How to Increase Participation and
Generate Enthusiasm for Your School's Reading Program...
From: Jim Snack
For over two decades I have had the pleasure of working with hundreds of elementary
schools adding excitement to reading programs with the
Reading Is Magic
assembly program. Whether participating in Parents As Reading Partners (PARP),
Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), book fairs, or other such programs, the best
part of the experience has been seeing the creative ways teachers and
parents have added fun and excitement to their reading programs.
This article summarizes a longer report designed to help schools plan
their reading program. The most effective programs I've participated in
have included the following ten elements. Keep these
Ten Secrets of a Successful Reading Program in mind as you plan
your program, and you can be assured of success.
Defined Goals - Set daily, weekly, monthly or yearly reading goals for
your students. Measure the number of minutes read, pages
read, or books read. Be creative. Snapper Creek Elementary
School in Florida, for example, sets a yearly goal that really catches the
students' attention - one million minutes! The combined reading
times outside of school of all students must top one million minutes by a
certain date in April.
Student Progress Toward Goals - Let your students know how well they
are doing by prominently displaying a large chart showing their progress.
For example, create a large thermometer for display in on the lawn front
of the school. One school using Reading is Magic as their theme
created a lobby display featuring a large picture of a rabbit coming out
of a hat. Every student who turned in their
weekly reading time slip got to glue a cotton ball onto the rabbit.
Their goal was to cover the entire rabbit before the program ended.
Student Progress - Provide small incentive rewards for students
meeting their goals. Certificates, bookmarks, buttons, or stickers
can be made inexpensively. Ask local merchants to donate prizes,
particularly books, for a random drawing at the closing awards ceremony.
4. Choose a
Theme and Create a Logo and Slogan - Symbols make abstract ideas
concrete, and they evoke positive responses in the mind immediately.
Choose a theme for your reading program and attach a symbol to it.
In the complete manual, I describe fifteen different themes schools have
used to promote their reading program. For example, many schools
choose to use a teddy bear as the symbol or mascot for their reading
program. The teddy bear is an excellent choice because it immediately
evokes positive emotional responses. Be sure to display your symbol on
posters, handouts, t-shirts, stickers, etc.
Involve Your Principal - Ask your principal to preside over the
kick-off and closing awards assemblies, to visit classrooms and read to
the students, and to demonstrate that he or she considers the reading
program important enough o take time out for.
Involve Parents - Studies show that parents who read with their
children raise children who like to read. Ask parents to read with their children
every day of your program, to come to kick-off and
closing awards assemblies, to attend special events. Be sure to send
special invitations home with children.
Involve the Community - It takes a whole village to raise a child. Ask local businesses for support, to donate
money or incentive prizes. Involve the public library by
coordinating special events and programs. Ask local sports teams to
participate in special events. Host a "Read-a-thon" to raise money
for a local charity (complete details are in the manual).
Get Media Coverage - Nothing gets
students more excited than appearing on the local television news or
getting their picture in the local newspaper. Invite local newspapers, radio and television to
cover special events. Ask your local newspaper to write a feature
story about the program and to publish essays, poems, etc., written by
Use "Word of Mouth" Advertising - Get people talking about your
program by hosting exciting special events, a kick-off magic show, for
example. Create a literary trivia contest. Each day read
another trivia question about books during the morning announcements,
offering prizes for the most correct answers. Encourage students and
teachers to share what they are reading with each other.
Make it Appealing to Children - Include as many things as possible
that appeal to children - music, costumes, special events, contests, to
name a few. Create an original song which students can learn and
sing at special events. If you have a mascot, arrange for someone in
costume to make an appearance. Wizard of Oz
characters are always popular for a Reading is Magic theme, as well as
characters from the Harry Potter books.
These ten elements
will help make your next reading program sizzle with
excitement and the result will be increased student participation.
Now I'd like to invite you to
download the entire the manual filled with great ideas to help you plan
the best reading program ever.
You will discover hundreds of
practical ideas you can use to plan your PARP, RIF or other reading program, not only this year, but for many years
to come. These are real world ideas used by hundreds of schools to get kids excited about
Themes Fully Explained, including
Reading Trains the Mind
Going Ape Over Book
Reading is Our Treasure/Treasure
Reading is Magic
Travel with Books
and more! Actual themes used
successfully by schools to promote reading. Dozens of great ideas
for you to use.
Special Events For Every Day of Your
Program. Which of these events will add excitement to your program?
Share a Book Day
Riddle & Joke Day
Favorite Character Day
Riddle & Joke Day
22 Different daily events to keep
enthusiasm high during your program!
Plus, how to:
Host a "READATHON" to raise money
Create a "Reading Quilt."
Host a Book Swap.
Get media coverage for your reading
program. It's easy once you know how.
Work closely with teachers.
your entire community, including ideas for working with local
businesses, sports teams, arts organizations, charities, and civic
The Reading is Magic Planning Manual is a resource you
will use year after year.
"Most of the information one receives at the Parents as
Reading Partners conference requires a lot of time to wade through
everything just to glean a few tips on how to make a successful PARP
You've managed to compile the highlights in an easy and
understandable way. We built our whole program
this year around our favorite ideas in your booklet."
Libby Hintz, PARP Chairperson,
Cherry Avenue Elementary School, Sayville,
Plus you will
receive absolutely free
two versions of the
Reading is Magic theme song to use as
You'll receive a short version that's ideal
for kicking off your assembly program or to use during the morning
announcements, and a longer version that includes an instrumental break.
It's perfect to use in the classroom by having students compose a reading rap to sing to the music!