The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller is the focus for this year and the Literacy Connection group here in Central Ohio. As part of our reading, thinking, and college credit I've been asked to do eight reflections with blogging being an option. I thought I could share my journey and thinking here. I also needed a plan for those eight reflections and I got very lucky when I opened the book, there are seven chapters so I will have to be clever for post number 8!
As I read Chapter 1 – There and Back Again I found my own memories ping ponging back and forth as I read Donalyn tell her story. She writes about her mother and how reading began with signs and books she would gather for her. I recently wrote a Nerdy Book Club post just last week where I share my reading artifacts from my childhood and also speak of my mother and her influence on my reading life.
Donalyn's mother worried about her socially because Donalyn would chose to stay in her room reading so often. I have a daughter who does this right now. While I know it’s a beautiful gift to be a reader like this I do worry she is withdrawing socially but Donalyn gives me hope and I hope she finds a soul mate like Don Miller. My oldest is an avid reader too but has managed the social piece quite well.
Donalyn shares her first year teaching experience and creating a wonderful unit of teaching around assignments as students would read the book, that didn't go so well. As I read Donalyn’s story, I felt blessed. I entered teaching at a time and in a place, Wickliffe Progressive School in Upper Arlington, OH where independent reading was a norm. It happened in every room. The school has a common philosophy and a history to guide their work with children and families. Students discussed books, responded through the arts, kept reading logs, and discussed genres. My mentors there were so smart and I’m so glad the work I did there still grounds me today.
Donalyn shares the next step in journey which led her to a reading workshop format. She realized she couldn't teach the way she had been taught and neither can I.
I love these sentences Donalyn has learned by being a reader.
“Reading changes your life.”
“Reading unlocks worlds unknown or forgotten, taking travelers around the world and through time.”
“Reading helps you escape the confines of school and pursue your own education.”