Monday, August 19, 2013

Reflections on The Book Whisperer

The Book Whisperer

Miller, D. The Book Whisperer. (2009). San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 

I am working my way through Donalyn Miller's book The Book Whisperer and loving it! I came to a heading titled "The Need for Reading Role Models: The Crux of the Reading Crisis." She cites some pretty startling statistics about the lack of avid readers in our society. For example, in a study of preservice teachers they found that "54.3 percent were unenthusiastic about reading, leaving little hope that these teachers would be able to inspire students to engage in an activity that they themselves did not enjoy" (Miller, 2009, p. 107). Well that makes perfect sense! How could I possibly teach someone to enjoy something that I did not enjoy myself? How would I inspire students to read avidly and widely if I did not demonstrate that in my own life and attitude?

Miller goes on to explain that there are two stances on reading: 1) efferent stance and 2) aesthetic stance. Efferent readers read to gather information and get answers. It is what she calls an "outside-to-inside way of reading" (108). On the other hand, aesthetic readers "see reading as an emotional and intellectual journey" (109). As a result, these teachers teach reading differently. 

I have seen such uninspired classrooms of students doing "round robin" reading where they sit in a circle and alternate reading a book page-by-page. But what does that accomplish? Is that inspiring children to read? Or just slowing them down? Are MOST activities, strategies, and skills we teach associated with reading just belaboring the text?

Miller also mentions that teacher read children's books on a regular basis so they can share that experience with their students. So I made a list of some of my favorite authors, books-to-read, books-to-reread (since Miller encourages her students to reread texts they enjoy), and suggested read-alouds. It is a work in progress, but I am excited to get started on some of these delightfully diverting novels. 

Some of Ms. Cantrell's favorite authors and good reads
  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
  • The Chronicles of Narnia  by C.S. Lewis
  • Ann Rinaldi
  • Ralph S. Mouse by Beverley Cleary
  • Holes by Louis Sachar
  • Jerry Spinelli
  1. Percy Jackson Series. It comes highly recommended by many students
  2. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
  3. My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen
  1. Ralph S. Mouse by Beverley Cleary
  2. The Boxcar Children
Possible Read-Alouds

  1. Guts by Gary Paulsen
  2. Knots in My Yo-Yo String by Jerry Spinelli
  3. Each Little Bird that Sings by Deborah Wiles
  4. The SOS Files by Betsy Byars
  5. The Word Eater by Mary Amato

Most of my reading is dedicated to professional development and student teaching. So I have a hefty stack of professional development, textbooks, and teacher guides on my bedside table. But this chapter has increased my motivation to read novels alongside my 3rd graders. 

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