How to Make Time for Independent Reading in Remote Learning

You just have to get a little creative.

A child listening with earphones in connected to her tablet
Digital technology lifestyle of school girl child or student using wireless internet for distance learning application and reading e-book app on mobile ipad smart device multimedia computer tablet

Back in January, the International Literacy Association released a report in which 70% of educators said there isn’t enough time set aside for independent reading. And with so much learning now happening remotely, it’s become even more of a challenge to fit in. Independent reading has incredible benefits, from improving reading achievement to boosting confidence to building background knowledge. We can’t afford to leave it out, and fortunately, we don’t have to. Read on for our tips to encourage independent reading during remote learning.

Set aside dedicated time

It may sound obvious, but we do have to be intentional about prioritizing independent reading. Once a week, consider swapping out a live teaching session for quiet reading time. This could be a good time for you to hold individual reading conferences.

Do digital book talks

Give kids the chance to get excited about what they’re reading. It could be as simple as having them share their favorite books on a Zoom call. Or you might set up some digital platforms (Padlet works well for this) where kids can post their thoughts about their reading and classmates can react and respond.


Set up reading buddies

Consider pairing students up by preferred genres or series and establishing a regular “phone a friend” activity. Reading buddies can read to each other, read together, or just talk about the latest Magic Tree House. With this strategy, there’s an accountability piece plus some much-needed socialization.

Run online book clubs


Breakout rooms are the perfect avenue for this! Make sure your groups have access to the same text but let your students take the lead. You can pop in and out of the rooms to help keep them on track. Maybe you could even join a book club yourself (you’ve been meaning to reread Pride and Prejudice anyway, right?).

Take advantage of eBooks

Your students are online already. You might as well be using eBooks! Check out our article on ways kids can read free eBooks.

Use audiobooks 

Audiobooks are a great opportunity for students to hear fluent reading. Try the free offerings from Audible for all levels. We’re also big fans of the celebrity readers on Storyline Online for elementary kids. Reinforce to your students that listening to books “counts” as reading. 

Start a reading challenge

Nothing like a little good old-fashioned reading challenge as motivation! 30 minutes for 30 days is a fun one. You could also try a read-a-thon. For those who complete meet their goals, you’ll want to check out our list of best virtual rewards.

Get your students on Goodreads

Students 13 and up can sign up for a free account on the literary social media network. It can be a great way for them to track what they’ve read, rate books, get recommendations, plan their next read, and interact with other readers. Read this article for more ideas on how to use the platform with students.

Share your reading life

We always talk about the importance of modeling, and independent reading is no different. Your students need to see you as a reader, too! Did you know there’s a Chrome extension that lets you share what you’re currently reading via your email signature? 

How are you making time for independent reading in remote learning? Come share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE Facebook group.

Plus, Educators Say There Isn’t Enough Time Set Aside for Independent Reading.

How to Make Time for Independent Reading in Remote Learning