Entice reluctant readers, build fluency, and make curriculum connections by using Wizards of the Coast Books for Young Readers in your classroom or library discussion group.
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Additional Activities with Time Spies
Find corresponding black-line masters to use with these activities by clicking on the link. All black-line masters may be copied or shared for use in the classroom.
Picturing New Worlds, Part II -- After students have tried drawing a scene that you selected, ask them to draw a scene that they found to be particularly vivid. Give each student a copy of the Picturing New Worlds, Part II black-line master. In addition to drawing their scene in the center of the frame, ask students to write the words that helped them get specific images in their minds around their drawing in the frame itself. When they’ve completed their pictures, have students share their drawings and the words that inspired them. Discuss what was easy or hard. You might ask, were there things they had to make up? Are there things they learned from this exercise that could help with their own descriptive writing? (Language Arts, Art, Writing)
A to Z, New to Me -- Candice Ransom uses rich vocabulary in her Time Spies series. This game encourages students to notice and value new, challenging words. Have students work in pairs. Give each pair an A to Z, New to Me black-line master. Pick nine letters and each pair of students should write those letters, one letter per box, on their game sheets. In partners, students return to their Time Spies book and find and record one word beginning with each letter (you can specify that the words have to be found in one or two specific chapters). When students have finished, bring the group back together to tally each team’s score. Teams get points as follows: one point for each word, one additional point if they are the only team with that word, one more point beyond that if they find a word that they can define, but other teams can’t. Record all the words on a white board or chart paper which can be posted to reinforce the new words. (Language Arts, Vocabulary Development)
The Same and Different -- If your students have read the first three books in the Time Spies series, have them fill in a Venn diagram, using The Same and Different black-line master noting the similarities and differences between the first three books of the series. Alternatively, have students fill in a two or three circle Venn diagram comparing several tellings of a given folk tale. (Language Arts, Writing)
Badlands Bingo -- As your class reads, work together to compile a list of 25-35 challenging but interesting words. When you have a list, you’ll be ready for Badlands Bingo. Write the words from the list on index cards. Then hand out a blank Badlands Bingo black-line master to each student. Read all the words aloud and have students fill in their bingo boards, being careful to get the spellings right. Remind students to fill in the words randomly so each student’s board will be different. Then shuffle the words. Either you or a student can draw word cards one at a time to read out. Players cross out a word when it’s read. The first one to have a row covered wins. (Language Arts, Vocabulary)
More Classroom Activities
What Do You Know Now?: A Reader's Response Journal
Find the Dinosaur!
maze black-line master
Secret Names in the Tower
Reaching Out to Reluctant Readers . . .
It can be challenging to convince a “non-reader” to pick up a book. While advanced or eager readers tend to get our attention, a significant number of would-be readers are left behind, and the number of these reluctant readers is growing.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, fewer than half of all fourth graders read on a daily basis. By the time children enter eighth grade, only 19 percent say they read for fun on a daily basis. Unfortunately, that’s a trend that continues into adulthood.
Authors who were reluctant readers share their stories below.
Thankfully, we can do a lot to reverse the trend. Like adults, children are still thrilled by a good story. Give them a character they can identify with, an adventure that takes them to interesting places, and they’re hooked.
One bright spot in particular is the fantasy genre. Polls of young readers show that both boys and girls gravitate to fantasy. In a recent survey by the National Education Association, students picked Harry Potter as their #1 choice from over 8,000 titles. Books in series form fared well too, with children reporting they liked reading better when they knew they could look forward to the next volume in a series.
To better help you get more young readers interested in reading, we have consulted librarians, teachers, and other educators to come up with a range of creative suggestions for your use. The program we have built from this input offers a variety of materials to help you identify reluctant readers and begin getting them interested in books. Take a look at the free downloads below to get started.
Inspire Your Reluctant Readers
These authors were all once reluctant readers, too!
Debra Green, Author of Maya Made Over and Maya, Mortified (Star Sisterz)
"When I was in first grade, I was placed in the slow readers group, probably because I was so quiet. The teacher told my parents, "Don't worry. She's not bright but she's pretty, so she'll do okay." This did not reassure them!"
"In fourth grade, for some reason the teacher thought I was smart. She had me test for the gifted program, and it turned out I was gifted. Once I heard how smart I was, I started acting smarter. I just needed that confidence. This teacher also gave me the lead in the class play, which helped draw me out of my shyness."
"I later became involved in the drama program from junior high through college, got a law degree from Berkeley, and published novels. Thank you, fourth grade teacher. No thank you, first grade teacher."
Dan Willis, Author of The Dragon Well, Dragon Knight, and Wizard's Return (Dragonlance: The New Adventures)
"I was never much of a student. It wasn't that I couldn't do the work; it just didn't interest me. Now we know that kids learn in vastly different ways. For me, and kids like me, the classroom can be a very daunting place. I never did well in English and I ended up spending eight years in college bouncing around from one major to another and never earning a degree. In high school I couldn't diagram a sentence to save my life. Despite all that, I became a published writer. I learned the skills I use by reading hundreds of books. I discovered reading as a child and soon I couldn't get enough. Now, I just have to look at a sentence to know if it's wrong. I still can't name all the parts, but I know how to use them because I've seen hundreds of thousands of correct sentences in books. Some of the greatest men in history were poor students, men like Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, and Albert Einstein. One thing they all have in common, however, is a voracious appetite for reading."