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The Reading Zone: How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical Readers

4.32  ·  Rating Details ·  1,398 Ratings  ·  185 Reviews
Long an advocate of frequent, voluminous reading in schools, the author draws on evidence gathered in twenty years of classroom teaching to make the case for reading workshop more powerful than ever. The book establishes the top ten conditions for making engaged classroom reading possible for students at all levels and provides the practical support and structures necessar ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published January 1st 2007 by Scholastic Teaching Resources (Teaching
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The Book Whisperer by Donalyn MillerThe First Days Of School by Harry K. WongPedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo FreireSavage Inequalities by Jonathan KozolEducating Esmé by Esmé Raji Codell
books for teachers, educators
25th out of 505 books — 475 voters
Diary of a Freedom Writer by Darrius GarrettTeaching Adolescent Writers by Kelly GallagherTeaching for Joy and Justice by Linda ChristensenThe Reading Zone by Nancie AtwellReading, Writing, and Rising Up by Linda Christensen
Best Books for English Teachers
4th out of 121 books — 36 voters


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Community Reviews

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Barbara
Sep 02, 2016 Barbara rated it it was amazing
This is a book that describes how to create passionate readers. The focus in on students around middle school age. One section that I liked was the chapter specifically looked at boys. It provides an indepth look at one boy who many would not imagine could be passionate about reading. Cam comes from a working class family. He's an athlete, and loves dirt biking and racing. The author, his teacher, finds books that Cam loves and over time he becomes an avid reader and writer. Atwell dismisses a l ...more
Betony
Feb 20, 2008 Betony rated it it was amazing
This book made me want to cry because it gave me permission to be the kind of reading teacher I want to be, the kind who helps kids find books that they will love so that they will grow to be reader! I tried this approach with my reluctant, below grade level readers this year, and I am thrilled to say that a majority who have hated reading all their lives now get upset with me when they don't have a chance to read. I've worked my hiney off to find books that they'll love, but it is so worth it! ...more
Lars Guthrie
Feb 07, 2010 Lars Guthrie rated it really liked it
'The Reading Zone' sets itself up as a manifesto. The answer to its subtitle, 'How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical Readers,' could be neatly summed up with one word: 'choice.'

Following a quick tour of her hushed classroom—'nineteen students…reading nineteen books'—Nancie Atwell makes the declaration of principle that is this brief but powerful work’s raison d’etre: 'The only surefire way to induce a love of books is to invite students to select their own.'

Furthermore
...more
Lisa
Jul 14, 2008 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: reading/writing teachers, librarians
I had the great pleasure of having to read this book for one of my graduate classes at NYU, and it has since become somewhat of a Bible for me to which I still constantly refer (the creases in the cover prove it!)

It is an absolute must read for English teachers, Reading teachers,librarians (particularly those of the YA variety), or anyone interested in discovering how to reach the mind of the adolescent reader, providing ideas, templates, and a complete breakdown of how Atwell, a true master, or
...more
Deb
Aug 18, 2008 Deb rated it it was amazing
I wish all curriculum coordinators and administrators would read this book! I want to go to her school and teach there! She advocates for frequent "voluminous" reading with students choosing their own books and reading at their own pace. This is how I want to teach reading, but find it difficult due to time constraints and administrator constraints!! I think what she says makes perfect sense --- you become a better reader by reading, just like you become a better basketball player by playing bas ...more
Michael
Apr 30, 2013 Michael rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, education
Where to begin? In 2007, the economy of the United States crashed, beginning what is now commonly called "The Great Recession." In 2008, the federal government borrowed hundreds of billions of dollars as a part of the "Investment and Recovery Act," or something like that (it's ususally called 'the Stimulus'). Many of these billions of dollars were then put on a baited hook known as "Race to the Top," (RTTT) which is a menu of Washington-approved educational reforms that states could adopt if the ...more
Patrick
Oct 08, 2008 Patrick rated it really liked it
It is important to note that this is an academic book and my rating is based in that line of thinking. The Reading Zone is a great book that addresses the way kids actually learn to read, identify, and think abstractly. Continual testing and and analytical approaches to reading do help kids, but what they really need to do, in the opinion of the author, is get large chunks of time to read what they want, where they want, and have a teacher on hand to follow their progress give them help with wor ...more
Tena
Oct 25, 2011 Tena rated it really liked it
Shelves: professional, pln
Thank you, Nancie Atwell, for recharging my batteries. This book had a lot of philosophical similarities to Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer, but it had enough differences to make it interesting... can't wait to discuss it w/ my PD group. What it comes down to is this: if your reading instruction isn't creating lifelong passionate readers, it's not worth much.

