Why Teachers Should Give Themselves Reading Homework

It’s not really homework, it’s self-care!

When was the last time you curled up with a book, and not the latest professional development tome or fifth grade novel that you’re about to teach? Chances are, not likely. Only 36% of adults read for fun every day (though an additional 23 percent read for pleasure a few times a week).

By now it’s old news that reading is good for you:

So reading is good for us and we don’t read enough. But, where to find the time?

  • Set a page budget. When author Julien Smith decided to read a book a week, he figured out how many pages he needed to read each day to accomplish this (40). Then he didn’t leave his house in the morning until he’d read his daily pages. If the idea of getting up early to plow through a book isn’t appealing, try climbing into bed 30 minutes earlier than usual to read.
  • Take it on the go. Justin Miller, who also committed to reading 52 books in 52 weeks, found it helpful to have his book with him at all times, whether in ereader or hardcopy.

Our advice: give yourself homework. You’ve got the discipline to grade 100 essays each weekend and plan lessons weeks in advance, apply that same determination to something you love to do. Set a daily page or time goal and prioritize the time. Or, use short spurts of time during a commute on public transportation or during your lunch break (those short snippets of time can energize you during the day and keep momentum as you progress through the story). And, don’t hesitate to let your students see you read. If you’re mid-chapter when they return from lunch, all the better! 

Two more tips to read for fun more:

  • Don’t multitask. If you’re reading on an ereader, put away your phone so you’re not tempted to check your email or go online.
  • Only read what you love. Don’t be afraid to put down a book you don’t enjoy. To find new books, try Good Reads or Which Book that provides book ideas based on criteria you choose.

What’s the best book you’ve read for fun lately?