Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller

Reading changes your life.
Reading unlocks world unknown or forgotten, taking travelers around the world and through time.
Reading helps you escape the confines of school and pursue your own education. ...
Reading shows you how to be a better human being.

  • This is an important book for teachers
  • This is an important book for teacher-librarians
  • This is an important for school administrators
  • This is a book I wish I had read in 2009 when it was published - it is inspirational
  • If you only buy one book for your own professional reading - make sure it is this one.

The Biggest Obstacle to Reading? Time

My blog is called Momotimetoread because the book Momo is an allegory about our use of time and because too many children (more so in recent years) say to me 'I didn't have time to read ... '

Donalyn Miller gives kids time in her classroom and she gives them choice and she exposes them to a huge range of genres and authors.  She gently and authentically encourages every student - the keen and the reluctant to read and read and read.  My school library was certainly filled with books - so much choice - but I seemed unable to give the kids time when I only saw them once a week and I know at home time for reading is rapidly disappearing.  I wish all class teachers in Middle and Upper Primary grades could read this book - The Book Whisperer - in the hope that some of our classroom practice might change.  

I have thought for a long time giving every child in a class exactly the same book to read with sets of contrived assignments is not a way to develop 'real readers'.  

"Teaching whole-class novels does not create a society of literate people."
"No one piece of text can meet the needs of all readers."
"Reading a whole-class novel takes too long."
"Whole-class novels devalue prior reading experience."

Here are quotes from this book:

"Why is the need to motivate and inspire young readers such a hot-button issue? ... This topic is in the limelight because so many children don't read. They don't read well enough, they don't read often enough; and if you talk to children, they will tell you they don't see reading as meaningful in their life."

"I am convinced that if we show students how to embrace reading as a lifelong pursuit and not just a collection of skills for school performance, we will be doing what I believe we have been charged to do: create readers."

"Do the teachers read? Most teachers who are not readers themselves take a skills-based approach. ... The instructional edge goes to the teacher who sees reading as a gift, not a goal."  "How are they supposed to become readers if they don't have any role models to emulate? ... You cannot inspire others to do what you are not inspired to do yourself."

Turning the teacher into a reader:
Commit to reading every day, choose books to read that personally interest you, read more books for children, take recommendations from your students.

Types of Readers :
Developing Readers - They need to read and read - the chance to feel success as readers instead of experiencing reading failure
Dormant Readers - Reading is work, not pleasure - these students need to discover that reading is enjoyable
Underground Readers - These students are gifted readers but they see the reading they are asked to do in school as completely disconnected. These students "have such advanced reading abilities and sophisticated tastes that few teachers design instruction around their needs."

(Some) Conditions for learning (read this book for a more comprehensive list)
Expectations ...

Here is a short journal article which summarizes some of Donalyn's philosophy and is a review which also highlights some of the main points shared by Donalyn.  Listen to an audio sample here.  Here is a video where Mr Sharp talks with Donalyn.

This is what I want for my students, to lose and find themselves in books.

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