Scholastic released their Kids & Family Reading Report. There were a lot of interesting seeds in there, but my biggest concern is the “Decline By 9.”
I’ve seen this firsthand for the past decade I’ve been directly serving youth of this age range. In 4th grade, academics get more a lot rigorous, adding an after-school activity or sport takes up a lot of “extra” time, babysitting younger siblings or neighborhood kids detracts from personal down time, and drama picks up with friends at school, depleting energy levels as texting and navigating interpersonal communications take their first adolescent peak.
What can we as educators do? There are many ways we can encourage pleasure reading:
Make displays that are eye catching, diverse, appeal to specifically to 9 year olds
Offer formal ways, such as a book club, that 4th graders can participate
Offer informal ways for readers to keep engaged by having a “BYOB” (Bring Your Own Book) Club so there’s no “homework” requirement
Ask kids for their recommended reads (you can use Post-It Notes, or let kids write on the bulletin board)
Ask parents, teachers, coaches, etc. in the community to share what they’ve been reading. You can ask them to take a photo of their TBR piles and create a display or even a guessing game!
Offer SSR (remember Sustained Silent Reading?!) as part of your after school program. Have books on hand ready to be picked and allow 20 minutes of downtime of just reading. Some kids might not get the chance to do so otherwise.