Sunday, September 13, 2015

Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer's Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits by Donalyn Miller

Donalyn Miller! Everyone has told me constantly how much this book was a must-read, and I am SO glad I finally sat down to read it. It's a very easy read, it feels conversational, but make no mistake, it's power packed with research and great stats to back up her beautifully authentic teacher wisdom.

Here's the basics: the "counterfeit activities" of schools prevent and often negate the real, "wild" reader each child is as a part of their natural, normal lives. This fosters a hate, instead of love of reading, as kids spend longer in the school system (aka... READICIDE). Or in Miller's own words: "In fact, the practices of many schools reading programs diminish and disregard the development of personal reading habits... Our children shouldn't have to wait for adulthood to become wild readers. For many it will be too late." (4)

In addition to her great wisdom and sharp anecdotes from her own classroom and surveys of "wild readers," she has great resource templates attached for everything you could desire, creating a workshop schedule, curating the library, etc.!

Chpt. 1: Wild Readers Dedicate Time to Read

"...the more they enjoy and develop confidence in reading and the more likely they are to read in their free time. We cannot tell children they need to read more and refuse to offer any time for them to read during the school day. Imagine schools where band, choir, debate, and athletics participants were not given practice time during the school day yet were still expected to perform. If we expect students to perform well as readers, they need time to practice reading at school, too." (9)

Chpt. 2: Wild Readers Self-Select Reading Material

"Read. Read anything. Read the things the say are good for you, and the things they claim are junk. You'll find what you need to find. Just read." -Neil Gaiman

Points for Gaiman, and points to Miller for choosing this to begin her chapter. She describes the pain of selecting, but also emphasizes just how important it is to be self-selecting!

Chpt. 3: Wild Readers Share Books and Reading With Other Readers

Benefits include: Foster connections with other readers, increase how much students read, challenge readers to stretch, improve reader's enjoyment and appreciation of what they read, suggest titles for additional reading, encourage mindfulness about what you read and share (98-99)

Includes some of my favorite digital tools: @nerdybookcl (website here), @goodreads (website here), #titletalk (monthy twitter chat last Sunday of each month at 8pm)

And my favorite definition of being a reading teacher, "A teacher who reads and a reader who teaches." (qtd from Teachers As Readers, 104). I feel my best always when I don't loose sight of this!

Chpt. 4: Wild Readers Have Reading Plans

Whether it's a challenge like #bookaday, a resolution, make sure to help readers keep track of plans, and model those for your students! Always keep a to-read list at the ready so there's never a "without a book" feeling.

Chpt. 5: Wild Readers Show Preferences

"Sometimes, you read a book so special that you want to carry it around for months after you've finished just to stay near it." - Markus Zusak, The Book Thief 

Again, she opens the chapter with a quote that couldn't be more perfect! From one genre, series, or author, reading widely to then help us read deeper into our preferences is a fabulous "wild" habit to cultivate.

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