Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Book Review

As you'll see in my last post, I recently read The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child. She promotes having students write book reviews. For my presentation today, I wrote a book review of the book! =)

This little blurb was inside a cute clip art pic of an open book with a little bird in the top left corner, kinda peering into the book, but that doesn't really transfer to the blog...

An Amazon.com reviewer writes of The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child, “In less than a week, I became a Book Whisperer, too.”

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child is a title that immediately piqued my interest. Donalyn Miller writes as if she is a real person, even telling the reader right off the bat, “I am not a reading researcher. I am not a reading policy expert. I do not have a PhD. What I am is a reading teacher.” Soon, I found out she is a reading teacher in Texas! Texas! I was thrilled to have a book in my hands written by a teacher that understands the high-stakes of our high-stakes testing. In my mind, she had instant credibility. She addressed her credibility immediately, “My source of credibility is that I am a teacher who inspires my students to read a lot and love reading long after they leave my class.”

Miller’s core belief is that children need to be able to choose what they read. How do you awaken the inner reader? You teach them to read for pleasure! A simple concept, but not one many teachers are putting into practice. Her requirement? Every child will read 40 books during the school year. Forty books! Some of her students don’t think that is possible, but she is vague when they ask what the consequences are for not meeting the goal because failure is not an option. If a child read 1 or 2 books last year and reads 26 books this year, then who cares if they don’t read 40? They increased their reading by 1200%!

Miller refers to every child as a reader and thinks we should change the lingo and better address each child’s needs. Instead of ‘struggling’ readers, they are developing readers. Dormant readers are those that will do what you tell them to do, flying under every teacher’s radar because you know they will pass the test. Underground readers are those who frustrate teachers. They are gifted readers that fail tests because “they see the reading they are asked to do in school as completely disconnected from the reading they prefer to do on their own.”

She outlines traditional practices in the classroom and then gives very do-able alternatives for that practice. Reading Logs? Chunk ‘em! Book Reports? No more! Round Robin Reading? It’s outta here! Buuuut, you’ll have to read her book to find out what the alternatives are!

I recommend this book for every 3rd-8th grade teacher. Not just the language arts teachers, but every teacher that works with children reading chapter books!

Donalyn Miller also writes a blog for www.teachermagazine.org Look for The Book Whisperer’s summer challenge of reading a book a day this summer!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Alyssa,

    Thank you for reviewing The Book Whisperer. I am glad that you found it meaningful. I learned a great deal about my own reading and teaching journey while writing it. I am still learning!