I’ve completed my first book for my 2012 reading challenge, and it is a book about…. BOOKS! LOL. I decided to pick this one up after I saw it recommended on a message board, and I really enjoyed reading it.
The Book Whisperer is described on the back cover as “…a primer of the heart on how to make reading magical again”, and I think that is a very accurate description. The author, Donalyn Miller, is a 6th grade language arts and social studies teacher. Through much research, she’s devised a program for her students that empowers them in their reading choices and increases their reading and writing skills at the same time.
The main point that is driven home throughout this book is that students should be able to pick their own reading material (with guidelines for the number of books read in each genre) and that school time should include significant blocks where kids read rather than complete busywork.
One of the things that I really like about this book is that she almost perfectly describes the way that we homeschool. I check out large amounts of books that relate to the units that we do in our other subjects, and let my kids free read from all of the different genres. I try to keep the shelves stocked with library books that I think my kids will like, and they also pick out a large number of books for themselves. I had no idea that I was so cutting-edge, hehe.
Obviously there are parts of this book that are not applicable to homeschooling parents (after all, we are not the target audience), but I still really enjoyed the book. I have placed several of her book suggestions on hold, including The Tarantula in My Purse: and 172 Other Wild Pets (which I think it will be an awesome read-aloud!) I also love Miller’s description of a reading journal where the student and teacher write back and forth in a conversational style about the books that they’ve read. I think it can easily be tweaked for homeschooling, and I’ve been wanting to start a journal with my kids anyways. It reminds me of the notebooks that my friends and I had when we were in middle and high school.
One of the other important lessons that I’ll take from this book is that there is great value in reading children’s literature as an adult. I belonged to a children’s lit bookclub, but I haven’t read with them in several years. She shows how a knowledge of children’s books will enable you to give better recommendations for your students. Thanks to her inspiration, I’ve picked up a few children’s books for myself. I really want to join the #nerdbery and #nerdcott challenges now. We have several of these books on our shelves, so I went ahead and read one of the #nerdcott books today.
If you’ve read this book or decide to read it in the future, I’d love to hear your opinion.