Inquiry Project Blog Post #1: Fostering Reading Cultures in Schools

How Do I Currently Foster a Reading Culture?

There are so many ways that we foster a reading culture in our schools.  Below, in my first ever PowToon video, are some of the ways that I currently do so.  Please note that when I tried embedding it with the html code that it automatically changed to a hyperlink (it requires a plugin which my version of WordPress does not allow).


What Could I Do in the Future?

Even though I already do a lot to foster a reading culture in my school, there is always more ideas and new, innovative ways to inspire and motivate students.

An event I haven’t yet done, but have seen done in my School District is an event called Bookworms and Dragon’s Breath.  It’s an event that piggybacks off of our Battle of the Books competition by using the same books.  In Bookworms and Dragon’s Breath, the students in Grades 3-7 who want to participate create multi-age teams.  The catch?  They need kids from each of the three grade groupings (3/4, 5, and 6/7) and they need at least two adults (teachers, parents, staff members, etc.). The kids can read any of the books regardless of the age level (so if a grade 3 student wanted to read a book from the grade 6/7 grouping, s/he could). Plus, they can read as many or as few as they want.  The adults have their own books to choose from.  The teams meet weekly and have to come up with team cheers, team costumes/themes, and team banners. On the event night, they come together for a potluck, all dressed up and ready to go. There are points awarded for costume, theme, banner, song, and spirit.  They answer questions as a team, and the questions are quite interactive and fun (i.e. part of the question may involve a taste test or a song).  I’ve attended one and the participants all have a blast, but I just haven’t had the opportunity to do it yet!

I am also taking LLED 462 and we were just learning about cultivating life-long reading habits.  As part of the readings/resources, we read a variety of articles and viewed a youTube video by Stephen Krashen called “The Power of Reading,” which you can view/read below. I will warn you that the video is quite long (almost an hour), but it is an interesting watch (I will give you a brief summary below as I am assuming you may not have time to watch it right now).


The articles we read:

Kelley, S., & Miller, D. (2013) Reading in the wild: The book whisper’s keys to cultivating lifelong reading habits. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. p.88-128.

Gaiman, N. (2013, October 15). Why our future depends on libraries, reading an daydreaming. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Institute of Education, University of London. (2013, September 11). Retrieved from

As a gist (since I imagine you will not have time to read all the articles and watch the video in its entity), the articles/video discuss the extreme importance in reading for pleasure and in free voluntary reading, which, in essence, is allowing children to read whatever they want because they want to.  It has been found that children who read for pleasure do significantly better at school than children who do not, which includes the areas of math, vocabulary, grammatical construction, spelling, writing, and knowledge about the world (Institute of Education, University of London, 2013; Krashen, 2012).

In Kelley & Miller’s book, they discuss the importance of building reading communities in order to help readers develop connections with other readers, increase how much children read, challenge readers to think more critically, increase reader enjoyment and appreciation, and help readers share ideas (Kelley & Miller, 2013). They discuss the importance of building reading communities by modelling/ promoting/ sharing reading (to show that we value reading), educating parents about the importance of reading (and free voluntary reading), and increasing access to books (Kelley & Miller, 2013). Kelley & Miller (2013) suggest providing book recommendations and home reading tips in newsletters and on the school website, “I am currently reading” signs on doors and lockers, morning announcement book recommendations, partnering with the public library, and loaning classroom library books to parents and siblings. Some other creative ideas by Kelley & Miller (2013) that I would like to try out include:


Reading Graffiti

Kelley & Miller (2013) describe how they put up black butcher paper along
one wall of their classroom and invite students to share any lines from their favorite books.  It becomes a focal point and inspires students to read quotes, ask about titles/books, and encourages reading (Kelley & Miller, 2013). I could even see potential in doing this in the hallways to make it more school-wide.


Book Commercials

Book commercials are short testimonials about books, lasting about 5 minutes as a quick end-of-the-day or transitional activity (Kelley & Miller, 2013). The books are recorded and compiled on a list displayed in the classroom. Again, I could see this being used school-wide by doing it over the announcements or at an assembly.

Image by Donalyn Miller via Instagram.

