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Reading Activities

For Read-In Day

Teachers share their favorite reading activity ideas. Included: Theme ideas for reading fun!

For several years, one of the most exciting online events was an annual "happening" known as "The Read In!" Some of the most popular children's authors -- and 200,000 students -- took part. While funding for the event no longer is available, teachers who took part left behind a ton of great ideas for engaging students in reading and making reading a focus in their schools. Perhaps some of those ideas, reprinted here with the permission of the event's organizers, will inspire you to plan a classroom, school-wide, or district-wide "Read In" event.

To start you off, here are a handful of possible theme ideas for your Read In event.

  • Reading camp-out! Set up tents in the classroom. Kids can bring in their sleeping bags and read by flashlight.
  • Pajama party! Kids can wear their pajamas, and their favorite slippers or socks. They can bring in blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals.
  • Olympics party! Have students set reading goals and give out gold, silver, and bronze medals.
  • Around-the-world party! Award mileage based on the number of pages read (for example, one page = 1 mile). Kids might keep track on a world map of the places they read about.
  • "Hats off to reading" party! Students create fun hats to wear or wear their favorite hats.
  • "Here's the scoop on reading" party! Kids earn scoops of ice cream based on reading goals. The day closes with a sundae party.
  • Beach party! Kids bring in rubber rafts, inner tubes, beach blankets, and beach chairs. They dress in beach clothes.
  • Dalmatian party. Celebrate "101 Reasons to Read" with a Dalmation Celebration. Read for 101 minutes. Write songs, poems, and stories about dogs. Invite a local veterinarian or dog trainer to be your special reading guest.


With the permission of the good folks at The Read In!, Education World offers a dozen activities to make your school's Read In! more fun.

Produce a Reader's Theater play. Print out copies of the hilarious Reader's Theater plays offered on Aaron Shepard's Reader's Theater Page. Assign parts to school staff (cafeteria workers, the school nurse, principal, secretary, custodian, etc.). Don't practice TOO much. The mistakes when reading and the easy atmosphere that surrounds these informal plays make them hilarious! Students will howl!


To learn more about Aaron Shepard's Web site and the Web sites of a handful of other authors, be sure to see this week's Education World story, Get to Know Your Favorite Authors -- On the Internet.

"Open the Door to Reading." Decorate your classroom door as a book. At some point in the day, conduct a "Book Walk" to view the decorated doors. All participating classes receive a Read In! Door Decorating Contest Certificate!

Poster contest. Invite students to make posters to advertise The Read In! and/or to promote the benefits of reading. A local bookstore might provide appropriate prizes (such as books for the winners and bookmarks for all participants).

Take time to vote. Hold a schoolwide "Vote for Your Favorite Book" election. (You might hold a primary election before the general election.) Students will present campaign speeches and posters for their book "candidates." If you have closed-circuit TV, "political advertisements" could be broadcast each day.

"Trivial Pursuit" for books. Build a trivia contest around students' favorite books and book characters. Classes compete to win donated books for their classrooms.

Read In! BINGO. Each class gets a BIG bingo card drawn on poster paper. Each teacher has a master list of possible authors and titles. From this list, each class selects 24 choices and writes each one in one of their game card squares. (The center square, of course, is a FREE space.) Gather students together (the entire school or each grade level) and play BINGO. Choices can be drawn from a red-and-white-striped "Cat in the Hat" hat (or any other appropriate hat). As an author or title is called, each class crosses it off if it appears on their BINGO card. The first class to win each event gets a special treat (for example, popcorn).

Graph your guests' favorite books. Keep a guest register at the front door of the school. Each guest signs in and "registers" their favorite book from childhood. Later, students will graph their guests' favorite books!

Read my shirt! Students should all wear something that has to be read (for example, a T-shirt) on The Read In! day. Celebrate with a cake iced with the words "The Read In!"

Share a poem. Share the poem "Count on Reading," by Joanie Welch, with your students, their parents, and others:

What can you count on your whole life long?
A key that opens a door so strong.
Behind that door is a store of knowledge.
We've got it now, needn't wait for college.
What is the answer, what is the key?
It's R-E-A-D-I-N-G!

When we were tiny, big books we would hold.
We couldn't read them, but they were gold.
Our parents read to us, and that gave us pleasure.
Those words on the page were such a treasure.
They taught us some words, they gave the first key.
To R-E-A-D-I-N-G!

Then off to school we went with expectation.
We learned that reading is the key to education.
We read for fun, and we read to explore.
Our teachers urged us to read even more.
They taught us to research and write what we see
From R-E-A-D-I-N-G!

When we're older, we'll still read every day.
For people who matter have shown us the way.
Our parents, our teachers all love to read.
They've encouraged us and planted a seed.
That seed will grow and will form a tree
Of R-E-A-D-I-N-G!

So, if you're a teacher, pass along the joy
Of unlocking reading for a young girl or boy.
When those letters form words that a child can read,
That spells success, and it fills a need.
It opens doors that you may never see
To R-E-A-D-I-N-G!

What can we count on, once we have the key?
An open door where the mind soars free.
Books to read are a child's greatest treasure.
They're a gift of love beyond all measure.
So pass along the gift and all children will be

Good-bye books! On the day of The Read In!, the oldest students in your school might say "good-bye" to their favorite books. The students will have time to revisit their favorite books in the school's media center. Students might share their favorite books with their peers or with younger readers.

Leaders of readers. Take a photograph of each faculty member reading a favorite book and enlarge the photos. Put the photos on a bulletin board under the heading "Leaders of Readers." Then take pictures of the students doing the same thing (not enlarged) and place their photos on an adjoining board under the caption "Look Who's Also READING!!"

An 8-course meal. A growing child needs a variety of foods to be strong and healthy. Introduce students to a varied reading diet to stimulate lifelong reading. Students design their own eight-course reading menus with at least one serving of:

* Fruits & Vegetables - Poetry
* Soup - Current Events
* Fish - Science/Nature
* Meat - Biography/History
* Dessert - Fiction
* Milk - Sports/Hobbies
* After-dinner mint - Comics



Thanks, again, to Jane Coffey of The Read In! -- and to all the classroom teachers who provided them! -- for the terrific reading ideas! If you haven't already read it, be sure to check out a story that appeared last fall on the pages of Education World. That story, Twenty-Five Ideas to Motivate Young Readers!, shared teacher ideas that were originally published by the organizers of Pizza Hut's BOOK-IT! program.

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World®
Copyright © 2009 Education World


Originally published 03/30/1998
Last updated 05/20/2009