This summer, I read The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child and was inspired to change my entire reading block. I loved every word that was written and found myself nodding in agreement page after page. As I began this school year, I was determined to have a "Book Whisperer" classroom.
Then the year began.
And I went back to my old ways.
Now, part of this is due to the fact that I was really only in my class for 4 weeks before my little one was born. But the other part was due to my own ingrained habits. Old habits are hard to break!
So instead of going all in, I decided to make small changes. I can do small changes. The small change came with my read aloud.
I have always read aloud to the kids, however, if something needed to "go" for whatever reason, it was always that. I decided that my read aloud time would be a sacred time in the class this year. That it would be something that we would never not do. So I had to get it woven into my daily schedule so seamlessly that it couldn't be forgotten. It is now part of our clean up routine at the end of the day. Kids clean up, come to the rug, we read. Done and done.
And I have to tell you...my class excites me so much now. We have read some books that are rather heavy and difficult. The Giver
. Among the Hidden (Shadow Children #1)
. Among the Impostors (Shadow Children #2)
(the kids wouldn't let me stop at just the first book in the series ;)) The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread
. I know that these are books that the kids would have passed up in the library. Yet each of these books has illicit a response from the kids that would make any teacher's heart smile.
If you follow me on Facebook, you know how much I talk about the books we are reading. I just LOVE the feeling I get when I walk to my line in the morning and the kids greet me with questions or predictions or inferences they have made about the reading from the day before. My students beg me to read more when I stop at the end of a chapter. They check the books we are reading out of the library so that they can read ahead.
What's even better is that the kids aren't just checking out Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Dork Diaries from the library anymore. They look at the Newberry winner list and check out books from there. They have learned that just because a book doesn't grab you within the first 4 pages, doesn't mean it isn't worth taking the time to read. The Giver didn't get us until about 2/3 of the way through. But once we were hooked, it was all we could do not to keep reading every minute of every day. I remember vividly the moment Among the Hidden got us. Page 40. Every pair of eyes was staring at me as I read the last line in the chapter, then begging me to keep reading (which, of course, I didn't....gotta build up the suspense ;))
I know that this year I have created lifelong readers out of these students, which was the ultimate goal of The Book Whisperer in the end anyway. While I didn't make major changes in my room, I am taking baby steps. And those baby steps are working. As one of my students said, when I was "convinced" by my class to read just one more chapter of our book, "Mrs. M is the BEST teacher ever!" Just for reading aloud. What could be better than that??