I am reading an enlightening book entitled The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. She teaches 6th grade and lets her students know, the very first day, that she expects them to read forty books. That is a lot of books and an unheard of goal so you’ll be surprised to find that most of the kids, year after year, attain that goal and more.
Donalyn says, “I never talk to them about the fact that many of them do not like to read, struggle with reading skills, or have not found reading personally meaningful. If I were to acknowledge that these excuses have merit, I would allow them to become reasons for my students not to read.”
I have often heard that students will meet the level of expectation.
Children enter her classroom in awe of the amount of books she has shelved and in bins. Then Ms. Miller begins talking about books. Someone remarks that they’ve read one of the books Ms. Miller just spoke of and the conversation gets exciting. Donalyn pulls out bins of great books for the kids to choose after hearing the other kids extoll the virtues of favorites they’ve read. The “book frenzy” is a kick off to a year of reading.
She does not assign formal book reports or tests, instead she focuses on discussion and excitement propelling the kids into a world of words for fun.
I love her style. Do all the students make the goal? No. The least read by any of her students was twenty-two books. What teacher or parent would be unhappy with that child?
We will cover more about her technique next week.