Sunday, April 26, 2015

Pay it forward: The Book Whisperer

I recently finished reading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. This is a phenomenal book for anyone who wants to better understand how to help students become life long readers. The book is chock full of practical advice that can be used in any classroom. Many of her philosophies on teaching reading resonated with me. As I work in schools I see many teaching practices that I believe discourage reading instead of encouraging it. I wish more teachers and administrators would read this book.

The message of the book is that in order to create passionate, life-long readers, teachers must create a learning environment that encourages independent reading. This means restructuring literacy instruction so that students have more time to read, not just having students read during D.E.A.R. time. Students should also be allowed to read books that interest them, not just randomly assign books that the teacher feels they need to read.

She also calls out practices that teachers have traditionally done, but that, in reality, discourage reading. Some of these practices are the traditional reading log or whole class novels. She offers some great alternatives to each of these activities that will build strong readers.

One of the favorite points she makes is that the teacher his/herself must be a voracious reader. It's pointless to tell students that they must read when the teacher themselves doesn't read! Plus, it makes it a whole lot easier to have conversations with students when know about the books they are reading. During online classes that I teach, I often ask teachers to share the last book the read for pleasure. I'm always surprised by the number who said they haven't read recently or only name the book they are reading with their class.

Pay It Forward

This book was given to me by a librarian from one of my schools. I loved the book so much that I decided to follow her example and pass the book on to someone else. I wrote a shore message in the front of the book and asked whoever gets the book next to do a few things:

  • After reading it, pass this copy on to someone else.
  • Support good books and purchase your own copy for reference or to mark up.
  • Send me an email or tweet letting me know your thoughts on the content.

I then left the book in the teacher's lounge at one of my schools. The title will catch someone's eye and hopefully they'll pick it up and read it.

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