Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Reading in the Wild #cyberPD- Week 3

Thank you to our cyberPD hosts – Cathy MereLaura Komos, and Michelle Nero for hosting this year’s #CYBERPD.  I have enjoyed the opportunity to reread Reading in the Wild this summer and it has been fun to read all of the other participants’ posts. The wrap-up twitter chat will be on July 30th, 8pm EST.

Chapter 5-Wild Readers Show Preferences

After reading this chapter, I thought about my own reading preferences. What do I like to read? What do I enjoy?(I enjoy the latest kid lit, memoirs, mindless summer reading, and books on literacy to name a few.) It made me think...can my own students verbalize their reading preferences? Donalyn writes, "True preferences come from wide reading and lots of positive encounters with books." 
It is our job as teachers to make our student's encounters with books positive!
Don't make them read a book just because you have always taught this book for 15 years. Don't force books on kids, instead take time to find what they like and recommend books for them. 
I have helped turn many kids into voracious readers just by taking time to look for books for them.  I will say..."Jake, I ordered this book from Scholastic just for you...I really think you will love it...could you read it first and then I will have you tell the class all about it." They always look at me like..." You were thinking of me when you got that book and you got it for me to read???" We then start this relationship where I lead them in the direction of good books and before I know it they are choosing their own books and over time they become a wild reader! They just need to find and recognize their reading preferences...sometimes with a little guidance. This echoes what Donalyn writes, "Students' preferences provide a starting point for building positive reading relationships between us and our students." So find a reluctant reader or more this year and help shape their reading life! What a lasting impact on that child or children!!

My one struggle that I have in my classroom is the balance of reading graphic novels. Our library has a million of them(or so it seems!) and my students are pulled to them. I hate to tell students that they can't read a certain book, but I had this major struggle with graphic novels. I teach in a classroom of all gifted students and am responsible for their reading growth(amongst other areas as well!) I  had students only reading graphic  novels week after week, rereading Diary of a Wimpy Kid 4 and 5 times, and not stretching themselves as a reader. I realize that these books can be enjoyable to read, engaging, creative, and less overwhelming to read than a traditional novel or text but I felt that it was my job to push my students to read more challenging text. I ended up telling students that they could check out one graphic novel each week but they would have to read it at home. In class, we would be focusing on reading novels and nonfiction. Every once in awhile I would say, "Today during read to self you can read a graphic novel."  Some students would, some wouldn't. The parents were in support of this plan, because they were ready for their children to move away from the repeated readings and reliance on graphic novels. It is a delicate balance and something I still struggle with in my head. I also know that there are exceptions and sometimes I encourage students to read graphic novels or to read the matching graphic novel to the chapter book.(Maximum Ride series by James Patterson). As a teacher, you have to always be thinking about what is best for your students and how you can grow them as readers!

I love the statement in this chapter that states, "rereading books increases comprehension and enjoyment." (pg. 175) It was when I was young and reread The Boxcar Children multiple times that I started to notice books in depth. I could visualize the boxcar house, I could infer their feelings about living on their own, I asked myself questions about how they could possible live on their own, and I felt like I was such a part of the book that I had to step out of it when I was done reading. Students discover new things when they reread, they notice story structure, and it should never be forbidden to reread a book. When it becomes obvious that a student is not moving away from a book, then a conversation can take place. 

There were many other great points in this chapter that I will highlight below...
 •During these reading habits conferences, we gain deeper understanding of how each reader has grown and the wild reading habits each one still needs to develop. (pg. 183)
•Constantly looking for ways to bridge the divide between school reading and life reading, I changed the term "student" or "name" on every form to "reader" or "writer" as the task suited. (pg. 184)
•I do not obsess on a book-by-book basis about whether my students read books that match their reading levels at all times, but I do consider trends in reading choices. (pg. 185)
•Readers who have finished few books by certain points in the school year may reveal a lack of consistent engagement with what they read. (pg. 186)
•I have learned that the most avid readers often keep the worst records of their reading activities. (pg. 187)
•Conferring about their independent reading habits keeps my students and me focused on our long-term goals--internalizing wild reading behaviors and developing the self-reflection skills necessary to maintain lifelong reading. 

This books has so many nuggets of wisdom about developing wild readers. Let's go out there in a few short weeks and develop reading lives and build more wild readers!!! 


  1. Great suggestions! I also teach gifted students and would love to swap strategies sometime. Also love your characterization of a typical student response after you present them a book you ordered "just for them" - priceless!

    (Finally, and this is just me, but I have a really hard time reading the font you have for the first two-thirds of this post. It is very tiny and the full caps look of it makes it harder on the eyes. I had to zoom in on my laptop just to make it out. Just something to think about.)

    1. That would be great to chat about our gifted classrooms. As for the font...I know...sorry! I'm on vacation without wifi and trying to post from my phone. It's making it difficult. I'll fix the font default when I get home. :-)

  2. Megan,
    Knowing preferences was eye opening for me! I am so guilty of loving a book and then saying, "Here! Read this!" without even considering what a student likes or prefers! One of my goals this year! I also agree that students need to know their own preferences too -- be able to verbalize and explain. Not the vague descriptions, but specific titles and authors too!

    I think your experience with GN is similar across every classroom in America! It's the "cool" thing to read. Perhaps trying Donalyn's 40 book challenge will still allow the choice of reading GN, but also directing students to read other genres. And after some time GN won't be so novel and all books will be on the same playing field. Until then, I think you should celebrate your readers that are reading GN, even if it's the same book over and over! I think we have to remember how important choice and preferences are and then delicately provide additional books to ponder. We also have to remember, they are kids! They love that cheesy stuff! :)

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and joining in #cyberPD this summer! Your insights have been helpful and I look forward to how all these new wild reading ideas shape our classrooms in the fall!


  3. Megan,
    I enjoyed your story of sharing books with readers. It's fun to watch the faces of students when we've selected a book that is something we think they'll love. This often works at building excitement over reading for those who are a bit more hesitant, maybe need a "next book," or are working to find their place in the reading community.

    Thank you for sharing your struggle with graphic novels. I think we can all tell similar stories whether about graphic novels or other genres/preferences. For example, it sometimes happens in first grade that readers get stuck on Mo Willems. They read every one of his books, and then read them again. There's this point where I know they have to reach beyond these titles as Donalyn says, "I do not obsess on a book-by-book basis about whether my students read books that match their reading levels at all times, but I do consider trends in reading choices. (pg. 185)" This is when I like to open up conversation about balanced reading and growing our reading lives. What are the books we prefer? What are the books we should stretch ourselves into? Sometimes having students keep lists for a short time of the books they are reading and then being able to look concretely at their lists compared to peers can help them to begin to move toward new types of reading.

    I've found this book to be the perfect read as I begin to think about coming back to school in August. I love having an opportunity for a new start each year.