Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Humble Opinion of The Book Whisperer

After seeing many, many recommendations, I finally finished the book The Book Whisperer. Reading and I have had a very fractured relationship over the years. I started reading at 2 1/2 and put most of the credit for that on a combination of watching Sesame Street twice a day ( they played the same episode morning and afternoon but I'm told I would cry if I couldn't watch it both times :) -and the fact that my mother was an avid reader and read many whole series of books to us when we were little. I can remember the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as well as many Beverly Cleary stories.

I read incessantly growing up. I was one of those kids who always had their nose in a book-on the bus, in the hallway before school started, study hall. I devoured summer reading lists and would read easily read 100 books in a summer to enter some school competition. I can still remember a 7th Grade teacher upset that I was reading Carrie by Stephen King. "Does your mother know you're reading that?" she asked one day. "She's the one who gave it to me." My father in particular would often check out Stephen King books for me, because he was one of my favorite authors. He actually just gave me one of his newer books for Christmas this past year. So I was definitely encouraged at home and discussions often drifted over to literary themes.

After college, that love of reading dwindled a bit. And when I started teaching, it practically faded away altogether. I read so much daily for work, it's much more relaxing for me to settle in and watch a movie than to read a book. Maybe it's getting older, but it takes me longer to finish a book these days-even the good ones. I did start listening to them in car though and have finished several books in a few months that way (very surprised by how much I loved the Hunger Games, right now it's Peace Like a River-a novel I have started about 12 times in the past few years). Better than all those commercials on the radio anyway.

Ms. Miller inspired me as a reader with her book. Her passion for stories is so contagious-I loved reading about her feelings about literacy and it allowed me to really reflect on mine. I am making a conscious effort to read more myself. My beloved puppy's favorite thing to do in the world is sit in the front lawn and watch the world go by. I have a bench out there and will often brave the Texas heat and just bring a book or a magazine out and read for awhile in the evenings. Right now I just started A Thousand Gifts, which might be the most poetic prose I have ever read. I'm sure my neighbors have been sufficiently deceived into thinking I'm a very literate person-always out there with a book, but the truth is I have volumes of stories in my to-be-read pile and on my Amazon wishlist.

As it pertains to the classroom-the main gist is of her book is to give the kids time to read independently. Let them choose what to read. I will definitely try to implement this more as well-but I think a little tougher in the lower grades where they are just emerging with their reading skills. I always chuckle to look over in the library and see a kiddo very engrossed in a tale turning the pages one by one, not even noticing the book is upside-down! But believe it's definitely important to lay a foundation of passion for not only stories and characters but for words themselves. I am always talking about how a word is one of my favorite words and was struck by a student's question this year "Miss Trayers are there words you don't like?" I had to think about that one.

Kids of all ages should be having conversations about stories-what they like/don't like, what they think about a character's actions. Miller also points out it's important to let kids know they don't have to like every book they are required to read. I run a book club for older kids at my school and hear their gasps every year when I say how I didn't like one of the books from our list. It's ok not to like a book! How many conversations I've heard and Facebook posts I've read from people who started reading a story and couldn't get into it. People can have different opinions, that is allowed!

I did like this book. I was inspired by this book. I do think the specific ideas pertain more to upper grades-even middle/high school. But definitely included ideas that I think can help make more passionate readers, even out of ourselves!
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  1. I always wonder how teachers do reader's workshop in the lower grades--but somehow they are able to accomplish it! Thank you for your well-written dialogue on the book. I will have to put that on my amazon wish list!

  2. Thanks for linking up on my More Teaching Blogs page. I'm glad I found you.

    The Teaching Thief

  3. Love this book. Also currently reading One Thousand Gifts. Couldn't agree more-she is a talented writer.

    I love your blog. Last year I read Edward Tulane to my K class. They are not identified gifted, just the highest in the grade level. Shared your multiple perspectives act. Great results! Thank you! I read your blog often and found you through Byrdseed. Keep up the great work!

    Is your blog feed linked to facebook?

  4. Miss Howiler-thank you so much! It means a lot to me that anyone even reads the blog, much less can actually find something useful! :) Edward Tulane is one of my faves-I liked it more than my kids did this year! Glad it worked out for your kiddos.

    I'm not linked to FB right now-working on several upgrades for the blog this summer-hopefully by the end of next month. Thanks so much for your feedback!

  5. It's funny how shocked the kids are when we admit we don't like a book. I can't stand Skippyjon Jones. When I told them that after I read it, mouths dropped open.

    I have a similar reading background as you except instead of being caught reading Carrie by a 7th grade teacher my book was some bodice ripping romance novel. Haha!

    Strive to Sparkle