The Book Whisperer....Ramblings about Silent Reading

I finished reading The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child a few days ago, and wanted a little time to digest before I bombarded you {again} with my thoughts on it.

My mind is spinning with how I can make my classroom more "reader friendly".  I keep thinking about what I actually do in my room, what works and what doesn't, and how I can tweak it to be a place where kids are actually reading.

When I first started teaching, I did SSR (Sustained Silent Reading).  There are lots of names for this time of day (as I have learned from reading blogs ;) ) but basically it is the time of day where the kids just free read.  They don't choose a book from the library, they don't write, they don't color, they just read.   I did this partially because it was mandated by my school, and partially because I wanted to.

OK...mostly because it was mandated.

When it stopped being mandated, it slowly slipped off of my schedule for more "important" things.  Well, it is back now.  After reading the book, I realize how important reading choice is to have built into the class time.  So I have officially placed it on my daily schedule.  I am thinking of having it right after lunch (which is when I used to do it)  1 -- because that is a great way to calm the kids down after a run around lunch and 2 -- I currently don't really have a "must do" at that time.  I know Mrs. Miller talks about bellwork and how reading is more valuable but I honestly am not ready to give up the Language Arts bellwork I currently do and there is no chance of me giving up Calendar Math.  Sorry Mrs. Miller.....

So after lunch it is.

Every once in a while I do want them to reflect upon their in class reading.  Not, but a few times a week...maybe even once.  I don't know.  I haven't really pinned that down.  All I know is that I want them to be held accountable to something and reflect.  I need some sort of writing to go along with the reading....I can't give that up just yet ;)You can download a copy of the poster here (they are free ;) )
  So I will have these posters that I made, and have used in Handing Off discussions, shrunk down and placed in their Reader's Notebooks.  While I don't really envisioning making them use the stems, if the students need to, they will have the resource available. 

Those are my summer ramblings for now.  Do you do SSR (DEAR/IRT/Whatever you call it) in your room daily?  Do you have any responses to go along with it?  How do you set it up?

Oh, and there is a book study on The Book Whisperer going on right now on We Read, We Blog, We Teach.  For more thoughts, and to join in on the discussion, head on over.


  1. I run a full Reading Workshop in my room, so my kids have "SSR" time for about 30 min. each day. I have them write a journal entry to me each Friday sharing what they have read and how they have applied the skills we have learned during the week.

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

    1. A weekly journal entry is a great idea! We do SSR after my class returns from Science. I teach our mini-lesson after that. It makes for a smooth, quiet transition. Then, the kids are eager to dive back into their books and apply what they've learned!

      Hokie Teach

  2. I too struggle with the accountability piece. We have AR, but not everything I want them to read or they want to read have AR quizzes. I teach 3rd grade and like the ideas of journal entries - but while I like it happening for everyone the same day, I think it would make looking through them all of them and responding every weekend difficult. Always looking for more ideas!

    1. I agree. Looking through journals (any journals really) all on the same day becomes very overwhelming for me. I want the kids to know I read their responses, and to have a reading dialogue going on, but 34 journals on the same day would get tedious. Not sure what to do about that part just yet ;)

    2. Last year, I had groups of students hand in their notebooks on different days of the week, with a few more in the Friday group than in the others. This way, I only had 5-6 notebooks to read every evening.

  3. I read the book while I was getting my Masters last year, so before I started teaching. I definitely implemented some of her ideas, but now that I have a year of teaching under my belt, I think I should re-read it. During our reading rotations, one rotation was almost always Read to Self (I ended up not doing D5 in my room, but the name stuck). The class LOVED it. It was nice to do it that way because not everyone in the class was reading at the same time, so they could sit around the room. I also mandated that during any "transition" time while they were waiting for us to get started, they should read. It was great because it kept the room quiet, and it was a valuable use of their time. Same went for being done early- almost always, the choice for early finishers was to read. It made planning much easier for me, and they truly loved being able to read their own books.
    As far as journals, some teachers on my team would read five journals a day. It could be random, or students could have an assigned reader response day. That makes the reading and responding management much easier. It's definitely something I plan to implement next year.