The part I find the hardest is that I'm expected to have grades in the gradebook, and it's not always easy to translate this philosoph
...more
Justin
Dec 03, 2007 Justin rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: teachers/parents
Shelves: for-school
It's sad that this book seems revolutionary. Her premise: children become better readers if they're allowed the time to read books they enjoy. Reading is a pleasurable act and students should be introduced to the wonderful feeling of entering the "reading zone." Brilliantly obvious, and yet missing from our schools.
Shane
Dec 23, 2012 Shane rated it liked it
The focus of this book is on allowing students plenty of choice in their reading and promoting time for this reading in the elementary and English classroom so that students get "into a zone of reading" in which they are deeply engaged with their books. Her exposition explains why it is okay to have students reading all sorts of different texts, and it helps as a defense for teachers who worry that their courses aren't rigorous enough if there aren't constant comprehension tests or book reports. ...more
Terry
Jun 11, 2009 Terry rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teaching-english
This is a fine, fine book that works on its own or as a compliment to all of her earlier work. What to add to the previous review? I, too, found Atwell's challenge to teachers at the high school level - and by extension, their parents - to be especially powerful. Students are so loaded with vocabulary words and double-entry journals and literary minutia and book reports that they avoid reading anything beyond assigned materials, and too often learn to abhor all that falls under the `English' umb ...more
Tracy Tucker
Nov 27, 2012 Tracy Tucker rated it really liked it
I really liked Ms. Atwell's style of writing and found this to be a very user-friendly book. I shared this with my sixth grade class as I was reading, and they were thrilled to hear that Atwell is not a fan of sticky notes :). I have most definitely changed my view of teaching reading...I have always provided silent reading time for students, but I am rather embarrassed to say I had not (to this point) allowed them to reread books. This I will change, among other facets of my reading program.

I
...more
Bethe
Jan 30, 2013 Bethe rated it liked it
Shelves: professional
I agree wholeheartedly with the basic premise of reading workshop: kids need dedicated time to read and to talk about reading with their peers during the school day and a teacher who knows their book interests and can get them into the reading zone without the distractions of "reading comprehension strategies". It is preaching to the choir, almost makes me want to leave the library for the reading classroom. However, I have a few concerns about this book. The author is working in the safety of a ...more
Claudia
Jun 20, 2009 Claudia rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: English teachers
I can remember reading IN THE MIDDLE by Nancie Atwell, thinking, "Well, all this reading workshop would work in HER school, an exclusive private school, but in the REAL world, this would never fly." Then I started my Reading for Pleasure class...then the class evolved, and then I read Atwell again. Oops! I'm teaching reading workshop. The biggest difference, tho, is my class is an elective, not THE English class.

So, I approached this new book with interest and curiousity. Would I find myself in
...more
Heather
Sep 29, 2012 Heather rated it it was amazing
This book inspired me. I think it's the best book I've read on reading so far because it encouraged me to keep on doing what I do, and realize that reading really DOES make a difference. I love it when the my reading students are "in the zone." I've seen many kids pretend to read, pose as readers, move their eyes on the page like readers do, but when they're actually fully engaged in a text that they connect with and are interested in, it's a beautiful sight to behold. It doesn't happen everyday ...more
Shannon Clark
Jul 20, 2013 Shannon Clark rated it it was amazing
Shelves: not-reviewed-yet
This was one of those PD books written like a narrative that just flowed and flowed like a smooth running river. :)

It's all about having a reading workshop WITHOUT the STUFF that we sometimes feel we need to include. She actually debunked the use of comprehension strategies with fiction because she said it takes them out of the zone.

Choice, Book talks, literary essays, and more choice-these were the main themes.

It really focused on just letting the kids read EVERYDAY to be immersed in their rea
...more
Diana Zurawski
Jun 25, 2016 Diana Zurawski rated it it was amazing
This is such a wonderfully validating book. Giving students choice and time to read are the cornerstones of quality literacy instruction and anyone who tries to tell me anything different will have this book handed to them!
Julie Suzanne
While I have a hard time believing the truth of Atwell's claims, I find hope in believing in her methods. Supposedly she is successful at getting middle school students to become voracious, "voluminous readers" and she describes average 8th graders in the "reading zone" devouring Slaughterhouse Five, for example. She's anti "Strategies that Work" (the method of reading instruction that requires post-its all over text with connections, predictions, questions, etc.) as the killer of potential read ...more
Virginia
Jul 06, 2014 Virginia rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Elementary and M.S. ELA teachers
Nancie Atwell's book,In the Middle, was one that I read early in my teaching career, and it convinced me of the importance of the workshop model in language arts instruction. Still, it seemed to me to address writing more than reading (maybe that was the influence of the professors and instructors I had when I was reading it). Fast-forward over 15 years and I was browsing the "educational" section of a Barnes and Noble store when my hand fell onto this amazingly thin book! (For an educator who n ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Mar 16, 2016 Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reading
I loved this book. I want someone to finance a trip for me to Maine to visit Atwell and see her ideas in action.

