I am absolutely excited that I can revisit this fabulous book and blog about my thoughts before I start back into another school year! After blogging about Reading in the Wild last week, it just reaffirmed for me what an asset Donalyn Miller is to the literacy community!
Chapter 3- Wild Readers Share Books and Reading with Other Readers
How else can I start but to say I wholeheartedly agree with the line, "Children's future success depends on their acquisition of literacy skills." This line alone is why I do everything that I can as a teacher to hook my students on books. I want each and every one of my students to leave at the end of the year with either a love of reading or at least a greater appreciation for reading.
Donalyn Miller write about the importance of fostering a strong school and home reading community. She gives many suggestions for making this happen and all of them have value! I love the idea of adding a weekly student book recommendation to your email signature. I might just have to try that this year.
She also adds the importance of "carving out meaningful blocks of time for independent reading." She suggests at school and at home. I would much rather have my daughters reading for homework than answering "critical thinking questions" at the end of a story in a basal. (BTW-she hates when she has to do this for homework!)
I also LOVED the section on the Benefits of Reading Communities. Donalyn mentions that reading communities, "foster connections with other readers, increase how much readers read, challenge readers to stretch themselves, improve readers' enjoyment and appreciation of what they read, encourage new suggested titles for reading, and encourage mindfulness about what you read and share with others." When I implemented book clubs this year in my class and an after school book club the excitement level about reading skyrocketed even more than before! Students were reading with the intent to share certain parts, students were talking about books before book club even started, and they were encouraging others to read along with them or to read a certain book as soon as they had a chance. It is one thing that I will not stop doing in my classroom...book club has been such a positive experience for our classroom and has really encouraged discourse about books!
The other thing that I started this year that was in Donalyn Miller's book was a graffiti wall. I saw it being used in a 6th grade teacher's classroom and I loved to read it and see what the students were writing from their books. After observing this graffiti wall in use for a few months, I decided to make my own after winter break. I love the deep thinking around this bulletin board and I love how it adds to the reading community and contributes to our LOVE of reading! This board really gets the students to think about what the author is saying and to pay attention to their own reactions to the author's words. Metacognition at its finest!
Chapter 4- Wild Readers Have Reading Plans
Having a plan is always important. Especially for those of us with Type A personalities. :-) This chapter is all about having a READING PLAN. Readers need plans and setting reading goals can be a great first step in forming a plan. We use data binders to set goals about our reading. We make lists of books that we would like to read and reflect on our progress toward meeting these reading goals. I try to give students ideas on how they can keep lists of "next reads" if paper and pencil doesn't work out for them.
I love the section on conferring with readers and I love to read how other teachers conduct their reading conferences. I either learn new things or it reaffirms for me what I am already doing. I loved what Donalyn said about reading series books, "students who read series walk into each subsequent book with background knowledge from previous installments...their comprehension improves, which increases their confidence and reading enjoyment." I found this to be key many times throughout the school year for hooking a student into books. If I could find a series that they loved and that they could continue with success, it motivated them and provided a lot of confidence for reading future books and putting them on the path to a love of reading.
I also really focused on launching summer reading after reading this book this year. She gave lots of great ideas for launching summer reading. I decided to host a book swap this year, have students complete book talks about books to inspire summer reading, make a list of summer reads, and track their books so that I could monitor their progress this summer.
Once again, Donalyn Miller packs a lot of valuable information into these 2 chapters and a lot can be learned from reading her book and even rereading her book!