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Reading for fun at home: tips and resources

March 17, 2020 by Nora Nagy

How can we encourage reading for fun at home? Reading the texts in course books from lesson to lesson contributes to our students’ focused language development, but there is so much more to reading. Encourage your students to read for fun in English - especially if they are spending these weeks in their home environment. 

What materials can you access online? How can you use books in your home library? We have collected different sets of reading materials for different audiences and different objectives to support you in setting up a reading for fun at home programme.

We recommend choosing one book, one website, one online reading resource and encouraging students to engage with that one text through meaningful online discussions (in an online reading group), keeping a journal (online or offline), or developing CLIL-based projects. Choose the way that best suits your needs and possibilities, and have fun reading!

Reading materials

Reading online materials

Young learners

Contemporary authors

You can visit your favourite authors' websites and Instagram accounts for sample materials and online reading sessions. For example, Oliver Jeffers reads one of his books live every evening and broadcasts it in a live Instagram video.

Visit contemporary authors' websites to become familiar with their work through reading sample pages.

Library resources

A lot of libraries offer digitized copies of their own books or old children's books. Some of the old children's books are popular classics, which might be interesting for you. Visit the Library of Congress online children's books collection or the original manuscripts on the British Library website. 

Visit your local or national library's website to see what materials are available.

Silent books

Silent books or wordless picture books are great resources to engage in storytelling in any language. If the parents of your students speak English, you can tell them about reading silent books with their children. 

Read more about silent books in our blog post here.

Online storytelling

Not only famous authors like Oliver Jeffers, but some English-speaking libraries also set up storytime sessions. For example, you can watch the Brooklyn Library's Virtual Storytime sessions on their Family Facebook page.

Another great website is Storyline Online, where famous people read out stories - you can watch on Vimeo or YouTube.

Teens

E-readers

If you have access to the Helbling SURE course for example, you can read stories online, on our educational platform, e-zone.

Graphic novels

The website TeenBookCloud has lots of graphic novels that can be read online. 

  • You can reach this collection by first going to the New York Public Library website, and click on 'Connect to database'. Then, click on the book cover you like, scroll down and 'Read online'.

Library resources

Read the original manuscript of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland on the British Library website.

There are lots of interesting titles for teen readers on the Project Gutenberg website.

Adults

Apart from reading stories on Project Gutenberg website, adult learners can read online magazines, newspapers and blogs. Here are some of our favourite titles.

Interactive reading

We have already written about interactive storytelling, and we recommend you look at it again. Interactive stories are engaging multimedia stories which involve the readers by asking them to make decisions. Here are two good ones.

Read about our interactive readers, the Maze Readers here.

Reading books you have at home

Reading the same book in a group

This approach will work if you know that all your students have the same copy of a book at home. 

  1. Choose a title for every two weeks - or every week if the stories are short. 
  2. Send the title to your students via email or on an online educational platform.
  3. Keep record of what your students are reading!
  4. If the book you are reading is not a graded reader or has no reading exercises in it, give some comprehension questions to your students to focus on during reading. 
  5. You can opt for a free discussion, and in this case, your students will receive no guiding questions. We recommend this approach with more advanced learners.

Reading different titles in a group

It might happen that your students have different titles at home. In this case, you can give them general guidelines to pay attention to while reading their stories.

  1. Ask students to choose a book they own.
  2. They can write a short journal during reading.
  3. Then they can share their experiences in an online discussion or class forum.
  4. Ask them to describe the setting, the characters, the major elements in the plot. For example, they can talk about the complications or difficulties the main characters had to face, and then describe the resolution.
  5. If there are any film adaptations, they can compare the book with the film.

Active reading

Online reading groups

Reading groups can be great inspiration during holidays, when someone is sick, or during difficult periods. They create a sense of belonging, and they keep students busy in a fun way. 

Join already existing reading groups

One way of encouraging students or even yourself to read more in English is joining an online reading group or book club. If you start looking on Goodreads, you will find fascinating ones such Our Shared Shelf, set up by Emma Watson. 

You can get more ideas about book clubs and reading groups in our previous blog posts.

Create your own reading group

The best way to encourage students to read books and then reflect on them meaningfully is setting up your own reading circle. You will need an online platform to manage the book club activities.

You can set one up in a Facebook Group or Google Group. 

If your school already has an e-learning platform, you can organize a group there, inviting other students. If you are more experienced on digital platforms, and your students have access to these groups, think about setting one up on Goodreads or Padlet, a student collaboration tool. 

Read our tips on setting up book clubs and download our resources:

Project-based reading

Support your students’ reading at home by giving them interesting projects to explore in connection with the books they are reading. This kind of reading motivation is built on projects rather than titles or authors.

Let’s say, your students are interested in detective stories, you can encourage them to read one of the Sherlock Holmes stories (Arthur Conan Doyle) or an Agatha Christie and more Gothic tastes may enjoy something by Edgar Allan Poe. 

If your students are more into history, recommend stories with a strong historical link such as The Last of the Mohicans, Heart of Darkness or Kim.

Students can keep a project book and collect their research findings connected to the story they have read. If they keep an online project book, you can set up a class project on Padlet, a student collaboration tool.

Check out our blog lesson ideas for different titles with a focus on CLIL projects.

How can parents help young learners and teenagers?

It is important to support students who are reading at home, especially if they are young learners. Our free guide, How to help your child read in English, has lots of tips and advice for parents. 

Download this resource and send it to the English-speaking parents of your young learners. 

If the parents do not speak English, use our guide to create your own sheet in your own language, and then send it to the parents.

How to help your child read in English