Book Whisperer - Chapter 2

The MOST powerful thing that jumped out at me in this chapter was the terms Miller uses to classify different types of readers in her classroom.  I am and have taught intensive literature classes at our school which is mostly made up of struggling readers.  From this point on, I will gladly not use that term anymore:)  I love that she has given positive terms to the different groups.  So, my class is mostly made up of developing readers. 

"These students do not see themselves as capable of becoming strong readers, and they (and their parents) are beginning to despair, perhaps thinking that reading competence will remain forever out of their reach."
 The Book Whisperer - Donalyn Miller page 24

Sadly, I have seen this first hand.  I feel some students (and parents) I have been able to give hope and have seen them come a long way....others I feel I have failed and not for lack of trying.  I am encouraged and excited about this upcoming year and what awaits me as I am armed with this wonderful book:)

I am encouraged because I did start independent reading in my classroom last year but as I read on, not nearly a large enough amount of time!!

Another point she made that smacked me in the head speaks about to basal or not.....(she never said basal, but that's the way I took it when speaking about the whole class reading the same thing, forgive me if I'm thinking wrong)

"If you are a student and your entire class is reading one book together (a common practice), what do you do if you don't like that book?  How would that uninteresting book color your view of books in general?  By denying students the opportunity to choose their own books to read, teachers are giving students a fish year after year but never teaching them to go near the water, much less fish for themselves."  Page 29

Wow!  I do use basals but each year use them less and less.  That statement really had me thinking....ok, these kids are developing readers and what if they have no interest at all in the story, now I've really lost them....

Another point that hit me was after she has given her students the opportunity to choose their own books, they were asking her all sorts of questions, expecting this to be about assessments, activities,

"They don't have much confidence in me.  If I am not going to quiz them on every book and monitor their every reading move, how will I control reading for them?  School, for them, is about performing to the teacher's expectations and doing the work that the teacher requires."  Page 33

This is sad, but my question is.....aren't we as teachers pushed into that by what's expected of us?  Excuse my thinking out loud....these were just my random thoughts. 

Didn't mean to quote almost the whole chapter....I just love this book!!!  Every word hits home with me:)
I will definitely be starting my year off with a book frenzy and student interest surveys targeted towards helping me help them become the best, engaged readers they can be:)


  1. My first year there was a set of basals in my classroom, but nobody told me I had to use them. I selected stories here and there, but I knew deep down it was not appropriate for all of my students. The following year, I did a lot of literature circles and literacy workstations and used the basal even less. The last two years I haven't even used them at all. In fact, they had to order me new sets of books last year, and I didn't even ask for the basal to be ordered. Basal readers go against everything we know about differentiation, and meeting students where they will learn. Everything about this book hits home with me as well!

    Go Fourth! With Mrs. Owens

  2. Tara, I barely use the basal at all. In fact, I haven't for nearly 20 years. (Nancie Atwell's In the Middle changed me) I was thinking that she was talking about novel units. Like the whole class reading Stone Fox together. Either way, you limit student choice, which is all powerful. I don't do very many novel units anymore either, but I have always enjoyed teaching them. Now she makes me wonder--Do the kids like learning from them?

    Do you have any additional thoughts for me on students you work with who have a tough time with decoding, but are great at thinking about reading? Those have definitely been my most difficult group to reach. I have a Masters in special education, and I am a proponent of inclusion and differentiation, but those things don't help them to be better readers...

    I appreciate your thoughts! Love this book.

  3. Hi Tara! I am in the middle of reading The Book Whisperer right now, and I was so excited to see that you had blogged about it! Like you, I have been VERY inspired by what I am reading, and I am so excited to apply ideas from this book. Thanks for your great posts!

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