Start the year and new semester with a fun and easy reading challenge! Students of all ages get excited about completing tasks. Gamification across content areas has helped encourage student participation for years. Bring the fun into the school library with monthly reading challenges that reward students for reading and participating in library activities.
The goal of this month’s reading challenge is to get students to check out a new book. This can be a new book to them or a completely new book to the school library. The more students that participate, the more circulation will increase during this month.
Creating a reading challenge allows students to get motivated with some kind of incentive. Big or small, these rewards can be a motivator to students of all ages. For this month’s challenge I purchased a pair of fun reading-themed socks and reading-themed stickers for the students who completed the challenge. As students complete the challenge they either come and talk to me directly about what they read, or they e-mail me about the titles they chose. I find giving students choice in how they communicate that they completed the challenge helps with participation. After our conversation virtually or in-person I create a little gift bag and have the student come pick it up when they have time.
To spread the word I chose a few diverse formats. First, I created a display to go along with this reading challenge. The titles I chose to display are all new purchases to the school library and are titles students might not have seen previously. This gave me an additional platform to highlight some of our newest books for students as well as the challenge. Secondly, I made the challenge the highlight of my monthly library newsletter. Having the information for the book challenge front and center on the newsletter should hopefully draw in customers who browse more frequently from our website. Lastly, I used the tried and true word of mouth.
The start of the semester is always a busy time for book talks in English classes. Each class that I see I always start with a little advertisement for what’s new in the school library. This month I will be sharing all the book challenge information at the start of each lesson.
Creating fun and interesting ways for students to challenge themselves as readers benefits all. The students are reading and circulation is rising. What more could we ask for as school librarians? This reading challenge will hopefully motivate students to expand their reading horizon as well. Cheers to students reading and growing with books in 2022!
Author: Elizabeth Pelayo
Elizabeth Pelayo is the library media specialist at St. Charles East High School in St. Charles Illinois. She currently writes book reviews for School Library Journal. She is a member of the AASL AAUP Book Selection Committee. Also, she is a member of the nominations committee for the ISLMA Abraham Lincoln Book Award.