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

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller
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's review
Aug 08, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: teaching, books-on-reading
Recommended to Amy by: National Writing Project
Recommended for: English Teachers
Read in August, 2011

“It is the culture of teacher-centered instruction and standardized testing hysteria. The culture makes me question myself, and I know that is the reason why many teachers resist altering their practice (p.169).”

I remember last year how torn I was in teaching the mandated curriculum and then thinking of ways to teach the curriculum I wanted at the same time. I knew that in the end the MCAS scores did not matter, especially with my school slated to close at the end of the year anyway. Still, I worried about having my students engage in Silent Sustained Reading throughout the week because I needed to go over open response writing and whatever book I was required to teach. But honestly, the best thing I did last year was read alouds in September, book reviews every Friday, book club recommendations, after school Graphic Novel Club, and silent sustained reading on Mondays and Fridays. My kids loved to read on those days!! And they actually read! I spent some time building up my classroom library and everyone was able to find something they enjoyed. I only wish now I incorporated more independent choice time because that was when my class was really alive. Instead, I kept it to 2 days making it not as important as the mandated whole class novels and MCAS. So its no surprise that students were like, "Miss, you READ during the Summer??" at the end of the year.

Now I'm going to teach in a new school district that totally embraces independent reading! When I found out that there is no mandated curriculum I was both excited and nervous, mostly nervous. I read this book to help settle my nerves. Everything about independent reading I believe in and in fact my teacher prep. programs like Boston Teacher Residency, introduced me to the concept of reading workshop. In fact the 4 books she mentions as inspiring her work are books that I already own due to BTR. But I never actually got to practice reading workshop making me doubt if it could truly work.

Donalyn Miller is so passionate about reading and teaching, you can't help but hope again. I found that reading this book felt like having a conversation over beers with a colleague you trust. You get each other. You know what teaching is all about. You're there to encourage each other that you can keep doing this.

I'm excited that I can try independent reading next year every school day. However, I do wonder how I would feel if I was still teaching in Boston. She does offer ways to meet district requirements while meeting student needs but still its hard to imagine the application and how principals would feel about it. Also, I wonder about the demographics in her classroom economically and socially and how that plays a part.

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message 1: by Lauralee (new) - added it

Lauralee Summer we started doing 10 minutes of independent reading at the beginning of every English class at CHS and I love it! I wrote my master's thesis on ind. reading so if you need resources, let me know!

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