I know I’ve mentioned this before but modeling SSR makes a huge difference in a student’ willingness to read. In the article “The Power of Independent, Self-Selected Reading in the Middle Grades” (Stairs and Burgos, 2010), Atwell is quoted discussing what she was taught by her students about independent reading and what independent reading within the context of school could do for them:
The ability to read for pleasure and personal meaning, like writing ability, is not a gift or talent. It comes with the ability to choose, books to choose among, time to read, and a teacher who is a reader.
I also think having read what the students are reading independently, as well as a willingness to take their recommendations, is key to fostering life-long readers. If a student can come to me and say, “You totally need to read this,” and I come back later and say, “Okay, I read this and here are my thoughts,” they realize that what they have to say has value. With validation comes the confidence to put themselves out there, not just when recommending books, but in other arenas as well.
Stairs, A.J., Burgos, S. S. (2010). The power of independent, self-selected reading in the middle grades. Middle School Journal, 41(3), 41-48.