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

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller
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's review
Apr 18, 2011

it was amazing
Read in March, 2011

Donalyn Miller is a 6th grade Language Arts teacher who advocates an unconventional approach to teaching in her book, The Book Whisperer. An avid reader herself, Miller shares practical ideas for awakening the inner reader in her students and ultimately developing life-long readers. Miller began her teaching career by following the traditional approach to teaching reading skills, which included developing units around a novel the entire class would read and then following through with comprehension worksheets and book reports. She quickly learned this approach was not encouraging students to be independent readers. Now Miller begins the school year by surveying the interests of students and then making personal book recommendations. Students are given time to read daily, a wide selection of books, and are allowed to control most of their own decisions about reading choices. Students frequently share book recommendations with each other, and reading becomes contagious. Students are expected to read a minimum of 40 books during the school year, and most reach this goal! Miller's tactics have resulted in improved reading skills, above average scores on standardized tests, and, most importantly, a genuine love of reading. The Book Whisperer contains several resources, including reading lists and questionnaires, that will be helpful to readers.
This book is an excellent resource for teachers, school librarians, and parents. Anyone who is interested in developing independent readers will appreciate Miller's practical approach to teaching reading. The primary strength of the book is the fact that Miller's approach works. Her students consistently surpass their reading goals and continue to come to her for reading recommendations long after the school year is over. Miller acknowledges that she is fortunate to have a principal that supports her unconventional teaching approach. While all teachers may not have this administrative support, they will still be able to use many of the ideas and resources provided in this book. It would be interesting to know if Miller had any ideas to share with readers about convincing campus administrators to support this teaching approach. The Book Whisperer is a must read for classroom teachers and school librarians and should be included in the professional collection of school libraries. For more information on this topic, look for the book, Readicide by Kelly Gallagher.


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