10 Ideas on How To Create A Reading Community In Your Classroom

10 Ideas on How To Create A Reading Community In Your Classroom

As a teacher, your biggest challenge is finding ways to make reading enjoyable for your students. It’s one thing to show them the importance of it and assign book reports, but how do you create an environment that nurtures engagement with books? One solution might be creating a reading culture within your classroom – encouraging ‘imagined conversations around books’ and fostering an atmosphere where students feel connected to their reading and can express their ideas meaningfully. 


Building a reading community in your classroom is hugely important for your students to build a strong classroom community. The more fun you have reading and learning, the more your students will want to do it! You want to make reading relaxing, fun and inviting. When your students are comfortable, introduce book studies and reading clubs, and use some of the strategies you’ll find below to keep your students in love with reading while including the whole family in reading fun.


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This blog post will explore ten strategies for building a solid reading community within your classroom. From student discussions and unique activities to leveraging technology tools like online book clubs, you will find many ideas here on incentivizing peer-to-peer sharing and collaboration related to books. Let’s get started!


1. Establish a Classroom Library 

Classroom libraries are a great way to encourage students to check out books and read for pleasure. By making books exciting, accessible, and fun, they can revive a love of reading in even the most reluctant reader. Teachers can use their classroom library on a daily basis to expose students to new genres, authors, and writing styles they may not have been exposed to before. Classroom libraries also allow teachers to assign books related to the curriculum, which will pique the interest and curiosity of each student. Classroom libraries can be invaluable learning tools that encourage literacy and exploration of ideas.


2. Create an Inviting Reading Center

Provide inviting and comfortable seating. Decorate your reading center, so students feel comfortable with soft seats, cushions, or rugs. Provide good lighting. I have seen several teachers have a dark corner reading center. Improper lighting makes it difficult to read. If that is how you want your reading center, provide flashlights or some lighting, so students do not strain their eyes while reading. Students love it when there is special lighting to make the area homier. 


Looking back on my classroom, one of my biggest regrets is that my book selection needed to be more extensive. I would go to The Goodwill every chance I got to buy highly discounted picture and chapter books for my students. Instead, I should have placed books in the reading center that piqued their interest or were on theme with the topics that are being taught that week or month. Or provided more picture books for students at all grade levels and over multiple subject areas.


3. Encourage Students to Take Ownership 

Classroom libraries are an essential part of the learning experience. Not only can they improve access to books and enhance literacy levels, but they can also be a way for students to take ownership of their learning environment. It’s not just about selecting and checking out titles; they can help organize the library, create meaningful displays, choose books that interest them, and share their favorite authors with others. 


Involving students in maintaining the collection helps make it easier for everyone to find what they’re looking for and encourages children to become more engaged with their education. Classroom libraries provide an excellent opportunity for students to grow in responsibility, build classroom community, and spark a lifelong love of reading.


4. Schedule Time For Students to Share Books They’ve Read With the Class

These book talks give students time to share their books with their peers can help foster a reading community in the classroom. It allows students to communicate what reading means to them, discuss themes in stories, and explore why certain books stand out more than others during a class meeting. 


Furthermore, having access to other’s experiences reading different materials gives the student an extended reading list outside of the ones provided by teachers. Book-sharing times give students insight into how reading shapes perspectives and offer deeper meaning by exploring the text. A reading community can be incredibly beneficial as it helps grow student reading comprehension skills and provides them with an understanding of empathy and perspective to understand each other better.


5. Book Studies are Great for Reading Community

A book study can be done at any age. Whether it is a picture book or a novel, you can always group students to talk about the book. You can do the book study in small groups or whole groups. Include students in the planning stages. 


For instance: How many pages will we read before we discuss? Will we journal or draw? Discuss that they will need to use kind words when discussing books. If you don’t want students to read to themselves, introduce reading buddies, where your students partner up and read to one another. If you want to set a great example for your students’ reading habits, you can’t go wrong in reading to them.


6. Celebrate Book-related Holidays 

World Book Day (April 23rd) provides an excellent opportunity for reading communities everywhere to come together and celebrate the joy of reading. You can observe this special day by gathering with friends, family, or colleagues for a reading marathon. Make it even more fun by creating crafts inspired by your favorite books. You can also use this day to share new book recommendations and discover books you have yet to hear of. World Book Day is the perfect excuse to express your love of reading and create lasting memories with those just as passionate about books.


