One of the many tasks I am given as a school librarian is to help foster a love of reading in our students. Reading is such a passion of mine because of the adventures I can go on and the lessons I can learn. All students should have access to positive reading experiences, whether it be in partners, small groups, or independently. For many years now, the Accelerated Reader program has been a popular program to add some accountability to independent reading. But it can cause stress for some students, and for others the requirement of hitting a goal takes all the fun out of reading. So let’s talk about five accelerated reader alternatives that are fun and effective.
1. An Epic! Alternative to Accelerated Reader
Epic! is one of the first alternatives for the Accelerated Reader program I recommend due to the eye-catching and easy-to-navigate site. Students receive access to thousands of books. Not just generic reading level test type books, but new and popular books that all their friends are also reading! There are multiple categories ranging from Social Emotional Learning to Science and everything in between. This gives our students the freedom to read and learn about what interests them. There are also audiobooks available for students to choose from which helps support struggling readers.
Student choice encourages students to read more, and Epic! does a great job of making their display of the book options particularly attractive to their eyes. Once they have found a story or topic that they want to explore, students can read the digital story on their own, or they can also listen to it being read to them. This helps tremendously with their reading fluency!
Teachers and even parents can monitor the progress their children are making and track the number of pages and books read as well. Teachers can further individualize their students’ reading experience by creating short quizzes based on the book to check for understanding.
Another strong alternative to the Accelerated Reader program is Whooo’s Reading. The Accelerated Reader program is multiple choice with questions that are about one specific detail that might not be easily remembered. On the other hand, Whooo’s Reading focuses on what our students know, how deeply they can go with their thinking, and also how to improve their responses for the future.
Once our students aren’t forced to choose from a selection of books, magic happens. Whooo’s Reading works with every book and can also be differentiated. After reading their book, students will take a comprehension quiz to assess their understanding. Instead of multiple choice, students are asked 1 to 3 Depth of Knowledge questions. Depth of Knowledge is a scale that helps determine how much thinking is needed to answer the question. Its goal is to promote higher-level thinking.
After answering the questions, students receive immediate feedback from an AI generator supported by the National Science Foundation. Students can make revisions based on the feedback for their reading and writing. This real-time feedback helps students see right away how they could add more detail and go deeper into their thinking.
An added incentive for students completing the quizzes is earning coins that they can use to add items to their owl avatar.
On the teachers’ and librarians’ end, we can easily monitor student progress. Immediately, we can see their quiz results and data reports that create a clear picture of skills mastered and skills that can be practiced more.
Do you love Goodreads? Goodreads is a website where you can have digital bookshelves for ‘to-be-read’, ‘currently reading’, and ‘finished reading’. You can then engage with other users through recommendations, reviews, and discussions. That’s what Biblionasium is but for kids!
During the school day, I know my students love when they are able to engage with technology. Biblionasium combines their love of technology with the joys of reading! Students review, rate, and recommend books in a safe online platform. Like Goodreads, your students can display the books they want to read, are reading, and have already read to recommend to their classmates and parents. The more books they read and the more recommendations they give, the more badges they can earn.
Teachers can assign reading logs and create challenges for students to participate in. You also have access to reports for the progress your students are making.
Biblionasium is an engaging alternative to the Accelerated Reader program and gamifies the reading experience for our students.
4. Book Taco – a Vibrant Alternative to Accelerated Reader
This alternative to the Accelerated Reader program is full of energy! Book Taco offers many interactive components that will help students to grow positive independent reading habits. And. . . teachers are provided a ton of helpful resources to help their students and track their progress.
On Book Taco, students can play and take care of a digital pet. Each time they read, they earn more time to interact with their pet! This helps them develop the habit of reading frequently in order to make sure their pet stays healthy – a little R and R (Reading and Responsibility).
Book Taco has developed a platform that gamifies the reading experience for students. Students will be able to compete in collaborative activities or interact in solo activities. In addition to book quizzes, there are spelling and vocabulary games, reading logs, and writing opportunities. Students are challenged to dig deeper through the engaging games and they are motivated by the rewards page. The more they read, the more they can earn from the rewards page.
Beanstack is a unique alternative to the Accelerated Reading program. It’s a reading program that uses a digital platform to track books, but a lot of it takes place in the real world. As the school librarian, you would create reading challenges for your students. Students participate in the challenge, and whenever they meet a goal, they earn a digital badge. The more they track their reading, the more chances they have to earn a badge and a physical prize to incentivize independent reading!
Writing book reviews and completing other activities around reading help your students to earn more badges and prizes. If they are able to, they can even download the app to track the minutes read, scan books, and receive recommendations. If they log in each day, they will create a streak that earns them points toward more badges and physical prizes.
Librarians and teachers can also track and monitor their growth in reading through the data collected based on minutes read and activities completed.
Beanstack also has the opportunity to help set up a fundraiser for your school. You can organize a reading challenge for the number of minutes read to encourage your students to raise money. Along the way, there could be milestones to keep students’ motivation high all the way to the end.
Are You Ready to Expand Reading Horizons?
Using one of these five alternatives to the Accelerated Reader program you can enhance your students’ experiences when it comes to reading. The stress and overwhelm will dim and they can begin to develop a positive relationship with books and reading. Reading doesn’t and shouldn’t have to be something that is dreaded. The more students are able to independently read while exploring their interests, the more the world will open up for them!
Save for Later!
Remember to pin this post to your favorite reading Pinterest board and return when you are in need of a new alternative to help increase your students’ engagement during independent reading.