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Turn reluctant readers into lovers of literature

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Turn reluctant readers into lovers of literature

English Stars 25/10/18


We’ve all seen it happen: we dedicate the lower primary years to teaching students reading skills, only to discover that by upper primary half the class don’t want to read. There are many reasons why children lose interest in literature. Some are turned off by having to read books they don’t enjoy. Others struggle to understand the nuances of good literature and get limited pleasure from the experience. And many children, given the choice, would rather play online games with their friends than read a good book.

So how do we turn reluctant readers into literature lovers? Here are five ways you can rekindle a passion for reading in your classroom.

1. Find genres kids enjoy

We don’t all like the same things – and this applies to literature too. It’s important to expose students to a wide range of text types and genres in the classroom. This helps students determine what they like and don’t like.

With millions of books out there, there’s something for everyone. But where do you start looking? English Stars has taken the hard work out of sourcing high-quality texts. We’ve created and sourced a wealth of literature for you to use in the classroom. From bespoke persuasive essays to children’s literature and informative articles, our fiction and non-fiction texts support the text type and language concepts taught in every unit of study. Whether it’s Roald Dahl’s classic stories, Anh Do’s humour or Rosanne Hawke’s historical drama, your students are sure to find a genre they’ll love.

2. Liaise with your librarian

Work closely with your school librarian to ensure the texts you’re using in class are available in the library. One Queensland teacher using English Stars in her Year 4 classroom recalled a rush on the Word Hunters series after exploring extracts in the storytelling unit. Her students couldn’t wait to find out how the story ended.

We’ve compiled comprehensive Text Reference Sheets for you to share with your librarian. Check out which texts are featured in your year:

Year 3 Text Reference Sheet
Year 4 Text Reference Sheet
Year 5 Text Reference Sheet
Year 6 Text Reference Sheet

3. Teach comprehension strategies

A student may have great reading skills, but if they don’t develop strong comprehension skills too, their enjoyment of literature will be limited. It’s important to teach comprehension strategies early. That’s why English Stars dedicates several modules to comprehension strategies in Year 3. These include modules on understanding text, predicting, making connections, visualising and summarising.

Students also need practice applying the comprehension strategies. The best way to do this is to regularly include comprehension activities in your lessons using a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts. The English Stars program generally includes weekly comprehension texts, which relate to the text type being studied. The activities start with literal questions and progress to inferential and applied questions, which challenge students to infer and draw on their own experiences to gain meaning from the text.

Each comprehension module begins with a discussion of an artwork related to the text. This might be the book cover or a bespoke illustration. Either way, the discussion questions encourage students to think about who or what the text might be about.

When introducing a text, it’s also helpful to explain difficult or unusual words students will encounter. This assists with their overall understanding of the text, and develops their appreciation for the nuances of the language and the writer’s style. For many of the texts in English Stars, there is a handy list of words you may want to discuss. You can find it in the relevant Teaching Plan.

4. Study a text in depth

As students’ reading and comprehension skills mature, make sure students are getting the most out of the books they choose to read.

You can do this by exploring class texts in depth. Titles such as Refuge by Jackie French and My Girragundji by Meme McDonald and Boori Pryor examine themes that allow students to make sense of the world they live in. Other texts, such as The Curious Dictionary by Nick Earls and Terry Whidborne, provide plenty of opportunities to discuss how the author and illustrator portray characters and settings, and build suspense. Resources to help you teach these texts and others are available in English Stars.

Experiencing the joy of well-written literature in class gives students the literary skills and motivation to seek out fulfilling and challenging literature when choosing books they want to read for pleasure.

5. Embrace multimodal texts

When we talk about literature, it’s easy to assume we’re talking only about printed texts. But literature covers more than books on shelves. For example, the Australian Curriculum Year 5 description says:

Students engage with a variety of texts for enjoyment. They listen to, read, view, interpret and evaluate spoken, written and multimodal texts in which the primary purpose is aesthetic, as well as texts designed to inform and persuade. These include various types of media texts including newspapers, film and digital texts, junior and early adolescent novels, poetry, non-fiction and dramatic performances.1

Teachers can no longer rely solely on books to meet the requirements of the curriculum. And if we’re going to engage a new generation of literature fans, we need to teach students how to understand and appreciate multimodal texts.

Fortunately, the internet is a wonderful source of innovative multimodal texts. Unfortunately, they aren’t always easy to find, and knowing exactly how to teach a digital text can be tricky.

English Stars has curated an exciting range of multimodal texts in every year level. These include a poetry recital (who doesn’t love seeing Michael Rosen perform?), a TEDtalk, news reports, artworks, comic strips, mime … even a public art installation. Better still, we’ve provided you with all the teaching notes you need to explore these texts with students in a meaningful way.

We all know there’s no quick fix when it comes to reluctant readers. But if we give students the skills and motivation to read well, we give them the key to unlock the wonderful world of literature.

1. ACARA 2016, English - The Australian Curriculum v8.3, 2016, viewed 28 September 2018.
© Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) 2009 to present, unless otherwise indicated. This material was downloaded from the ACARA website ( (accessed 28 September 2018) and was not modified. The material is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license ( ACARA does not endorse any product that uses ACARA material or make any representations as to the quality of such products. Any product that uses material published on this website should not be taken to be affiliated with ACARA or have the sponsorship or approval of ACARA. It is up to each person to make their own assessment of the product.

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