Increasing Reading Volume

reading volume

A few years ago I decided to run a 5k for the first time ever.  I had a goal and as a former (let’s not talk about how long ago) track and field athlete I had the skills.  So, I should have been successful, right?  Well, although I did “complete” the 5k, I walked more than I wanted to and my time was much slower than I expected.  What went wrong?  I had not trained long enough and frequently enough.  I lacked the volume of training that was needed.  The same problem occurs with some of our readers in workshop.  They have goals and they have the skills to read, but due to a lack of reading volume they are not as successful as they could be.  Fortunately, there are many things we can put in place to help students increase the volume of their reading.

Ensure Adequate Access to Reading Materials

 On our Title I campus, we have an ongoing goal to help build classroom libraries. We have found ways to be resourceful as we work at building our collections.  We have found several digital resources to supplement our print books.  One of our favorites is the digital collection from Epic! Educators can register for a free account using this link  The app is available from Apple and Google Play.  The site includes an ever growing collection of fiction and non-fiction texts. Many popular titles such as the Scaredy Squirrel  and Memoirs of…books can be found here. For our readers who crave non-fiction we use the free website Wonderopolis which posts daily wonders in the form of a question with informative answers.  All the wonders are archived for easy searching.   Our school library is growing our collection of ebooks to help with access as well.  We all recognize that in order to increase volume students need access to a wide variety of texts.

Create an Excitement About Books

Our community is in a “book desert” according to the latest census data (only 6% of households in our community have 100 or more books) so most of our students do not come to school with a love of reading.  We work to grow that love of reading by creating a sense of excitement about books. All staff members have a sign outside their door with what they are currently reading.  We post pictures of teachers reading on a bulletin board in our main hall. We want our whole community to see us a reading community.

summer reading

Author visits in person or through Skype are a wonderful way to increase interest in books and therefore student reading volume.  In classrooms, the importance of book talks cannot be overstated.  There is nothing like word of mouth about a book from a peer to create a frenzy about a title.  Book trailers are another way to increase excitement about a new book.

Use a Toolbox of Strategies

 For some students having access and creating excitement will not be enough.  These students need specific and targeted strategies to increase volume. Reading logs are an important tool in monitoring and creating an awareness of reading volume.  Alice wrote a post about this on September 20th. One of my favorite tools is to the use of stamina graphs.  Our primary classes use these as a whole class to track minutes read as students learn reading behaviors.  In our older grades, stamina graphs can be a tool for individual students to visually see their progress in increasing stamina.  There is a wonderful description of using them at the older grades in Jennifer Serravallo’s book, The Reading Strategies Book (2.14).

                                 stamina graph 1     stamina graph 2

The Reading Strategies Book has several suggested strategies for increasing stamina which will help increase volume.  There are ideas on how to set small goals then take a break to read a favorite type of text or celebrate.  Ideas on how to teach students to monitor their engagement in the text or to make future reading plans.  Serravallo teaches us that engagment should be the first goal to take on, because if students aren’t engaged the other types of reading work will not be able to happen.  Increasing engagment should lead to greater volume.

Donalyn Miller has written entire books that address the topic of increasing reading volume.  In both of her books, The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild, she shares how her students took on her 40 Book Challenge.  Choice was a major factor in encouraging all her students to make volume gains.Teaching students to always have a book on hand for “reading emergencies” such as waiting for appointments is one of her ideas.  As a school we embrace this idea and have baskets of books in our front office, clinic, and other areas where parents or students may be waiting. We want to be role models for reading whenever and wherever we can. I have taken on Donalyn Miller’s summer challenge for teachers, #bookaday, for three years now.  I am able to talk to students and teachers about many new titles after participating which further helps with student reading volume.  I am thrilled that I have been much more successful with my reading volume than my running volume.

Next Steps

We would love to hear your best ideas for increasing reading volume.  Please comment below to share with other teachers.

I’ll see you again on Wednesday with ideas for increasing writing volume in workshop.

Living the workshop with you!



3 thoughts on “Increasing Reading Volume

  1. I appreciate your dedication and will to share your knowledge and your love for reading and writing.
    I look forward to reading about writing in science,


  2. Nicely done again, Melissa! We can never have too many books in our classrooms and library- we should always strive to continue to get more great literature in our students’ hands! That is a constant goal we all need to strive for in our community of readers. I look forward to our book character bulletin board coming up as well!


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