  4. I think it would be a great idea to have the class divided into 4 or 5 groups. Each group would have their journal due one day of the week, every week. There would be no excuse for it not being done because (for example) Group 1 would always have a journal due on Monday, Group 2 on Tuesday, etc. The teacher can then just grade five or so journals a day. If you did four groups for the entire class, then you wouldn't have to grade any at all on Friday! :)

  5. Hi Stephanie - I do SSR time everyday and I usually pull my small group during that time because it is quiet. I also rotate the 5 laptops in my room during that time as well. So basically 5 students on the laptops on various reading websites, 5-8 students with me and the rest are doing SSR. I have also created several reading response sheets that I teach into for about a week or so. They practice in class and then again for homework. By the end of a couple of weeks they can choose which reading response they want to do. I have created several different ones. If you email me, I can send you the ones I have created.
    I am waiting for my copy of the book to come! So excited!!!
    Irene (

  6. I do SSR every day. I try to incorporate as much technology as I reasonably can, so my students write reflections on the books they're reading on their blogs weekly. They also have to give commentary for their peer's responses. I haven't read The Book Whisperer but finally bought a copy. I'm excited to start reading it!

  7. I call mine IDR (Independent Daily Reading) and it's the core of my reading instruction - about 40 minutes a day, 3 times a week, which made time for 2 group meetings per day. This year I had a reading log where the kids wrote a 1-2 sentence reflection about their reading for the day.... it was okay, but not something I think I'll stick with. I also did weekly reading letters, but allowed each kiddo 20 minutes on the computer during the week to write their letters on Google Docs. It made responding a lot easier because I could copy and paste the letter. Because I did it that way, it was easier to do all the letters at once, rather than space it out during the week. I also had one day set aside for student-led Literature Circles, which I loved and so did the kids!

  8. Our DEAR/SSR time got dropped this year and I hated it! I am making a personal point of bringing it back next year no matter what!! Book Whisper has been sitting on my shelf since last summer and I've heard so many wonderful things about it. It sounds like a good that just confirms what we all know to be good practice but sometimes gets pushed aside by district mandates. Can't wait to check it out.

    The Teaching Thief

  9. I use your reading response mats. I teach the various responses (and some of my own) during the year. Sometimes I require that they use a particular strategy, sometimes they can use whatever strategy they want.

    After each SSR session, they are to do a response. In the beginning, I read all - yes, it takes a lot of time but I get to know their interests, their thinking, etc. Then, we slowly move to me reading a few each day. If the student really has something that he/she wants me to respond to, he/she can request that I respond to him/her. Otherwise, I let them share with a partner or sometimes a group. They love to talk about their reading and that also inspires the others to read.

    I have them respond to their reading at home as well. They keep their responses in a notebook and I can review them as I need.

  10. I love that so many people are getting into reading The Book Whisperer. I'm going to be having a life chat session soon so that teachers can discuss exactly how to incorporate idea from the book in their own classrooms. I'd love for you to join in.


  11. I use Readers' Workshop in my classroom, so independent reading is a big part of our day. My kids have a work period of about 40-45 minutes every day. Most of the time, they engage in independent reading for that entire time. One day a week, they write a reading response journal (6 or 7 kids every day so I don't have too many to read at once). They might also spend part of that work period in a small group lesson with me. I confer with individual students the rest of the time.

    Accountability is always challenging, but these are a couple things that work for me. First, letting them have choice is so motivating, and that eliminates a lot of problems. Next, one of the first mini-lessons I teach is how to take care of yourself during independent reading. We make an anchor chart on good reading behavior and refer to it often in the beginning. Finally, I let them spread out around the room and read wherever they are comfortable so long as they are taking care of themselves. Even though having them all over the room can seem like a recipe for disaster, I find that having them spread out and not all crowded around their desks reduces off-task behavior. Best of luck--independent reading is so important!

  12. Yes, I also do ssr, or? , after lunch! It's a great time to do it because it does calm them down. Sometimes it's from 10-20 minutes depending on o their AR progress. They say that they like it because its quiet and they don't always have that at home.

  13. Our bell rings at 7:55, but I let the kids start coming in at 7:45. Our announcements start a little after 8:00 and then we switch classes at 8:15. So I did do away with my morning work. I save my bellwork for the beginning of each subject since we are departmentalized and kids are moving all over the place. My kids love the calm start to our morning and the extra time to read. We also read just after math for a few minutes while the rest of the kids are doing their snack time. The kids read again when they come in after lunch or sometimes I do a read-aloud for that time. Then we are off to switch again. We do book commercials each week to hold the students accountable for what they are reading. It is also a great way to keep kids motivated to read new books. In the kids reading blocks they are usually doing their independent reading, an assigned task, or a book club with the teacher. We also let the kids spread out when they read. Having our kids do the 40 book challenge this year really helped them to grow. We had 110 students and only 4 students didn't meet our state standards on testing. However they did make growth from the previous year.

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