Reading In The Wild: Chapter 1

Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer transformed my classroom these past two years, so I was excited to see a book study was started to discuss Donalyn's new book, Reading in the Wild.  I'm linking up with Jivey to talk about Chapter 1.  

I totally relate to Donalyn's first chapter where she talks about how reading is a part of who she is.  As the daughter of a librarian, I feel like I grew up in a library and have a special love for books.  I love that quote of Meg Ryan's from the movie You've Got Mail where she says, "When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does."  

Some of my most vivid memories of childhood involve books...getting Little House in the Big Woods for Christmas, spending a whole summer reading the Anne of Green Gables series, finishing Gone With the Wind on Christmas Eve and crying my eyes out.  I want all the students in my classroom to feel the same way about the books they read in 5th grade!

Something funny happened today that shows just how dorky I am when it comes to books. My husband and I were hanging out at Panera in Ann Arbor passing the time while we waited for our daughter, Bonny, to finish taking the GRE test.  I was working on a lesson to go with the book The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

I was telling my husband what a great story it was, and I made him read it.  Then I was talking to him about the symbolism I see in the story and some of my favorite parts, and I said, "I love this line...As he went to the door, he turned and smiled, then waved goodbye.  "I'll carry you all in here," he said, and pointed to his heart."  I said, "He's talking about the books!", and I actually teared up.  My husband took one look at me with tears in my eyes and started laughing hysterically until he was literally crying too but for a different reason!  Yes, I am a dork about books!

Donalyn talks in Chapter 1 about reading every day and everywhere.  I do not go to sleep ever without reading first.  Even if it is only for five minutes.  I will often think to matter what, lights out by 9:30, and lo and behold it's 10:15, and I haven't been able to put the book down.  But even on those nights when I could fall asleep before my head hits the pillow, I still read for a few minutes first.  

I love how Donalyn talks about having reading emergencies.  I hate it when I end up sitting somewhere idle for even five minutes and I don't have a book with me to read.  And does anyone else get annoyed that almost every waiting room now has a tv on, interrupting what to me is a sacred reading space?  

I started some things in my classroom this past year after being inspired by The Book Whisperer.  I started Mrs. Rye's Recommended Reads, a part of my library where I display books that I love.  Each week I would add one book to the section.

I talked about this in my post Spark Student Motivation to Read, and you can check it out here.  I also made reading the only free time option, trying to capture all those minutes throughout the day.  Back when I got my masters in reading (over twenty years ago when I was a newbie) I did my final project on how many minutes students actually spend reading during reading class.  I was team teaching at the time and my teammate did the reading instruction while I was in a supporting role.  I secretly recorded how many minutes the students actually spent reading.  It was a shockingly low number!  But that was back in the day of a basal reader where you spent five days on one story.  It made me want to pull my hair out by the third day and changed the way I taught reading ever since.  

There is one part of chapter 1 that I struggle with, the status of the class.  I have done it before and felt like it was a waste of precious time.  Maybe I'm not doing it right, I don't know.  But I would love to hear what you guys think about this.  Do you do it?  Is it useful?

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