Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller Reflection #1

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller is this year's focus for the Literacy Connection in Central Ohio. As we read this book I will be sharing my reflections here in my blog. I am excited to be reading The Book Whisperer, I have heard so many great things I was starting to feel I was the only one who hasn't read the book!

On the cover of The Book Whisperer are these words-
        Awaking the Inner Reader in Every Child 

These words stuck with me as Donalyn tells us about the evolution of her life as a reader, how she can no longer separate her personal identity from that of the reader who she is today.
My identity as a person is so entwined with my love of reading and books that I cannot separate the two.
As Donalyn explained her earliest memories as a reader I began to think about how my life as a reader has unfolded. I have not always loved reading, in fact there was a time when reading was a chore, something I only did when a teacher assigned reading. The love of reading I have now is a recent development. I know this sounds frightening and as I type I toy with the urge to hit delete. But I keep going because I know my story has made me the educator I am today. Because of my reading story I know first hand reading makes us who we are. I know the love of reading cannot be put on us. I know we have to accept it, we have to welcome it, we have to embrace it and we have to choose it.

I remember sitting in my first grade classroom waiting to hear if Miss Hooper would call my group for reading. When I heard my groups name I wondered (even as a six year child) if my group was the lowest reading group? We all scooted our chairs into a circle, each holding the same Dick and Jane reader (I know, I am dating myself here). Miss Hooper picked a reader to start and told them how many sentences to read. We went around the circle taking our turn. As I waited my turn I counted out my sentences, then I practiced each word until I was certain I could read my part without the embarrassment of an error. After reading my piece I was done and when we all finished reading the group was over. If we talked about the book I don't remember.
Not all of my early memories are so gloomy. As a young child I was a member of the Weekly Reader Book Club.  I remember the Max (the mailman) walking up to my house and putting the new book in my mailbox. When the newest book came my mom dropped everything and sat with me on the couch to read our newest book. These early reading memories are much happier, I can still see the living room and hear my mom reading and smell the new book! I still love that smell! I loved this time with my mom and books.

My reading life was without event or notice again until I became a mom. My oldest daughter was born reading! She read everything she could get her hands on, she always had a book! Books were powerful and she knew it at an early age. While mom's in our playgroup were warning their children of the possibility of a timeout I was warning my daughter of the possibility of only 4 books at bedtime instead of her hefty 5!

Lexi's love of books never faltered and to this day she is a reader. Like Donalyn I don't think she could separate who she is from the reader that she has always been. I watched Lexi with her books, her attachment became contagious, I began to pick up more and more books, I wanted to be a reader like my daughter.

It was about this time that I began to learn more about teaching reading. I understood reading wasn't about the have to's in life it was about changing thinking and stretching who you are. For the first time the role understanding plays in real reading became clear. I understood asking questions, making inferences and sharing your thinking with others IS real reading. Reading became a choice, it became social and with this I became a reader!

With the privilege of building early readers I understand real readers are developed by choice and an understanding or what reading means. I know the the love of reading cannot be put on our children. I know they 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. It's my responsibility to
                                  Awaken the inner reader in Every Child 

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