Cultivating A Community of Readers During Virtual Learning

Over the course of the past year, I have been challenged with how to keep my students engaged in reading when there has been little to no access to the school library. I learned really quickly I had to get creative with my strategies with a little mix of insanity thrown in. Below are a few of the strategies that have helped cultivate a community of readers within my school.

Reading Challenges

I created reading challenges to encourage students to get creative in when, where, and how they read. Examples of these challenges include reading to a pet, reading in your pajamas, reading a recipe, etc.. Students were to have an adult take a picture of them participating in the challenge and send it to me. I then created a movie to share with the school community showcasing all of the creative ways our students read. 

Reading BINGO 

Capstone publishing produces wonderful resources for free use. I downloaded their winter bingo reading challenge. Students who participated in the challenge over winter break received “happy mail” from me along with a bookmark. 

Virtual Book Clubs

Virtual book clubs have been another amazing way to cultivate a community of readers. Girls Who Code organization provides frameworks for two types of book clubs; a fictional novel and a nonfiction book. My fifth grade girls and I met every other week for 8 weeks to discuss and read the fiction novel that they use. It was a great time of bonding, reading, and learning more about coding.  Check them out:

Curbside Book PickUps

Organizing curbside book pickup has proven to be another very useful way to get books into the hands of my students. I worked towards teaching parents and students how to place books on hold in our online catalog system.  While participation in this activity has been small, I celebrate the notion of reaching an average of ten families a week in checking out books from the library. 

Intentional Book Selections To Read

Selecting books to read and share weekly has been a joy! I have tried to be very intentional about selecting books that reach my student’s social and emotional needs during time of virtual and hybrid learning. One of my favorites has been “Unplugged” by Steve Antony. This book stresses the importance of being “unplugged” from technology and the adventures one can discover when you do so. What an ideal topic during a time of heavy technology use!

If you have an idea you would like to share or need  support in implementing any of these ideas, I would love to help! Please reach out at [email protected].



Crystal Johnston is celebrating her 4th year as a school librarian at Dynard Elementary School in St. Mary’s County.  She recently graduated from McDaniel College with her Master’s of Science in School Librarianship. She loves connecting with her staff and students and making everyone feel welcome in her library.  

Share this post:

Comments on "Cultivating A Community of Readers During Virtual Learning"

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment