How to Grow a Community Reading Culture in Your School District

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Imagine walking into any classroom in your school district to find a group of children clustered over a picture book reading aloud. Yet it’s not group reading time. It’s free time, and this is what they chose to do. Then, you walk into the lunchroom, where students are talking excitedly about the plot and engaging characters of the chapter book they just finished reading as a group. 


In fact, school is not the only place they read. With an increased passion for reading, these students read outside of school too. It becomes integrated into their daily lives, with a positive impact that extends beyond just the individual.


These are scenarios that come to mind when you have a well-developed community reading culture. These can all be achieved by implementing Beanstack. Our platform will help you build a strong community reading culture in your school district that not only fosters a love of reading, but also improves reading comprehension and test scores.


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What Does a Culture of Reading Look Like?

A culture of reading is where reading becomes a regular activity at your school. It takes root when teachers and librarians pair free-choice reading with fun initiatives that make it enjoyable. Over time, reading becomes something children choose to do—not because it’s assigned, but because they find it rewarding.


To develop a culture of reading in your school district, you need:

  • A wide range of reading materials for all interests and reading levels
  • Activities that make reading fun
  • Dedicated time to read
  • Free-choice reading options
  • Reading instruction that overcomes reading barriers for struggling readers
  • Community-based resources that incentivize and encourage participation 

You’ll know you have a strong reading community in your school district when all levels of readers choose to pick up a book to enjoy when they have free time, or when students are talking about what they’re reading without being assigned a group discussion project. But, creating a culture of reading does not happen by accident. Every district has students who aren’t naturally strong readers or who simply find it difficult to read for fun. Developing a strong reading culture requires strategic planning, motivated staff, and a whole lot of fun!


Why Is a Culture of Community Reading Important in Schools?

Time spent reading is one of the biggest indicators of student success in all academic areas. Yet, it is often challenging for teachers to motivate struggling readers. Creating a culture of community reading increases reading engagement and improves reading skills with less direct instruction from teachers.


In a 2016 study published in “The Journal of Multidisciplinary Graduate Research,” researchers followed one set of students over a nine-week grading period. They found that those who read for pleasure had higher average grades than those who did not. Interestingly, one of the biggest differences was in math, a subject not historically connected to reading.


This is just one small study, but many others like it show that reading for fun is directly connected to academic success in all areas. For instance, in another school in Texas, elementary students increased standardized test scores by over 60% by using the reading challenges available through Beanstack. Creating a culture of community reading increases the likelihood that students will spend time reading, and thus it is important to the academic success of the students in your school.


How Can Beanstack Help Nurture a Community Reading Culture in Your School District?

Literacy programs are one way to increase students’ interest in reading. However, some literacy services and programs can leave behind struggling or reluctant readers, instead of inspiring a love of reading and increased reading engagement. Beanstack is an innovative tool that combines technology with reading challenges in a fun, engaging format that encourages more participation in the district’s community of readers. Here are ways that Beanstack encourages more reading in schools.


Work Towards Community Reading Goals

Beanstack’s main feature is its facilitation of reading challenges for schools and libraries. You can create a district-wide reading challenge with a community reading goal, such as logging 1 million minutes by the end of the school year, and then encourage all of the schools to join in. Students are self-motivated to participate by logging their reading and earning digital badges.


Gamification features combined with the ease of setting up custom reading challenges for schools encourages greater participation. The school or district can offer a group incentive, such as a party or field trip if the community reading goal is reached. By doing so, you create a culture with readers encouraging other readers to participate, increasing the number of young people within the district who are reading. Overall, it’s important to invest the time in developing this culture of reading, and Beanstack helps support and accelerate the process.


Encourage Healthy Reading Habits

Through Beanstack, school districts can create reading challenges for their entire district, individual schools, or even classes. Students are motivated to read using proven gamification features, and there are no quizzes or levels to attain. 


This approach provides intrinsic motivation to read. Students see their badges adding up as they continue to log their reading, and this encourages them to read more. It’s easy, fun, and engaging, and all of this encourages healthy reading habits. You can also tie the digital rewards to physical rewards provided by the library or school, so students have extrinsic motivation as well. This makes using Beanstack one of the best reading incentive programs for schools, because it motivates students through multiple channels and helps streamline reading efforts.


Grow Literacy Skills

Beanstack has tools that let you connect all of your school library’s reading programs. Students can write and share reviews, access reading material within challenges, see recommended book lists from staff, and participate in a wide-range of challenges. And using activities, you can even connect to other programs your schools use. 

Additionally, our dashboards give educators a full picture of how much and how often students are reading. It makes it possible to monitor reading habits and trends, whether for specific students or larger grades and groups, to grow reluctant readers' reading skill and fluency through focused reading support and incentives. With Beanstack, you can even add options to check reading integrity to ensure students are truly doing the reading they are logging, all without additional teacher oversight. Our reading integrity features help verify reading comprehension and validity, which supports improved test scores.


Spread the Love of Reading

Through Beanstack, your teachers, principals, and librarians can also log their reading. You could even create custom challenges to showcase a curated list of reading recommendations or “top picks” from their principal, giving students a starting point to choose a new book to read. Readers can see book reviews from others in their grade or age range, which increases the desire to read a new book. Additionally, it’s possible for students to see where their friends rank in leaderboards, which can provide extra motivation to read more.


Cultivate Community Connections

Finally, Beanstack helps develop community connections. Your district and students can share their reading challenges and successes beyond the classroom. Involve the PTO/PTA, share updates on the morning announcements, broadcast challenge stats on social media. All these actions will help build that culture of community reading and connect all members of this community, including students, parents, educators, and more.  

Through Beanstack’s tandem feature, you can even connect school accounts to library accounts to connect your community to even more literacy programs. The ease of access means students can participate in reading challenges whether they are at home or at school, and the impact creates a community dialogue about reading. All of these community connections make the reading challenges and programs more successful. And they happen automatically through the app, reducing the workload on your staff.


Grow Your School District’s Community Reading Culture Today!

Research shows that students who read for fun are more successful. Developing a community reading culture increases the number of students who choose to read for fun, improves reading comprehension and engagement scores, and increases the success of your literacy programs.


If you are ready to grow your school district’s community reading culture, then schedule a free demo and see how easy it is to set up a community reading initiative that works in your district. Reach out today to learn more about implementing Beanstack into your district-wide reading programs.

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