Reading in the Wild


Reading in the Wild (paperback)

by Donalyn Miller

No AR Quiz (professional development book)


I was a little anxious about reading Reading in the Wild, because while I enjoyed much of The Book Whisperer, Miller’s tone bothered me a bit.  She seemed very condescending, like if you didn’t do it her way, you were doing it wrong.  Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised to find that she was a bit more humble.  Her goal for this book was to create life-long readers.  In the past, she’d blamed her former students’ teachers (after her) for not allowing the students to continue their reading goals, and that was why they fell out of love with reading.  However, she realized that there are specific things that we as teachers can do to create “wild readers” who will keep it up, regardless of future teachers.

While I did find this book a little repetitive, here are my key “ahas” based on the 5 chapters.  “Wild Readers…”

1. Dedicate time to read.  It is true that silent reading time is the first to go when you have other pressing matters, lessons, etc. to take care of.  Miller suggests the rule of thirds, which I will have to keep in mind:  split your class period into thirds and make 1/3 of that silent reading time.  That time also has to be on task, though.  She brings up ways (and observation forms) to make sure students ARE spending that time reading and not wasting time.  One thing I will definitely do is have my students log their reading times and locations for the first few weeks so we can identify patterns and hold them accountable, but I realize this won’t have to be done throughout the year.  I as a reader don’t write down my times and page numbers when I read.  I will also have the discussion about stealing time to read, like in the car, at appointments, etc.

2. Self-select reading material.  The ways to find materials to read is brought up, including websites like Goodreads and magazines with book reviews.  Students should be able to read what they want to read, as long as it is challenging them and not too far below their level.  One aha was using read alouds.  I like to read the first book in a series to get my students hooked, like The Bad Beginning from A Series of Unfortunate Events.  However, it hadn’t crossed my mind to read from a book of poetry, a website, or informational book.

3. Share books and reading with others.  I need to identify the experts in my class.  Some will be graphic novel experts, mythology experts, etc. and will be enthusiastic to share their knowledge.  I had a ton of avid (wild) readers who never talked about their books to other students.  What a shame I let that pass.  I will also do more book reviews and encourage some kind of public posting, either through Edmodo or our Haiku page.

4. Have reading plans.  I started having my students keep a “books I want to read” list, but I will go full force with that this year.  I have a pile of “to read” books in my house, but perhaps if I encourage that in my class, it will get kids more excited.  Readers look ahead to future reading plans.  I know I do.  If I apply the things I do as a reader, hopefully my students will also catch on.

5. Show preferences.  The graphic novel bit in this chapter was an eye opener.  Many students read graphic novels because they’re short and easy to read, but there are so many valuable things about graphic novels.  It encourages inferencing, increased knowledge of higher level vocabulary (due to illustrations), and it is motivating!  If I have students who are graphic novel-obsessed, I will try to make sure I find more to provide for my students.

This book has a HUGE index of forms, many of which are available via slideshare in case you don’t want to recreate them.  I, personally, recreated a few to fit my purposes better.  Plus I’m uptight and like things in my favorite fonts.

Book 7 of 10 (summer goal)


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