Monday, June 16, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I spend an abnormal amount of time reading on the weekends.  It's a priority.  Or a sickness.  I don't know.  Some may say to that I need to get a life, but, reading is a big part of my life.  So, there.

Mondays, I'm going to hook up with Book Journey's weekly meme to share a current book that is creating sparks in my thinking.  Skip on over there to share your own reading and also, to see what others are diving into.

It's hard to focus on just one book, however, Donalyn Miller's, Reading in the Wild, sequel to The Book Whisperer, is my top priority to digest and let marinate in my brain.  (If you have not read The Book Whisperer, read that first ~ it's a must-read.  The two go hand in hand.)

The coolest thing about Donalyn Miller is that she writes in such an authentic voice.  She's real.  

And, she is honest.  She begins this book admitting how she used to blame the upper-level teachers and schools when her former students lost their reading motivation.  After all, in The Book Whisperer, she claims that all, if not most, of her kids leave her room as passionate readers.  She felt that if only the teachers would give them class time to read, self-selection/choice in choosing their books and the teachers would also read and share their own passion of reading, the kids would read!  Obviously, teachers were not doing this is why kids quit reading, was her belief.

This is where reflection comes in and taking a good look at ourselves as educators. 

 Donalyn then realized that she herself was not creating "independent" readers.  When her kids left her room, Donalyn was not there to support, encourage, and find those perfect fit books for them.   She thought her kids could do this on their own - after all, they could while under her wing.  However, her kids had not internalized the life-long habits that they needed to remain readers WITHOUT this daily support.  Had Donalyn continued to believe that her kids' reading habits beyond her own classroom were not her fault, this book would never have came to be.

Donalyn shares ways to instill these life-long habits and make them stick.  She helps us understand how to:

*Get to the root of fake reading.
*Help readers find time for reading inside and outside of school.
*Become CONFIDENT in self-selecting reading material.
*Give readers time to talk about books in book communities.
*Develop reading plans.
*Discover reading preferences, authors and topics.

You think you already know this stuff.  You don't.  Donalyn branches off in helping us try out strategies beyond what we normally do. 

And then, shows us how to make it stick.

Why?  Why is this even important?  Why use our teaching time for this? 


"Children who love reading and see themselves as readers are the most successful in school and have the greatest opportunities in life."
"No matter what standards we implement or reading tests we administer, children who read the most will always outperform children who don't read much." 
Research supports this over and over.

"But, some kids just are not born readers," you say.  "You can't TEACH a kid to want to read."

Donalyn calls this a cop-out and that if we believe this in our heart and soul,  we are selling our students short.  This dismisses us, as teachers, as having responsibility for our creating readers that love to read. 

Ouch.  The truth hurts.

I'm half-way through the book.  I'm already scribbling notes all over the pages, stopping frequently to ponder, and writing in my own reader's notebook in how I might apply these new understandings, so this book will take some time.  I can't wait to dig deeper into Donalyn's thoughts and do some unlearning to make room for new learning.  I just love it when a book does that. 

Shari :-)


  1. I've been following Donalyn Miller on twitter, and have read interviews, etc. but haven't actually read either of her books. In my own way I aspire to be a book whisperer for my 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students. I tell my students that my number one goal for every year is to turn each of them into a lifelong reader. I also threaten to haunt them just to be sure :). You may have convinced me to start with Book Whisperer, even though I planned to begin with Miller's second book.

    1. I would have to agree with you to start with the second book and then refer to the first one when she does. In her second book, she goes deeper than the first one, so you'd be getting the most out of both of her books by going that route. Let me know what you think! :-)

  2. Shari,
    Sorry to be slow getting around to your blog. I've added your reflection to the #cyberPD jog. I enjoyed reading your reflection. You write with such voice. I feel like I'm sitting beside you chatting about the book.

    Like you, I loved Donalyn's honesty and the way she looks at the tough problems we all face in our workshops. What does that really tell us about our readers? What can we do about it?

    Thanks for the heads-up about the meme at Book Journeys. I'm going to have to stroll over to check it out.

    Looking forward to continued conversations,