"Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him."
IChapter 4 of The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller is enlightening. It so clearly states truths about what all readers do and how to foster a classroom environment that will develop life long readers. Here are some of the most important points that you will want to take away with you:
I have truly enjoyed reading The Book Whisperer and know that it has added value to my instruction as a reading teacher. I highly recommend and encourage all of you to add this amazing book to your reading plans.
- Have an honest discussion about the behaviors of a real reader. Have an open conversation about how readers choose books, steal time to read whenever they can to read and know when to abandon a book when it just isn't a good fit.
- Create, through open classroom discussion, a reader's bill of rights to validate their habits as readers. Openly share your experiences with abandoning books, skipping pages, rereading and other valuable and key choices as a reader. Ownership of their reading behaviors will validate their choices and open them to a world full of amazing literary opportunity.
- Getting students to read must include student choice. Even if we think that the books the students are reading simply, well, are not the best choices. We must let them take ownership of their reading choices and know that some reading is ALWAYS better than no reading at all. Validate their choices and encourage diversity in genres by finding connections to their interests.
- Encourage students to have reading plans but remember to meet students where they are. Encouragement and many, many recommendation with help your readers make plans for their future reading by following favorite authors, reading a series or setting goals to read from a list of awarded books. Good readers have an insatiable need to read, and finishing one book generally feeds the need to start a new one. Most students are use to being told what to read but to truly foster the love of reading, the responsibility must shift to the reader.
- Set the bar high. Mrs. Miller set the requirement of 40 books per school year with a variety of genres. She wanted to make sure that they read enough to catch the reading bug and by setting the goal a little higher than expected, students knew that they had to read everyday to stay on top of their requirements. Unanticipated challenges fuel the fire to want to expand their knowledge text but there is also added benefits to adapting to certain genres.
- Use read alouds to encourage students to branch out into new fields of reading. Exposure is key to growing readers.
- Build background for different genres of books and encourage the appropriate common language that reader use when discussing books in depth. Use what students already know about the elements of characterization, plot development and setting to classify books and provide a wide selection of books to meet students interests and needs in each genre.
- Encourage and validate any and all reading that your students and your children do independently.
- Introduce and use a reader's notebook as a way to facilitate conversation about the reading habits of your students and to monitor growth and progress as a reader. This, paired with individual conferences, will give you insight to their ability to comprehend their reading and where their interests and success lie as they grow into self motivated readers.