I feel like I can call her Donalyn, because I feel like I know her just from reading her books. I haven't been so excited for a package from Amazon since the last Game of Thrones came out on DVD! :)
I am not even exaggerating when I say the Book Whisperer changed me as a reader. I think I've told this story before, but I'm going to bore you with it again. :) I loved reading as a child and as a teen. My mom read us daily-- the Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe series/Beverly Cleary/Judy Blume. We made frequent trips to the public library-my sister and I both learned to read before we were 3. As a teen I remember reading while sitting outside my homeroom before school started and through study hall. There are books that I have read with characters that still haunt me today. As I got older and I think having to read more for work, reading just wasn't fun for me anymore. A confession: I went several years after college without reading any books at all. *gasp*
In the Book Whisperer, Donalyn's passion for reading was truly palpable--I was a bit jealous of that. Maybe I was missing out on something. So I would challenge myself to read a book in a week or read 5 books over the summer (I'm actually a pretty slow reader so that was a challenge for me). I would even listen to them in my car (which I know some people don't count, but I count it-listening to the Book Thief in a German accent was better than I ever could have done in my head!). This past summer I almost made it to 10 books! I carry a book in my bag now at all times- waiting rooms, jury duty-it's always there if I have some extra time. My puppy loves to sit in the front yard and just watch the world go by, I will take my book out there and read while she does so (my neighbors probably mistakenly think I'm actually a very literate person). I'm on Goodreads now and even post on Facebook when I have a good title to share. I have tried for the past several years at my school to get a book club going (to no avail)---but I feel like I'm part of a reading community again!
We had training this summer where we heard lots of statistics, but the one that stuck out most to me was that out of the teens they surveyed, only 30% read for enjoyment! I find that so sad. So this book was a good read for me, addressing how we can fix that. A couple of things that Donalyn points out that I completely agree with. Kids are learning to love reading "in spite" of schools. All those reading logs and reading passages-are we truly instilling a passion for reading in our kids that way? We recently adopted AR and I'm having a hard time encouraging their competitive spirit to get points and preventing them from getting burnt out. I don't like the idea of how they roll their eyes when they read a book and it's not on AR-I read this for nothing! Um, did you like the book? Yes. Well, then it wasn't for nothing. Some will page through a book and go take the quiz without really reading it. I found some ideas in this book to help me fix that.
I'm going to have the kids share more about the books they read, make commercials for books, give them time in class to make recommendations to their friends-discussing books is half the fun of reading. I also now have a new way for my book club kids to track what they read-that was always a very difficult thing for me.
One thing she advocates is reading aloud to your students-- which if you read my blog at all, you know I'm a huge proponent of that myself. I read chapter books to my kiddos and sometimes we get so invested in characters it's actually hard to say good-bye to them. She gives good advice about choosing the books you read to your kiddos. She had good suggestions for how to model even your thinking when choosing a book and deciding to abandon it if need be (I loved the anecdotes she had from her students). My kiddos are just starting to self-select when they go to the library (do you know how many copies of books about wrestlers we have in our library book basket right now? :) I think I've always taken it for granted, that other than telling them to look at the reading level-I never really taught them about how to go about choosing a book for themselves. Making sure they understand how to make time to read. And giving students time to read independently, which I have been doing more of ever since I read her first book.
We took advantage of the still spring-like weather at the beginning of the week:
Overall, I definitely think the advice is skewed more to middle/high school teachers and I did like the first book better-- but I was definitely inspired again with some new ideas to try so I think it's worth reading, especially if you liked the Book Whisperer.