Let’s Create a Culture of Reading

Let’s Create a Culture of Reading

by Evan Robb

The culture of a school can set the tone for educational excellence. Positive school cultures develop over time through intentional repetition when the principal and staff are on the same page, working in partnership to improve their school for students, families, and the community. Common to a school with a positive culture is a principal who models the culture they want to cultivate through norms, expectations, values, and beliefs. However, culture, or more specifically a reading culture, cannot be single-handedly created by the principal—the entire school community needs to come on board.  As a school leader, you can impact your school and build a commitment to a reading culture, but you must also collaborate with and support staff.

Time for Action!

The first step can start with the principal. Challenge yourself to consider how you might enhance reading in your school so that students, staff, families, and the community think of your school as a place that values and promotes reading. 

What is the first step you need to take to create a culture of reading? Carve out time to accomplish the goal. There is an old saying in education that is still true: if something is important to you, you will make time to do it or create an excuse for it not to happen. Reading is important! I suggest making short commitments to celebrating reading during part of your day. Consider doing each of my five suggestions at least once a week. A few minutes each day can start your school on the path to enhancing its commitment to reading. 

Check my five tips to advance a culture of reading in your school!

  • Visit classes and catch students reading—celebrate and positively reinforce what you see.
  • Read aloud to a class.
  • Post books you’re reading during the year on your office door; invite teachers to do the same.
  • Communicate to staff through your words, e-mails, or articles your commitment to independent reading and explain its value.
  • Send video messages to families about the importance of independent reading, including suggestions to find family reading time.

Planning Is the Path to Your School’s Culture of Reading!

Daily commitments to promoting and celebrating reading send a positive message to students, staff, and families about your belief in reading. While this is happening, think ahead and consider the following longer-term questions for you to work on with staff to get them on board and start the journey of creating a culture of reading.

  • As a school leader, are you consistently promoting reading and using my top five suggestions as part of your journey?
  • Is independent reading occurring every day in ELA classrooms, and are you encouraging teachers to allow for independent reading each day in class?
  • Does the schedule need to be evaluated to find longer blocks of time or to add reading support classes? 
  • How are you partnering with teachers to promote reading in the school and at home?
  • What professional development does staff need to meet the diverse needs of readers?
  • Could you consider organizing a staff book or article study to make time for professional conversations on reading?
  • Does your annual budget adequately fund classroom libraries and your school’s media center? 
  • Are you working with your librarian to consider how your school’s media center could transform over time to better promote reading? 
  • If your school does not have a librarian, how can you work with teachers to collectively promote reading?

Let’s Make It Happen!

Developing a culture of reading, like any school initiative, will take time, leadership, collaboration, and commitment. But it is time well spent. 

Every school in America and across the world would benefit from developing a culture of reading. Enjoy the journey as you observe students and staff develop reading identities and a personal reading life. 

Become the “reading principal” for your school!


What Next?

Join author Evan Robb, Laura Robb, Travis Crowder and host Patty McGee for a free PD webinar, Developing Fearless Readers and Writers Panel, now available on demand. This panel of world-renowned experts will explore how educators can help students move past fear and hesitation to discover deep, authentic engagement with reading and writing. Watch now! 


About the Author

Evan Robb Evan Robb is Principal of Johnson-Williams Middle School in Berryville, Virginia. Prior to this, he was an English teacher, department chair, assistant principal, and a junior high school principal. He has received the Horace Mann Educator of the Year Award in recognition of his leadership. Evan is the co-author of Schools Full of Readers: Tools for Teachers, Coaches and Leaders to Support Students.


You May Like: Schools Full of Readers: Tools for Teachers, Coaches and Leaders to Support Students

Renowned educators Laura and Evan Robb wear their hats of teacher and principal to lay out a plan for how teachers, coaches, and administrators can increase reading volume in any school—no matter what. Highlights include:

• How to focus on the best of the best practices for instructional and independent reading

• Succeeding with streamlined shared leadership so meetings stay short and momentum stays strong

• Listen & Look-For Checklists that help coaches and administrators get more out of classroom visits and guide professional learning and self-reflection for teachers

• Using the 4 Bs—books, brains, budgets, and boldness—to find money, fill libraries, and bring about a reading revolution