Andrew's Reviews > The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller
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Jul 07, 10

Read in July, 2010

This is a book I wish I could rate a couple of different ways. Because in some ways it is a 5 star book, and others it deserves a 2. Let me explain.

First why is it so great? I would highly suggest this for any reading/English teacher in America. There is nothing really complex about this book, but it certainly proposes a culture shift in reading education. The basic premise is that the way we are teaching reading is actually what is destroying the love of reading in America. Americans are reading less and less all the time and it is this teacher/author's contention that we need to just let kids read instead of creating all the complex reading programs that we have in education.

Miller requires her 6th graders to read 40 books during the school year! Not really surprising, many students meet this goal and exceed it and a byproduct of the students reading so much is their reading scores on the Texas state assessment actually improves. None of her students have failed the state assessment in four years and an average of 85% of her students score in the 90th percentile. There is no disputing she is doing something right.

Why not so great? Ms. Miller has a bit of a God complex and it's not well placed at times. She is highly critical of everything we do in reading education. At times she writes as if she has all the answers to reading education and we should just follow her lead. Which leads us to a second criticism. At times you really don't understand how her classroom functions. We know she incorporates a lot of reading and time for her students to read, but we never get a solid picture of what her reading instruction looks like. Finally, her last chapter in this book is just total crap. She spends precious pages criticizing her fellow teachers in her district and really doing nothing to promote a collegial atmosphere. It seems that many teachers ruin all her hard work and she tells us how she gets severely distraught over this issue as well. This chapter just doesn't fit. She could have spent more time helping us to better understand her classroom. Because believe me, she gets your attention.

The bottom line is this book really makes you think about the value of reading and really brings out the inner reader within you as a teacher.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Kristen Thank you! After reading this book I kept thinking - so kids read, but what are you explicitly teaching?!


Jennifer Barstow-Malinowski I thought the book lacked the entire picture of the classroom as well. How is she using student choice books to teach the things we need to teach. I really enjoyed the book but thinks it needs a follow up...


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