When I was a child, I would read non-stop. I just loved the idea of taking this little adventure in my mind, envisioning what the characters looked like, and getting fully wrapped up in a book.
But all of that stopped after elementary school. Suddenly, I was forced to read books that I just didn't want to. There were endless discussions about "classic" books like The Catcher in the Rye
or the The Grapes of Wrath
and NONE of it interested me. Cliff Notes became my new reading material....and subsequently, I just stopped reading books altogether. I think I might still be on page 17 of The Catcher in the Rye
Now, as an adult, I am a spotty reader at best. There is literally no need for me to buy a Kindle, as it will be a waste of money. Every once in a while I will pick up a book and read....but usually, the computer/blogs/web articles is my main source of reading.
As a teacher, though, I really see the value in reading for my students. I tell them all.the.time that they won't get better at writing, or vocabulary, or social studies, or science, or ANYTHING if they don't read. But then what do I do in my classroom? Not read. I have noticed it for years. We read maybe 15 minutes a day. Yep. 15 minutes. I mean, there is a lot of directions reading, choral reading, kids taking turns and then we discuss the reading, read alouds by me, and A LOT of writing, but we don't actually take much time out for the kids to read on their own. So if I were to look at my individual students, some of them probably spend *maybe* a total of 5 minutes actively reading on their own without someone else intervening in on it. Maybe.
I really want to change this. So, as I was packing up my classroom for the summer (which officially began TODAY!!!) I grabbed this copy of The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child
that my aide gave me two Decembers ago. I figure I would give it a whirl. I am so glad I did. (click the title of the book to go to the Amazon listing for it)
I am half way through right now and I can already tell you that my mind is racing. This is really going along with everything that I already know about school success. It all boils down to reading. As Dr. Seuss put it (in my most favorite book ever) "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go."
As a teacher though, I really am torn all the time with my pacing plan and "getting it all in." I can honestly tell you that at times, when students finished their work and they took out a book to read, I would think, "What else could they be doing??" Yeah. Not very Book Whisperish of me. It just seems like there are so many things to learn and do and reading always seems to be not high on that list of priorities.
But Donalyn Miller is right. The kids need to be reading. The need to WANT to read. They need to become readers. And that starts with me.
So far, my takeaways are:
* Make independent, student chosen reading a priority in class
* Allow students the chance to talk about reading
* Show that YOU are a reader by taking part in the reading (not just doing work, etc...)
* Celebrate all reading success
* Plan your lessons so that they can apply to ANY book, not just one whole class book
The next few chapters seem to be about how to actually implement this into my room in a practical way. I am SO looking forward to reading about that. And when I do, you will be the first to know my new plan. :) (Sorry if you are following me on Facebook or Instagram.....this books seems to be all I can post about the past two days!! ;) )
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? For those of you who have already implemented some Book Whisperer stuff in your room, how did it change your teaching? Any tips, hints, stories to tell????