Taking The Mystery Out Of Reading For Fun
Finding the joy in reading is a core principle in Loni Gordon’s first grade classroom. In order to make sure her students see reading as something more than something they do while they’re in school, she’s transformed the month of May into Mystery Reader Month.
Two to three times a week, a mystery reader will come to Mrs. Gordon’s classroom and read one of their favorite children’s books, or a book Mrs. Gordon selects for them. Guests can range from parents of students to school leaders, and Mrs. Gordon said she can see a difference in how her students are engaging with books within the classroom.
“Every time the phone rings in the classroom, the students get really excited and ask ‘is that another mystery reader? Is that another mystery reader?’” said Mrs. Gordon. “I always want to make sure that I’m helping my students find their love for reading. Learning to read at a young age can be hard, so I want to provide as many opportunities as I can to show my students that reading is fun and something you do for enjoyment.”
Mrs. Gordon, who is in her 20th year teaching within the Granville Central School District, said she has seen a tremendous amount of buy-in from parents and members of the community as well.
“So many people have volunteered to come into the classroom and share time with our students,” Mrs. Gordon said. “It’s at the point where it’s hard for me to fit everyone who wants to read into our schedule. That’s a good problem to have.”
Many of the books that the mystery readers read to the class have connected to reading skills the students have been learning throughout the month. One parent came to the class and read Dawdle Duckling by Toni Buzzeo, which tied in nicely to the lessons the first graders were completing on character traits. Another parent read Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell. Mrs. Gordon was able to tie in some of the lessons shared in that children’s book with her lessons on understanding themes and relating to a story on a personal level.
While not every parent will be able to come read to the class, Mrs. Gordon said she’s seen the impact the program has had on students outside of the classroom. Students have been asking their parents or siblings to read to them more, which is critical to creating skills that will carry over throughout the students’ academic careers.
“Mystery readers are making reading fun. Any time teachers can help motivate parents or siblings to read to their students, the more success that student is going to have and the more progress that student will show.”
Mystery readers was a program Mrs. Gordon started back in 2018, but had to pause during the pandemic. Now that the program is back, she is thrilled to see her students growing more confident and curious about reading with each passing day.
“I love being able to organize Mystery Reader month. Getting to see my students become that excited about reading means the world to me. It’s creating a connection to reading that will last a lifetime for these students.”