Friday, July 1, 2011

Reading Freedom

The assignment on The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller is to read Chapter 2, which I just did. But while reading about her suggestions for allowing her students to choose what they want to read, based on their interests as long as they are reading, and reading often, I was reminded of something she said in Chapter 1. She talked about how during free reading time she would also read a book of her choice! Her students had the opportunity to see her reading because she enjoyed it. And that is contagious!

After finishing Chapter 2, I immediately went to my office and took my proposed hand-written daily schedule for next year and revised it. I want Dawson, Brynne and I to have a thirty minute time of personal reading, that we do all at the same time. During that time we will each sit in the living room together and read, whatever book we want to read. Why shouldn't I get to read what I want during this time, as well? And why shouldn't the kids see me reading? I usually do my reading when they are occupied doing something else. But for them to see that I am so passionate about reading, that I would even schedule my own time into our day, is invaluable!

The quote that jumped out at me from Chapter 2 was: "No matter how much instruction students receive in how to decode vocabulary, improve comprehension, or increase fluency, if they seldom apply what they have learned in the context of real reading experiences, they will fail to improve as much as they could."

She said that "students in remedial settings read roughly 75 percent less than their peers in regular reading classes."

(I'm getting the feeling that Ms. Miller's view is that if you want kids to be good readers, then they should be reading.)

I've seen both of these things in regard to Eli's reading at school. He has struggles with reading, but he can tell you every single coding rule there is. But because he has spent so much time "mastering" the rules, he hasn't been reading and applying those principles. His classmates were required to read these little timed sheets at home, to be returned when they had read them in under 2 minutes. Eli was never made to do them. So, he didn't. I think he was babied along because reading was a struggle and took so much time to do it with him, time the teacher didn't have.

Being home with him this summer and reading every single day has shown marked improvement, and his interest in reading has increased dramatically! But I am able to work with him one-on-one every day. I can see how having a classroom of 20 students would make it impossible to put in the time with that one student who needs that time.

Kids just need to read. And we just have to find the way and the time to make it happen.

Interest-based reading seems to be the place to start. Eli loves science. So, I am going to do a search for science books at his level. He will enjoy them. Then I will pass this information on to his librarian and teacher next year so they can help him choose books that interest him.

In regard to Dawson and Brynne, we're just going to figure out what they like to read, check out those books and read.

Ms. Miller said, "Choosing not to read is never discussed. It is simply not an option. I must believe that my students are readers -- or will be readers -- so that they can believe it. The idea that they can't read or don't like to read is not on the table."

This is what I have heard out of my older two kids ... I don't like to read. This is no longer an option. During free reading time, you can have the freedom to read what you want .. but you will read.


  1. I love to read! My oldest for whatever reason, is not a big reader. My Bear is a voracious reader like I am. So far, my learning to read reader loves books and I hope it stays that way :)

    I am adding this book to my wishlist.

  2. That's what we do here. AND I had to let go of the idea of "grade appropriate" books for a while. At first, it bothered me that Bradley was 5th grade and read The Magic Tree House series because I wanted him doing heavier reading; however, when I backed off, his love of reading flourished through that series and he has since gone on to bigger and better things.

    Happy Reading! And have a safe weekend back home.


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