Read Across America Day (March 2nd) is an important classroom reading day. It provides an excellent opportunity to unite our reading community and celebrate books and reading. Through reading stories, poems, and articles, children are illuminated by the infinite possibilities that reading can offer. We can use this special day to pique students’ interest regarding specific topics and genres of literature, which also leads to conversations about why reading is so critical. Participating in Read Across America will allow children to build relationships with their peers through reading, literature appreciation, and healthy conversations. This one-day event’s impact can potentially expand into a school reading culture all year round!


Other great book-related activities that can be incorporated on these special days involve:

  • Reading challenges.
  • Create a special reading bulletin board to display student work
  • Dress as your favorite character
  • Playing literary trivia games.
  • Reading themed cookbooks,
  • Doing book-themed crafts such as creating bookmark collages and paper lanterns 
  • Visiting local library field trips to get even more reading suggestions
  • Attending events hosted by other reading communities
  • Have older students (or high school students) come and read to your students
  • Have a school administrators come read to your students

Here is another article on activities to do during these holidays.

7. Organize Book Swaps 

Book swaps are an excellent way to bring reading into the classroom community. Organizing a book swap can allow students to explore genres of reading they may have previously overlooked and share their love for reading with peers. It is a fun and educational activity for all involved, sparking exciting conversations about reading preferences which can ultimately encourage everyone in the reading classroom community to grow. 

It is also economically advantageous as books often become more expensive without the help of a book swap system. Organizing a book swap should be considered an important part of any reading classroom culture.

8. Use Strategies to Keep Students Loving Books

Only some people look, act, or have grown up the same. Provide diverse books so that students can see themselves in books. This builds a connection and love for reading. Build a personal relationship with each child. Find out their interests and help your students find books that interest and excite them. Find out what several of your students love and sprinkle some of those books with your theme or skill. 

At the beginning of the year (usually on the first day of school), I always share my favorite children’s book “There is a Monster At the End of This Book”. Ask them to bring in their favorite book. Students will want to read your and their classmates’ favorite books to see why they are a favorite, and maybe they will become a new favorite for a new reader. Provide students with familiar/popular characters.

9. Host monthly “Read-a-Thons” 

Hosting monthly “Read-a-Thons” can be a great way to bring reading into the classroom, assess students’ reading comprehension, and form a stronger reading-focused classroom community. Creating an environment where reading is celebrated can get an additional level of challenge and reward that wasn’t there before. 

During these Read-a-Thons, students can try to read as many books or chapters as they can within an allotted amount of time. This reading will support reading comprehension and further encourage exploration and engagement with reading material, which studies have shown improves reading fluency. 

It is essential to take breaks for snacks and activities. Students love to have themed snacks, so consider:

  • Gummy Bookworms
  • Pop Open a Book Popcorn Bag
  • Cat in the Hat Marshmallow Pops

Here are some great ways for brain breaks to do during reading:

  • Freeze, Dance!- everyone breaks out in a dance.
  • Book balance- Place the book they are reading on their head and walk carefully around the room
  • Limbo- who doesn’t like game of limbo?

Every month’s worth of Read-a-Thon challenges brings the opportunity for increased literacy levels – so why wait?

10. Get Your parents involved in your reading community 

Send a note home with students or email a letter to share the themes and skills you will be looking at in class. Some parents will jump on community building by helping their students incorporate your lessons into reading at home. Encourage parents to read to their children. Some do, but some need an extra reminder. Encourage parents to ask questions about the books read. Some kids don’t have a lot of books at home, so help them develop a love of reading and provide readers for students to check out and take home.


Developing the love of reading is a massive part of our job as teachers and one of the most rewarding. Reading truly opens the door to learning anything and everything imaginable. Give your students a leg up with your classroom reading area. Make it comfy and cozy with great lighting, great reading choices, and something they want to read. Encourage your students to choose books with topics they are interested in and share their reading journey with parents at home. Which of these ideas will you incorporate into your classroom reading center?

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