Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Reading in the Wild

Miller, Donalyn. Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer's Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2014. Print.

image from:

So instead of writing about this book like I normally would, I'm going to share my notes, my "AHA!" moments, my "things I don't want to forget, but I can't mark in this book because it belongs to the library" kind of notes. I did write some commentary (in blue) and highlighted some things that I really want to catch when looking at this post. Hope you will get a sense of this book and perhaps pick it up for yourself. I am glad that the appendices include many of the great ideas Donalyn uses in her classroom!

"No matter what standards we implement or reading tests we administer, children who read the most will always outperform children who don't read much" (Miller xix).
"Readers are also more likely to succeed in the workforce" (Miller xx).

Wild readers:
  • dedicate time to read
  • self-select reading material
  • share books and reading with other readers
  • have reading plans
  • show preferences for genres, authors, and topics
"If we care about our students' reading lives, we must foster their lifelong reading habits and eliminate or reduce the negative influences of classroom practices that don't align with what wild readers do" (Miller 4).

Chapter 1: Wild Readers Dedicate Time to Read
"I am a better teacher because I read" (Miller 6). 
"develop stamina for reading" (Miller 9).
"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" (Miller 9). 
"Our students must see themselves as readers, or they will never embrace reading beyond school" (Miller 9).
"At-risk students need substantial reading time and access to peer communities that value reading" (Miller 10) instead of being pulled out for various reasons like skill and drill work
"Reading emergencies"--times when you are stuck somewhere--can sneak in 5-30 minutes of reading
Binge reading
Reading Itinerary
Fake reading
"writing page goals...holds [students] accountable and helps them see that they will finish a book if they read a little bit each day" (Miller 32).

Keeping Track of Your Reading Life page 33
  • reader's notebooks
  • response letters
  • status of the class
Creating a Workshop Schedule That Works for You page 37
"Our daily work in the classroom values best practices and doesn't become bogged down with a lot of must-dos and tired activities that crowd out authentic learning opportunities for our students" (Miller 40). 
"We reject what we know is right for what is easier...Are we creating a place where reading a lot, writing a lot and thinking a lot happen in our classrooms?" (Miller 41). 

Chapter 2: Wild Readers Self-Select Reading Materials
LOVE the quote by Neil Gaiman to start the chapter!
  • Read Alouds (page 48) (This made me think of Penny Kittle. Good advice here about how to incorporate into any classroom/grade.)
  • Creating Book Buzz
  • Abandoning Books (page 58)
  • Guess My Lexile "What concerns me is that in many situations, Lexile measures become the sole factor in book selection and recommendation" (Miller 63). [Lexile] "provide teachers and librarians with one measure for making book recommendations...but [students] shouldn't wear their reading levels like a badge and become defined by them" (Miller 64).
  • The Mature Shelf
  • Selection Reflections
  • Conferring Points "My aim is to help [students] develop self-confidence in choosing books for themselves" (Miller 73). 
  • Building Preview Stacks (BOY, I do this often in the library!)
  • Keeping Track of Your Reading Life (page 74)
Curating a Classroom Library (page 79)
"I believe that children need both school and classroom libraries" (Miller 80).

Chapter 3: Wild Readers Share Books and Reading with Other Readers
"Working each day of the school year to build a classroom community that values and supports every member serves my bottom line goals. It's easy to get lost in the mindless drudgery that comes with teaching--grading, meetings, testing. Focusing on our goals provides clarity of purpose and reduces our willingness to compromise the real work of our classrooms: helping children develop their capacity to have meaningful lives filled with purpose and joy" (Miller 90).
"If we want children to read more, we must provide them with classrooms, libraries, and homes where reading is the norm" (Miller 91).
Great tips/ideas of making a reading culture (page 92-93)
"There always seems to be $ for test preparation materials, assemblies, and curriculum kits, yet we run out of $ when it comes to purchasing books and funding professional development. What we spend our money on reflects our true values" (Miller 95).
"Reading communities have these benefits:
  • foster connections with other readers
  • increase how much readers read
  • challenge readers to stretch
  • improve readers' enjoyment and appreciate of what they read
  • suggest titles for additional reading
  • encourage mindfulness about what you read and share
"Most wild readers don't compose critical reviews....We certainly don't build dioramas or write diary entries from a character's point of view. When we finish a book, we consider our personal reactions to it, and if we appreciate it, we share the book" (Miller 100).

