Guest Blog Post- Building Lifetime Readers

This week’s guest blogger is not only my second grade teaching partner, she is also a very, very good friend! Elaine has been teaching second grade for three years, and before that taught 4-year-olds (translated that means she has a lot of patience!). She has attended Teacher College Workshops in reading and writing, and I am constantly looking to her for ideas to improve and enrich our lessons.

Over spring break, I attended the EARCOS conference in Bangkok with Melody and a few of our other colleagues. I was able to go to Dr. Steven Layne’s (one of our keynote speakers) session on Successful Strategies for Building Lifetime Readers. Not only is he an incredible author, but an amazing speaker too. He currently teaches literacy education at Judson University in Illinois and travels to give speeches to teachers and writers throughout the world. I walked out empowered, inspired and motivated. Here is a slice of what I’ve learned…

He started out with a quote:

“It should be the teacher’s aim to give every child a love of reading. A hunger for it that will stay with him throughout all the years of his life.” – Mayne, 1915

He pointed out that in this quote; it is the teacher’s aim, regardless of subject (science, social studies, counselor, P.E….) and not just the English teacher’s job to provide every child a love of reading. Everyone can help who’s willing to!

In schools, we find lots of students with aliteracy, not illiteracy. Aliteracy means I can read and write, but I choose not to! You can’t make me!

Steven introduced to us a simple diagram of what a complete reader looks like:

The skills on the right are important, but without the will (right column) you can’t have a complete reader.

Now, for some ways to motivate our reluctant readers, he gave us an interesting recommendation for teachers to try out. It’s called The Golden Recommendation Shelf (aka GRS). Dr. Layne decided to buy a cheap bookshelf for a few bucks and sprayed it GOLD! (The name of the shelf can be changed based on your color preference^^.)

Once you have your shelf ready, you are going to set it somewhere in your classroom and wait until your students start asking you what it’s for. The students, being nosy, will want to know what the bookshelf is for and will eventually become curious. The next day, the teacher adds a few (content and age appropriate) books to the shelf. When the students ask again, the teacher doesn’t make a huge deal out if and can say that it’s just some of his/her favorite books. Now the students’ curiosity goes up and they want to check out what these books are about. When you’re ready, you can also add a fancy sign by the bookshelf.

To add more excitement, you can also:

  1. Take a photo of yourself with the author (if possible) and tape it inside the book.
  2. Buy hard cover books for this shelf whenever possible (it’s worth the money in the end)
  3. Create a sign-out sheet
  4. Stock up multiple titles by favorite authors to give kids the idea that if you like one book by an author – you might like more! We need to teach our students to value the author and choose what they love. Often times when we ask our students who their favorite author is, they can’t recall the authors’ names and would just describe the book or shout out the book title. They often think most authors are males, old, or dead.
  5. Keep some of your favorite books from childhood on this shelf
  6. If a friend gives you a book that’s meaningful – have it inscribed.                                                                                                                         -If you don’t have lots of books with author’s autographs or pictures, you can always inscribe or write a short note about what  made you want to buy this book, your thoughts on the book, why you would recommend it to someone, etc.

Reading Log

Reading is not always books. It can be directions, recipes, instructions…  We often take too much time telling what we can’t do rather than what we can do. Dr. Layne said he used to print out a huge (poster size) reading log and taped it outside his classroom. He would write down all the reading he did in his smaller (normal size) reading log to model for his kids, but also on his reading log outside. The reason for that is to share all the books he has read to ALL the students who may pass by his classroom. The students pass by and can go to the library and check out a book read by the “2nd grade teacher.”

Some books written by Dr. Layne:

For more information, you can visit his website:



One thought on “Guest Blog Post- Building Lifetime Readers

  1. jee young says:

    I love the idea of creating a “golden” bookshelf with your favorite books! I will totally try to do this next year! Thanks for writing a post for us Elaine! You are an amazing teacher and friend. 🙂

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