Reading Doors

Kelley & Miller (2013) describe how Reading Doors can be used to start of the year by having staff members showcase what they like to read on their doors by making a collage or display of book jackets and screen shots of things they like reading. It helps to kick off the year by discussing and sharing texts and can later be taken over by students showcasing their likes/interests (Kelley & Miller, 2013). I think this would be a fantastic way to start the year and hope to get this going in 2016.



In addition to the above ideas, I came across some other ideas during my inquiry.  Since I am really keen on learning different ways to incorporate technology in my teaching, I thought I would look up different ways to use technology to help foster a reading culture.  Below are some ideas I discovered during my search (and from my reading review).

Book Trailers

I first came across the idea of Book Trailers in Beth Holland’s (2013) Projects to Engage Middle School Readers. She discusses how students can create book trailers using iMovie or Animoto.  It seems like an excellent way to get kids excited about stories while also incorporating persuasive writing, digital literacy, and seeing what they know about the story’s plot, setting, theme and main characters. During my inquiry, I also came across Bill Bass’s 2013 article called “From Inspiration to Red Carpet: Elementary Book Trailer Project” and Barbara DeSantis’s “Making Book Trailers with Animoto.”  These articles further demonstrate how to make book trailers with students.  Bass outlines a 14 day process using Photo Story while DeSantis explains the 5 steps she used with her class.  I could potentially see kids making these in the library and having them highlighted at weekly school assemblies to promote reading.



Similar to Book Trailers, I came across the idea of making Book Recommendation Posters that could be posted on our library website and printed off and put up in the hallways or in the library.  There are so many programs out there that one could use.  I tried making one with PosteryMyWall.  It was a free program that had numerous templates that students could choose from.  It was quick and easy to use.

Library Website

During my inquiry, I came across David Loertscher’s 2008 article “Flip This Library.” I had read it this past summer, but rereading it reminded me how important it is to have an online presence in your learning commons.  He states, “In the virtual world, the learning commons is both a giant, ongoing conversation and a warehouse of digital materials – from ebooks to databases to student-generated content – all available 24/7 year-round. Thanks to social-networking software, information can flow not just from teachers to learners but in multiple directions: among students, from students to classroom teachers, from teacher-librarians to classroom teachers and students” (Loertscher, 2008, p. 47). Many other sites and blog posts reiterated this message (Johnson, 2014; Kirkland; Naslund, 2008). As a teacher-librarian, then, I can use the website to help foster the reading culture by making it more interactive and accessible to staff, students, and families. Some of the elements that I could include on the website are:

  • Space for parents, teachers, and students
  • Access to online databases and the OPAC
  • An area for book requests
  • Links to useful sites, games, and learning tools
  • Surveys and polls
  • Twitter updates
  • A Blog space for students to recommend books and other resources (and to highlight other important events or ideas)
  • Hosting online book clubs

Virtual Author Visits

Another idea that I got during my inquiry was from Doug Johnson’s “Top 10 ways to use technology to promote reading” article.  One of his tips includes doing virtual author visits, which has you bring an author into your school virtually using different video conferencing programs, such as Skype or Google Hangouts. He includes a link to Skype an Author Network which helps teachers connect with authors. I think it would be a fantastic way to get students excited about reading.

These are just some of the neat ways that we could foster a reading culture in our schools.  I’m excited to read about what others discovered in their inquiry.


Bass, Bill.  (2013). From Inspiration to Red Carpet: Elementary Book Trailer Project. Edutopia. Retrieved from

DeSantis, Barbara. (2015). Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Rodrick Rules. youTube. Retrieved from

DeSantis, Barbara. (2013). Making Book Trailers with Animoto. Animoto Blog. Retrieved from

Gaiman, N. (2013, October 15). Why our future depends on libraries, reading an daydreaming. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Holland, Beth. (2013). Projects to Engage Middle School Readers. Retrieved from:

Institute of Education, University of London. (2013, September 11). Retrieved from

Johnson, Doug. (2014). Top 10 ways to use technology to promote reading. Blue Skunk Blog. Retrieved from

Kelley, S., & Miller, D. (2013) Reading in the wild: The book whisper’s keys to cultivating lifelong reading habits. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. p.88-128

Kirkland, Anita Brooks. School Library Websites: The Brick and Mortar of the Virtual Library Space. Retrieved from

Krashen, Stephen. (2012). The power of reading. The COE lecture series. University of Georgia. Retrieved from

Loertscher, David. (2008). Flip This Library: School libraries need a revolution, not evolution. School Library Journal, 46-48.

