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Whisper: Reading Notebooks

Well, the more I read The Book Whisperer the more I know in my heart that reading should be more of a focus for us this year! Homeschooling has brought back out the inner reader in me. And I want my kids to have the passion for reading that I have.

I had planned to make writing an emphasis this year, especially for Dawson, and purchased the IEW (Institute of Excellence in Writing) U.S. History Supplement. It. is. intense. Or at least it is in addition to the extremely full American History curriculum I have put together. I was already worried about Dawson's ability to keep up with it.

After I read Chapter 4 of The Book Whisperer, and Donalyn Miller's discussion about the Reading Notebook and reading requirements, I was feeling stressed about how to add in these great reading items into our already tight schedule.

So I really spent some time thinking about what I thought was important for the kids this year, primarily Dawson. And I just felt that reading is that important to make it the greatest priority. Writing could come from reading, especially with the Reading Notebook and the Response Entries.

So, this is what I decided to do. And I feel really good about it.

We will still do the IEW lessons. But instead of doing about one every day or two (which was really going to be impossible anyway!), Dawson will be assigned one IEW writing assignment each Monday to be completed by Friday. The downside is that we won't be doing the writing lessons that go with the current era we are studying, but at least we will have already studied the appropriate era when we get to that writing lesson.

And in exchange, we will go full throttle on reading and will diligently work in the Reading Notebook. Each Friday Dawson will write me a Response Entry about what he is currently reading and I will write him a response over the weekend to receive back on Monday.

I revised the Genre Requirements down to 20, instead of 40 for Dawson (Brynne's will still be 40, however, I know she will read more than that in a year). I prepared the Reading Notebook the same way suggested by Ms. Miller in Chapter 4, but instead of using composition notebooks I used three-ringed binders and tabbed dividers. Brynne will not do a notebook yet. She will, instead, do a lot of narration. Once she gets to a point where she is reading chapter books, we will start using Notebooks.

I know that this will be an adjustment for Dawson. But perhaps the trade off of not having to be so stressed about completing the IEW assignments will make it easier.

I am just feeling so inspired! Anyone else reading the book feeling the same?


  1. Good plan. You might also have Brynne "Sketch to Stretch" sometimes, too. She can do this along with narration. My students love Sketch to Stretch!


  2. I've really liked your posts about the Book Whisperer. I've been struggling with what to do about reading this year, for both my kids. Now I have a copy of this book on order, and I think I'll plan our reading around it!

  3. can you please tell me more about the reading notebook and its contents? i'm very interested!


    kate n.

  4. This looks great. I think I'm going to have to look in the Book Whisperer!


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