Back in June, we got an e-mail asking if anyone was interested in reading a book on reading instruction and then participating in a Twitter chat about the book in late August. I signed up and got sent this lovely book by Donalyn Miller called Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer’s Key’s to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits.
It sat abandoned on my desk until the end of July when I was doing my big clean and I remembered I had agreed to read it and participate in this talk so I had better start reading it. I’ve only read about a third of it so far but I am loving every bit of it. I love picking up a book about teaching and feeling that the author just gets it right away. First of all, she’s talking about one of my absolute favourite topics, reading, and advocating teaching how to insure that students not only read, but actually enjoy reading so right off the bat she’s in my good books. She calls people who read for pleasure “Wild Readers” instead of good readers, which I also love. Not only does it keep from stigmatizing people who struggle with reading by defaulting them to the “bad readers” category (I guess it makes them tame readers?) I also love the image of being a “wild reader”.
And of course, while I’m reading along, I’m picturing in my mind all these ideas from the book and other random ideas sparked from her book in my mind, imagining what I want to do in my classroom this year. This is challenging as I don’t know for sure what I’m going to be teaching this year, but as I don’t know, I’ll go with the assumption that I’ll be teaching Grade 5 again as that’s all I’ve taught for the past 6 years so chances are that’s where I’ll end up again. I’m picturing having my library laid out better than last year, with some extra seating options around the room for reading. I’m imagining making a new display on one bookshelf that my two students who choose to be class librarian for their class job get to create, displaying their favourite books for the class to see and choose from. I’m imagining having lots of book talks where students reading differing books can talk in small groups about what they’re reading and have some full class discussions as well. I’m picturing having a display in the hallway about book heros, having each student pick one hero from a book and explain what makes that person a hero. And I’m planning what kinds of data tracking I want myself and my students to use to celebrate their reading.
I love reading. I’ve always loved reading and I love filling my classroom with books and watching my more reluctant readers finally find something that they love to read and discover that they are readers too. I love talking about books with my students, my friends, anyone who will listen. I love the idea that reading instruction does not have to be bogged down with reading logs (Ug!) or lengthy book reports (yuck!) or whole class novel studies (Ick!). As a new teacher, I sometimes struggle with listening to what I feel to be true about learning versus what I’m being told is true by an “expert” about learning. In my view, a student is not going to learn to read fluently, with comprehension, etc. unless they learn that reading can be enjoyable as well.