Sunday, March 3, 2013

Student Book Recommendations The Book Whisper by Donalyn Miller Reflection # 3


The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller is this year's focus for the Literacy Connection in Central Ohio. Reading The Book Whisperer spurs my creativity and challenges me to think deeper about my beliefs and practices. This reflection hinges on my firm belief that real readers are developed by choice and by an understanding of what reading means. I know the love of reading cannot be put on our children. I believe children have to accept it, they have to welcome it, they have to embrace it and we have to let them choose it! With such an important choice in their hands it is my responsibility to provide authentic reading experiences and books that are engaging, inviting and addictive.

As I wrote in a previous post my students choose their daily reading and share books with one another as a means to honor authentic book selection and a love of reading. As I read chapter 4 of the Book Whisperer I began to ask myself if I had opened all the possibilities of authentic reading and honoring student's book choice. Donalyn Miller shares-
I believe the students should be empowered to make as many book choices as possible, including the books we read together. The idea of students clamoring for books fits into my goal of getting them excited about reading. By valuing their opinions about books, even the books we share as a class, I let them know that their preferences are as important as mine. 
At first I read this I thought nothing of it, I am already honoring my student book choices. My kids know their choices are honored…right? After a few more pages something in those words would not leave me, I went back to reread and reflect on Donalyn's words and my practice. Then it hit me! I allow my kids to choose books to take home, but I haven't welcomed their books or their choices to come into our room.

So with the intent to let my readers know their book choices are indeed as important as mine I opened our room to books the kids thought our class might enjoy by implementing Sharon Draper's "Host the Rail".  I heard Sharon Draper speak last year at the Dublin Literacy Conference about a classroom book recommendation practice she called "Host the Rail." Students were encouraged to bring in books from home, the library or wherever they find great books and place them on the rail of the chalkboard to share with the class.

Hosting the rail would be a great fit with opinion writing and enhance our current classroom community of readers. We sat down as a class to discuss this new idea and the kids responded with eagerness! The first week the shelf was full and the kids devoured the books! When it was time to take these books down to welcome new books the kids balked, they wanted to maintain access to these books. So we added a new tub under the rail, this tub holds the previously hosted books. This seemed to please the crowd and the second week was another hit!

The third week was not the charm it promised to be... I looked at the rail and sadly saw only one book! I asked the hosting group about this and they nonchalantly replied "I wanted to bring one from home, but I forgot it." Another said, "I just didn't see anything good in the library." YIKES! What had happened to our newest reading hook?

I turned back to Donalyn Miller's book and reread these haunting words~
... By valuing their opinions about books, even the books we share as a class, I let them know that their preferences are as important as mine. 
That's it! I have not valued these books as books we share as a class. So, when I choose these books to be our read alouds and the books for our focus lessons the kids will see I value their book choice, these books will be the books kids clamor for once again! Next week, I will be reading and teaching from the books chosen by my kids, after all isn't this the reading they'll be doing in the world of a reader?

Read more about the Literacy Connection and The Book Whisperer on @manyrobek's blog~ Enjoy and Embrace Learning

1 comment:

Mandy said...

I love your thinking and realizing you needed to use their books to foster the flow of sharing books and recommending books to each other. I think young readers will be thrilled to have you share their books. You will be valuing their reading life. Thanks for giving me a shout out for my posts.