Miller, Donalyn. (2015). [Untitled image of a Reading Door]. Retrieved from

Naslund, Jo-Anne. (2008). Towards School Library 2.0: An Introduction to Social Software Tools for Teacher Librarians. School Libraries Worldwide, 14(2), 55-67. Retrieved from

Renwick, Matt. (2014). [Untitled image of a Reading Graffiti Wall]. Retrieved from




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9 Responses to Inquiry Project Blog Post #1: Fostering Reading Cultures in Schools

  1. Fantastic post! Your Powtoon was great! It is a wonderful tool for explaining and describing, too bad the free wordpress won’t let you embed it directly. Your collection of ideas, suggestions, links, videos and other media are all super helpful and insightful for exploring this important topic, and to help our students select the best resource to get them reading. I really enjoyed this and your blog post has all the required aspects for publishing! Great work!


  2. Yvonne says:

    Angela, I was very impressed with your PowToon. You make it look so easy to do. I only just learned about this tool in this course but would like to try it with my primary class sometime. Thanks for sharing such great ideas to foster a reading culture. I was especially interested in the School Wide Book Train. Can you give a little more information from your past experience? Who rotates? Do the younger children stay in one spot and the older children “move along the train”? I can see this working as a great activity during DEAR Day. I also appreciated your encouragement to get parents involved and educated. Developing a reading culture at school is so much more beneficial if this is also fostered at home. The more we can do to excite children and families about the delights of reading, the more successful we will be at developing a love of reading in our students. During our regular library book check-out time with my grade two class (this is not a prep block at my school so teachers attend with their students), I leave time at the end of our period for children to volunteer to give a mini-book talk about which book they chose and why. This is very informal as the child holds up their book, shows a few pictures and highlights one or two interesting things. The children love this time to brag about their books.


    • aaiello22 says:

      Hi Yvonne,

      Before I was a TL, I did the book train just with my class as a reading activity (just for fun), where we would line up in pairs along the floor (or in chairs). They would read with the buddy and then when I rang the bell, the children on the right side of the train would get off the train and hop on board the next “train car” –> move to the chair in front of them. The front person moved to the back. When I became a TL, we tried it out as a whole school activity on DEAR day. Reading was one of our school goals and we thought it would be a fantastic way to celebrate reading and DEAR Day. We started off with our buddy classes lined up in the hallways. The younger students stayed put while the older kids did the moving. Teachers/staff participated, too (so it was literally the entire school). After the kids did it once, it was easy to do again (as a staff, we would choose certain days to do it). It was lots of fun and a great activity for DEAR.


  3. ntessier says:

    Wow! I was blown away by your blog and especially the PowToon part. I will definitely be giving this a try…sometime after parent-teacher conferences this week. You reminded me how parents are an important part of the equation. I also liked the new ideas for DEAR, which our school does too. We usually invite parents in for that time to come in and read with their child or with a group of children anywhere in the school. (The gym in off limits)


  4. Jena Wiebe says:

    You have some really great ideas about fostering a positive reading culture. One idea I would like to try is the Reading Doors as I think it is important for students to see that their teachers enjoy reading, especially at the high school level where students may never see their math or PE teacher reading a book for pleasure. I have also been meaning to look into the virtual author presentations. Have you participated in one before? Did your students find it engaging?


  5. clabrietl says:

    I really enjoyed your “Powtoon” video. What an amazing idea! I am working as a Teacher-Librarian for School District 22, and we will have to collaborate with other Teacher-Librarians in our District. I appreciate that you shared the piggyback events from Battle of the Books. I had never heard of these events. I am excited to explore these ideas to try them at École Beairsto.


    • aaiello22 says:

      Harwood has been doing Bookworms and Dragon’s Breath for several years. I’ve been to observe one year and it was quite amazing to watch. BX started it I believe (I’m not sure if they still do it though).


  6. Pingback: Future Vision Blog #1: Future Vision Project Scope | aaielloblog

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