Atwell believes all readers need to become good at reading is good books and time to read. A simple idea, but one that is backed up by research.

I want to push this book into the hands of every teacher I know, especially junior high and high school teachers. I want to give it to administrators and to politicians. I want to talk to parents about it. I want to try it. I think I can.
Kimberly Montague
Mar 14, 2011 Kimberly Montague rated it it was amazing
Yes, this method of teaching reading has been around a while, but this book completely excited me, and I'm dying to try this next year with my middle school students. Excellent questions brought up about what we're doing to our kids in terms of killing their love of reading and the true benefits of teaching one text that doesn't speak to our groups of reluctant readers. I highly recommend this book to all middle and high school English teachers.
Krista
Aug 24, 2012 Krista rated it really liked it
Interesting approach to reading education--fantastic ideas. One thing that leaves me troubled is the focus on a final grade determination based in part on effort. All the effort in the world does not constitute a grade earned (in my opinion). What can the student do? What can the student show he/she is capable of. Effort will help get you there, but it should not figure into the grading process of what a student knows at the end of a term.
Austin Hall
Jun 10, 2015 Austin Hall rated it it was amazing
I devoured this magnificent book on teaching reading in one day. As I am going to be teaching a new high school English class next year centered on independent choice reading and reading workshop, this was the first "PD" book from my summer stack that I picked up. I have known of Nancie Atwell's work for years, but I had never actually read any of her books. I now know what I've been missing. This easily readable book provides a glimpse into Atwell's own reading workshops and offers countless in ...more
Kyla
May 06, 2014 Kyla rated it really liked it
I am having a hard time between rating the book a 3 or a 4. I went with a 4 because the concept behind Nancie's text is the exact motivation I need to continue teaching reading passionately. Although I respectfully disagreed with a couple of her viewpoints, (mainly teaching skills through text, having discussions about books at given stopping points, and using sticky notes)the last 2 pages (the appendix) really opened my eyes to how much our end goals are similar. #5 on How to Create a National ...more
Tori
Feb 15, 2014 Tori added it
2014- I couldn't help thinking, as I read this book, how much I would like to set apart more time for pleasure reading in my class. However, I then checked the copyright and saw this book was published in 2007. So basically, it was written long before Common Core Standards and curriculum were being pushed to the forefront, at the expense of everything else. While I'd like to model my classroom like Atwell's, the truth is I can't, because of all the other Common Core aligned curriculum I have to ...more
Sean
Jul 05, 2016 Sean rated it it was amazing
I read this book last September at the suggestion of a colleague, and have since completely rewritten the school-based curriculum to allow for a) more good books, b) reading time every day, and c) a means to measure my student's progress through discussion, reflection and association (read: NO BOOK REPORTS). Attwell holds the key to the success of our language arts educational systems based on such a simple premise- let kids read what they want, let them reject what they don't care for and foste ...more
Colby Sharp
Jul 30, 2011 Colby Sharp rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books about teaching reading of all time. If you like The Book Whisperer give The Reading Zone a try.
Kristin
Feb 28, 2015 Kristin rated it it was amazing
I found this book to be very refreshing and inspiring. As a believer in the Reader's Workshop model, I found Atwell's twenty year's of experience to be a great reminder of why this structure is best for kids. If you teach in a workshop model, this book will be a great review of the important components of this structure, as well as a handy guide in how to handle issues with time, assessment, and conferring. I came away with some wonderful tips and ideas to pass along to my teachers, as well as r ...more
Timilyn
Feb 01, 2011 Timilyn rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Timilyn by: Julie Gardner
Wow. My brain is full. I'll get back to you on a review.
Katie G
This book had some good suggestions for getting kids to appreciate reading. She spends most of the book talking about why having kids read books that they choose is so important. I wish that she had provided a bit more actual research instead of simply broad statements and anecdotal evidence, but she did a good job of convincing me why this sort of reading is so important.

Sadly, the book didn't really seem all that practical, at least not for high school teachers. I realize that her school is fo
...more
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“There is no more important homework than reading. Research shows that the highest achieving students are those who devote leisure time to reading, even when the school day and year are only mid-length and homework isn’t excessive. Recently, the largest-ever international study of reading found that the single most important predictor of academic success is the amount of time children spend reading books, more important even than economic or social status. And one of the few predictors of high achievement in math and science is the amount of time children devote to pleasure reading.” 7 likes
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