A bunch of amazing bloggers and thoughtful teachers are linking up to study this book this summer, and I've decided to get on the bandwagon. I'm so excited that Catherine at The Brown Bag Teacher decided to launch this! Donalyn Miller is my hero, and it's because of The Book Whisperer that I set reading and genre goals with my students this past year. And boy oh boy, did they knock my socks off! At the end of the year, kids had read an average of 32.5 books! My goal for them was 25.
Now, to be fair, some of the credit needs to go to the new Literacy person in our district. She was insistent that kids read for half an hour a day in our sixth grade classrooms. That took some shifting around. We switched to the CAFE and a modified Daily 5 (more like Daily3) model mid-year, which was more stressful for teachers than kids. The kids LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the freedom to choose when they worked on things.
And I loved watching a kid stand in front of my bookcases looking for a book. Often, another kid would walk up and say something like, "Do you need help finding a good book?" And then they'd go off talking about what they'd read and what they thought was good. It was such good stuff!
In her intro, Donalyn (do you like how I call her by her first name like she's my new best friend?!) worries that having kids fall in love with reading in her class didn't necessarily turn them into lifelong readers. Especially if they read less in middle school. Maybe I'm an eternal optimist. I think the happy memories they had of reading in her room (and yours and mine) will come back to them at some point, and they'll turn back to books again.
Now, here's the rub. In order to get kids to fall in love with books, they really, really need to read every day. For a while. And I know that's really hard in some classrooms, and even harder to convince some administrators. But how do you make a kid want to take his/her book home? By getting them so immersed in what they're reading that they don't want to put it down!
Charts don't do it. Reading logs don't do it. Pure and simple: reading a good book makes you want to read more! One thing I need to do better is encourage kids to take books with them when they're waiting for something, waiting in line, waiting for a speaker at an assembly, whatever. And that why I'm going to post this quote by Sherri Chasin Calvo somewhere in my room!
If you have never said, "Excuse me" to a parking meter or
bashed your shins on a fireplug, you are probably wasting
too much valuable reading time.
Keep reading! And link up to this wonderful book study!