#titletalk-last Sunday of the month 7 p.m. CST

"The most effective reading teachers are teachers who read...Teachers who read are better equipped to build successful reading communities in their classrooms and connect their students with reading and books...We must show our students what a wild reader looks like through our examples" (Miller 106).
"While we need to stay informed about what they read and remain connected to our students, we don't need to participate in every discussion or endorse every book" (Miller 109).

Books that Build Communities (page 110-113) suggested titles and synopsis--most are MG
Reading Graffiti-students share lines from books (page 113)-could do this in library
Book Commercials
Reading Doors (page 116)
Epicenter Readers
Reading Influences
Keeping Track of Your Reading Life
Conferring: What's the Point? good ideas here!

Chapter 4: Wild Readers Have Reading Plans
"The different between readers and nonreaders is that readers have plans" (Miller 137).
Wild readers "set personal goals" and "students must learn how to make their own reading plans, reflect on their individual accomplishments, and find personal reasons for reading or they will never become wild readers" (Miller 139).
"We learn as much from the plans that don't work. What matters most is moving forward as readers, determined to improve and grow" (Miller 148).
"No one who reads should apologize for their preferences and reading experiences...even the most avid, open-minded readers confess to skipping awards winners, avoiding certain genres or postponing books for so long they remain unread" (Miller 149).
Check out Appendix E for book recommendations
"Students who set their own independent reading goals take ownership of their reading beyond school and develop self-efficacy and motivation that doesn't depend on the expectations or guidelines of individual teachers or school reading programs" (Miller 157).
Building a Personal Canon "the books that have shaped and define us" (Miller 159).

Chapter 5: Wild Readers Show Preferences
"We must push ourselves to read widely in order to best serve our students...the more widely we read, the more expertise we offer to our students" (Miller 167).
"Wild readers preferences become more valuable, reliable, and accurate the more they read" (Miller 169).
"light reading [i.e., people think graphic novels] provides the competence and motivation to continue reading and to read more demanding texts" (Miller 171).
ways graphic novels support readers:
  • motivation (six points listed)
  • scaffolding (eight points listed)
"Students reread books for three reasons: they want to absorb a treasured story into their skin, they want to cement their knowledge of topics and ideas, or they don't know what else to read" (Miller 175). 
Historical fiction-"using overly didactic texts turns kids off reading and studying history and notable people" (Miller 177).
nonfiction "We expect students to read nonfiction only for class work when assigning research reports" (Miller 179)
"We must look for meaningful ways to incorporate nonfiction material in our classrooms if we want children to read more of it" (Miller 179).
using nonfiction texts in the classroom
  • add more nonfiction to book talks
  • read-aloud nonfiction texts
  • use nonfiction as mentor texts
  • pair fiction texts with nonfiction on related topics
  • provide students frequent opportunities to preview, read and share nonfiction
genre graphs (190)

Appendices are great tools (could be modified for older grades)

"Some of you will read the acknowledgements because you are completists" (Miller 254). Yep.

Even though I am a "completist," I didn't read the references or index. 

I don't remember when I first heard of Donalyn Miller, but I've been "tracking" her for a few years now, and got to hear her in person this year at TLA, so I am happy that I finally took the couple of days needed to devour this book. If I were still in the classroom, I'd be armed with some new strategies. As a librarian, I can use what I read to help me make "wild readers" of all students who enter the library (or at least give a good try!). Now that I've read her second book, I will go read the first one she wrote, The Book Whisperer.  I will also share promote force this book upon my English teacher friends. 

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