BLOGS  >  NOVEMBER 3, 2023

High-Interest Books: Maximize Them!

BY YOLANDA WILLIAMS


As educators we recognize that we have reluctant readers no matter what grade we teach. In our hearts we desperately want those students to enjoy reading and not see it as a daunting task. A reluctant reader is not always a struggling reader but can be a student who may not have found the genre or texts they find the most engaging. 

Due to high-stakes testing, we as educators find ourselves asking students to read to answer questions (or to write a response or an essay), and the text is usually informational. One way to improve students’ positive experiences with reading is to provide them with high-interest books. 

What are high-interest books?

High-interest books interest the student and hold their attention. These books are a motivation for students to increase how often and long they read. At the beginning of the year teachers may give children a reading inventory to determine the kinds of books, genre, and activities they find interesting. The class library is then filled with the high-interest books that students want, created with information gathered from the inventories.

You have high-interest books, now what?

Having high-interest books in your classroom is a sure way for students to actively engage with a text and find pleasure in reading. Although questions need to be answered and a reading response must be given, readers will find these tasks less intimidating because the topics interesting to them. Teachers can use these titles to help children develop a love for reading and build their literacy skills. 

Can high-interest books foster a love of reading?

High-interest books can foster a love of reading in even the most reluctant readers. Here are just a few ways popular books promote avid reading. High-interest books:

  • Challenge students to read them even if they are difficult because of the topic.
  • Encourage longer periods of reading as learners read all or most of the books in a series with excitement.
  • Result in students requesting independent time to read—because they’re enjoying the topic!
  • Introduce students to other genres that include their interests.
  • Encourage students to talk to others about the interesting books they’ve read.

How can high-interest books build literacy skills?

Building literacy skills through children’s popular books allows us to maximize teaching and learning. Student literacy engagement and learning increase when we integrate high-interest reading into our literacy instruction. Here are some literacy-building activities to try in your classroom:

  • For K-2 students: Use high-interest reading texts for decoding, retelling, repetition, main idea, story elements, comprehension, and vocabulary acquisition. Try the Pete the Cat series by James Dean or the Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel.
  • For 3-5 grade students: These books can be used to help students identify theme and reading comprehension in both literary elements and informational text structures. Check out the I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis and Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.
  • For 6-8 grade students: Use these books to compare and contrast the books with other genres on the topic or in a series. Use the books to identify authors’ writing styles. The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963, Bud, Not Buddy, The Mighty Miss Malone, and Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis are all great options! 

Explore these books on Titlewave® along with these ideas and activities to begin your journey on maximizing high-interest books. You’ll be glad you did!

 

Yolanda Williams, Ed.D.

Sixth Grade Teacher

Yolanda Williams is a sixth-grade teacher in metro Atlanta, Georgia area with degrees in Elementary Education and endorsements in reading, math, and ELL. She is a self-proclaimed content strategist. Yolanda shares her passion and energy for instructional strategy development and implementation through professional learning and webinars through The W.H.I.R.L. @ docwhirl@gmail.com.


Follett can help you find more ways to motivate and engage striving readers. 

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