teachers give to their students to motivate them to read? In this case, her reading skills weren’t a problem, just her motivation and a sort of indifference or apathy toward reading. What do you say to get your students to read?
Briana Chan
Briana Chan
Briana Chan is an elementary school teacher in California.

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