Monday, April 23, 2012

The Book Whisperer

I have been seeing lots of references to The Book Whisperer:  Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donnalyn Miller, so I wanted to give my two cents. 

I read this book as I was preparing to teach 4th grade Language Arts.  Our eighth grade Language Arts teacher had recommended it.  I fell in love with it and couldn't put it down.  My Kindle copy is highlighted over and over. 

In the book, Donnalyn Miller talks about how she gave her students choices in what they read within the framework of genre studies.  She had her students read 40 books from different genres over the course of a school year. 

Based on her book, I put the genre studies to use. Being new to this type of program and for sake of not freaking out my students, I shortened the book requirements to 16 for the year. That was 4 per quarter and roughly one every two weeks. I counted books over 150 pages as 2. See file for the genre requirements, reading log, and reading blog pages for recording the student achievements. 

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(I have connected this with Classroom Freebies' Manic Mondays to allow more people access!)
I am happy to tell you that my students rose to the challenge and only 2 were 2 books shy of the 16 required books!  My 75 students read over 1,600 books.  Once a month, we held a book conference where students shared their favorite book choices. I have never heard students talk so much about their reading.  They couldn't wait until those meetings.  The biggest impact was on the boys.  They couldn't stop recommending books to ME and their classmates!  We kept track of our reading on a poster with incentive chart stickers and I had to keep adding pages.  It was amazing to see the growth even the most reluctant of readers made. 

There is one catch though.  You have to make time in your day for reading to self.  My administration doesn't like taking that much time, but we advocated for at least 25 minutes a day.  Just like in Daily 5 you have to build stamina, but it didn't take long to get them there.  During this time, I also picked 5 kids (per class period) to conference with.  That was once a week.  I took notes on what they were reading, asked them questions about their texts, and let them ask me questions.  The students also kept a notebook where they had to answer a 5 W's question a day.  They turned it in the day they conferenced.  This was the only part I would have changed.  It was an overwhelming amount of work daily to keep track of the 15-20 notebooks and recording my own responses to the children.

If you have not yet read this amazing book, you should! 

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday


  1. I found you through the link up and I'm so glad that I did...I'm reading this book RIGHT NOW :) Cool.

    Thanks for the freebie...I'm your newest follower.


    Fun in Room 4B

  2. We just did a book study at our school, and this is one of the books that some teachers read. I did not get the chance to read this yet, but I definitely want to. I am going to share your post with our staff! Thank you!

  3. This sounds like a great book! Thanks for blogging about it! It sounds like you had a lot of success implementing the ideas in your classroom!


    Third Grade's A Charm

  4. Ladies, thanks for the comments. It really is a great book and way of getting students reading. You might have a few reluctant ones at first, but the choices do wonders for kids confidence as they can read at their own level.