The Book Whisperer- Ch 4

In this chapter we begin to learn the nuts and bolts of Miller’s approach.  She begins with a candid class discussion of how to choose a book.  She lays the foundation of trust with her honest response to the student who claimed that books are boring.  (Haven’t we all read boring books?)  Furthermore, she stands by her beliefs of empowering her students by giving them as much choice as possible, even if that means honoring the more cultural trendy books that aren’t going to win any awards.  Her students have to be in shock and disbelief the first few days of her class, especially  when she gives the 40 book requirement.  Using the reader’s notebook (both hers and theirs) make conferencing and checking on progress so personal, effective, and productive.  I love that talking about what the students are going to read next is part of this.  She neatly integrates the necessary reading elements while nurturing the love of reading.

“Readers whispering back and forth about their reading experiences- this is how reading should look.”  I’m ready to be a book whisperer!

Do you agree?  What are your thoughts at this point?  What is your favorite aspect?  Do you believe it can be done?




Filed under The Book Whisperer Discussion

11 responses to “The Book Whisperer- Ch 4

  1. Never underestimate the students need to discuss books…they will bend your ear every time they see you! One thing I learned this past year was that we need to provide more time for students to discuss books. I think with guided questions this would work…there is always a fine balance between time wasted chatting about other things and time for a book discussion. I did feel that it was equally important to provide a classroom that was absolutely quiet so that kids could lose themselves in their books.

    Teressa was better than I was at recommending books…but you will find those students who will “push” their wares too. I had one student who didn’t care for reading. He stumbled onto Sherman Alexie’s book, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.” This boy pushed this book like something on the underground black market. I would see him quietly talking to individual boys while showing them the book. Next thing I knew, the book was being passed around. A few weeks later, this boy came to me with an amazon print off with 4 more of Alexie’s books circled that he wanted me to order! LOL!! At one of our midyear conferences, this boy told me that at the beginning of the year he didn’t want to read and his mom would make him. By this time of year, he was getting in trouble for staying up way past his bedtime reading Alexie’s books!

    I love that students have the opportunity to fall in love with an author! We broke the 40 books up into genres, and asked them to read 4 books from each genre, including 4 recommended by others and 4 from any genre they loved. The positive thing about doing this was that most kids found that they loved a genre that they didn’t expect to like…many times it was SciFi.

    Did I mention that this is the best decision we’ve ever made?! LOL

  2. Here is what I am thinking for my third graders’ goal:

    1 poetry
    2 traditional
    5 realistic
    2 fantasy
    2 science fiction
    2 mystery
    10 science nonfiction
    6 SS fiction or nonfiction
    4 informational
    4 free choice nonfiction
    2 biographies
    10 free choice

    50 total

    What do you think!?

    I love the reading focus and I am thinking that I can do this. I do think that I need to read some of the series that the kids read that I have not read yet- like Percy Jackson.

    • Wow, Renee. I think you are a master teacher who knows her students. If you believe 50 is doable, then so will your students.
      And I agree, I want to read so many books. As media coordinator covering PK-5th it is quite a list. Ready to be done with this degree so I can focus.
      Good luck, & I’d be interested to hear how it goes.

  3. Katie

    This chapter made me want to go back and read children’s and young adult books! There are so many good ones, and to be able to discuss them with kids is priceless. I have to admit though, I found it hard to believe that 6th graders would so willingly read while waiting for field trip bus, while standing in line, during a class interruption, etc. Aren’t 11-year-olds about the chattiest of all ages!? I wonder how discipline is involved here.

  4. Katie, It does seem hard to believe but then I got to thinking how much her students trust and respect her, they may read if they were asked especially if they are just waiting around. But I’m with you about the field trip. 🙂

  5. Scarlett Perry

    I was particulary interested in her approach to teachcing genre. As I was reading chapter 4, Miller’s approaches creatively ensourage student to utilize higher order thinking by applying information from classroom maintained charts re: genre identification. I hope to utilize genre charts with my students this year.

  6. Donna Beck

    I like Renee’s list for third graders, since science and social studies will need to be incorporated. I really enjoyed this chapter as far as adding the lessons, especially learning about the different genres. Making charts about the genres will be great! Each day I am planning to have “mini” lessons and book discussions, such as how to choose a book. I think this will greatly help the language arts teacher.

  7. Donna Beck

    I plan to have notebooks very similar to the one the author uses former class, with the students’ writing about the different genres in one section. How wonderful for students to examine and detect which genre a book is by the various techniques talked about.

    • Mollie

      I liked that too. The notebook is a great idea. I was thinking of starting mine now. I have been reading a lot this summer. I do need to get into more children’s books. I don’t think I can share with them how I like Nora Roberts books! 🙂

  8. Lori Yelk

    “Readers whispering back and forth about their reading experiences- this is how reading should look.” While reading is a very personal independent activity, I love the way reading brings people together.

  9. Mollie

    I loved how Ms. Miller started laying out her plan for how to begin this process. Her writing is easy to read and understand. As you all mentioned, I liked how she incorporated social studies themes into her teaching. That’s how it should be. The textbook only gives part of the information. It is much more engaging to learn through literature. As a special education teacher, I appreciated that she mentioned how she dealt with students that are reading below grade level and may not meet the 40 book requirement. As she said, it’s about the reading, not requirements and we should meet our students where they are. We have such a variety of students in our classes. Through conferencing with students, she learns about each one as a reader. She discovered how to help motivate them by focusing on their reading succcess. The reader’s notebook is vital to this process. She used it to guide her instruction. Talk about differentiation. She helped them develop reading goals. Our students don’t have many opportunities to set goals. This is a life skill.

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