This instinct is one that many avid readers have, however it is not something that many of our students would necessarily chose. Summer rainy days often are met with the comment "I'm bored". Or more often now, kids choose to turn on their iPad, plug in their game console and "check out". What are some tips that we can use as teachers (and parents) to instill the innate reaction of "It's raining - perfect time to read a book". Here are a few of our suggestions below:
TIP 1: Model "rainy reading" yourself! At TLA, we are firm believers in the gradual release of responsibility. In terms of teaching, we constantly think "I do, we do, you do". We can't expect our students (or own children) to take on behaviors that we do not practice ourselves. So next time it's raining, do a think aloud for your students "Oh this is my favorite time to read and I have just the book I want to dive into!" Show your students what it looks like to be enthralled in a text. Like so many great things, this could be "caught" not just "taught".
TIP 2: Have a stash of books ready! Keeping back a few beloved titles from your classroom library collection is something we recommend for many purposes. Because students curiosity is piqued by novelty, it's a great idea to keep back some books you know well for a great rainy day read-aloud. Make a big fuss about it too and you'll soon find kids "buzzing" about getting their hands on that book.
TIP 3: Read more than just "books". Magazines, maps, and cookbooks are all great resources to have handy for students to read. Too often, students don't get a chance to do this kind of reading because they are working on specific reading strategies. However, these types of texts lend themselves to different kinds of reading skills that are just as important for students (determining importance, synthesis, using text features). Who knows, maybe one of your readers will even find a great recipe to share with the class for the next day!? That's what we call a win-win!
TIP 4: Make it cozy! Pull out the pillows, turn down the lights in your classroom and let the students pick a different "just right spot" for reading. When you are reading at home in the rain, it's often curled up on a bed, couch or comfy chair. Encourage that same idea in the classroom. We worked with a teacher once, who kept spare sheets in her room and would allow the students to build forts and read underneath them with flashlights on "rainy reading days".
TIP 5: Reflect on the experience! Finally, when the rain has stopped take a moment to talk with your students about "reading in the rain". What did they like? What could have made it better for them while reading? How could they establish this routine for themselves at home? John Dewey said "We don't learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience." Giving the students time to think and talk will ideally engrain this love of reading more deeply. Then, the next time the sky opens up, so will a new book for them!