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Classroom Management: Let Students Select Stories

Janelle Cox

Should students be able to choose what they want to read? According to research, motivation plays a critical role in engagement, and if students are engaged in what they are reading, they will desire to read more. Allowing students to make their own choices gives them a sense of control. Student self-selection gives students the opportunity to not only learn while they read, but actually enjoy what they read because they chose it. Here are five more classroom management reasons to let your students select their own stories.

Classroom Management: Student Selection Improves Academic Performance

Research conducted at the University of Maryland found that when students are given limited choices from a collection of books, it helped improve their performance on standardized tests, particularly the reading comprehension section. Giving students a choice has also been linked with scholastic achievement. Some researchers believe that when students (especially boys) are given the option to choose what they want to read, they will read for pleasure. Reading for pleasure has been linked with scholastic achievement in school. In short, if you want your students to improve their academic performance, allow them to choose what they want to read, even if it has to be from a collection of your choosing.

Students Will Become Better Readers and Writers

Studies have proven that when students read more, they not only become better readers, but better writers as well. The more they read and write, the better they become at it. When you give a child the choice to read what they desire, they will want to read more. The best way to get students to read more is to help them find one book in a series that they love, then they will want to continue to read every book in the series.

The same thing goes for writing. In order to write well, you must be able to read. If you’re reading a lot of books (that you choose), then you’re observing and learning about good writing. Through reading, you gain knowledge and understanding of how to write. As you read, you learn through the writers’ eye, and you learn grammar, punctuation, and what quality writing looks like.

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Students Will be More Engaged in What They’re Reading

When children can freely choose what they want to read, they will be reading for pleasure. Evidence suggests that reading for pleasure leads to increased achievement. A choice allows children to be enthusiastic about what they are reading, and in turn they will be engaged. Think about a topic that is of interest to you. If you were given the choice to choose one book about something that you’re interested in, wouldn’t you be more engaged in what you are reading than if you were told to read a book that didn’t interest you?

It Will Help You Structure Your Lessons

Another benefit of students being allowed to select their own stories is that it allows educators to observe and see what books and genres students are gravitating toward. Teachers can then take this information and alter their lessons and activities to connect with the particular genres the children like to read.

It Helps Students Learn to Take Risks

When you give a student a choice, it allows them to take risks they otherwise may not have. For example, your students your students may say that they “Dislike” certain genres of books, but if given the choice, you’ll be surprised of the books they may choose. If you were to tell your students they had to choose a science fiction book, knowing that they dislike this type of genre, but they were able to choose any title they wanted, you are opening them up to options they may have never explored before. The more risks students take, the more you open them up to things they may have never tried before.

The more you allow to make their own choices, the more more likely they will explore new genres. Trust your students to take control of their own reading and find books that they love and enjoy.

Do you use classroom management to let your students self-select their own books? Please share with us in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.