The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller is the focus for this year and the Literacy Connection group here in Central Ohio. As I read Chapter 4 – titled "Reading Freedom," I continued to think a lot about my kindergarten classroom and my readers at home.
I loved reading through the discussion Donalyn shared with her students about book choice. She honors reality for readers. The really good reasons we pick books; authors, series, genre, and recommendations. She also honors real reasons for picking books; rereading a book, reading the ending first, easy books, one genre, and abandoning books. The readers in my room are growing and fostering their reading lives. We are learning about print and how it works together to tell a story. My students have been picking books to read to take home for reading from early in the year. We launched independent book boxes with choice books. We talked about why we pick books. We pick books because we have a purpose, an interest, we understand, and we know the book. These ideas do come from The Daily Five book by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. I think their guidance and explicit language works well for our youngest learners who are experiencing school for the first time. I did adjust the meaning of their "Know - I know most of the words" to I have seen or heard the book, making it a known book not so much about the word reading right now. It has been fun hearing my kindergarten students explain why they chose books with care and reflection. They mention characters and authors. They mention being an expert on a topic. They are creating a reading life for themselves. My students have "Mrs Robek"/guided reading books in their book box and two choice books. We shop at the same time but I hope to move this to our morning explore and create flexibility for when the books are changed.
Setting reading goals helps students catch the reading bug. My students need to catch the reading bug and need to practice daily. Donalyn mentions reading goals build independent reading habits. My students do need to do this. I love Donalyn's balance of guiding her students to read in different genres and allows room for a substantial amount of student choice. I woke up one day right after the holidays and reading this book thinking about launching guided reading. This is independent reading for my students. We need and can accomplish a reading goal. Our books are small and thin but that doesn't negate the work needed to navigate the text. I want them to catch the reading bug now, too. We are going to read 25 books a quarter! That sounds like a lot I think for a kindergarten student but remember we are early and emerging readers. My students attend school just 20 days a quarter and I'm sending home an independent read each day. We have paper books we send home and keep home that highlight our word wall learning. There are about 40 days in a quarter and that doesn't include weekends. So, I'm not asking them to record a book for every day. I want to help them set a goal, work towards that goal and feel accomplishment while catching the reading bug and growing their reading. I'm going to keep this quote in mind from the text, "It is important to celebrate milestones with students and focus on their reading successes, not their failure to meet requirements, which only serves to discourage students."
On the home front, I found myself thinking about my two older daughters and how they have spent many summers especially rereading favorite series - Harry Potter and Hungry Games to be exact. Donalyn shares a quote from her blog that really hit home on the home front for me. "...Books are multi-layered; one reading is not enough and this is known only to those who truly read. - Joann on "The Book Whisperer." When I read this, I thought my girls must truly read and maybe I don't. Rereading a book doesn't seem to be something I do personally but I did while teaching third grade. I found some titles just to be more enjoyable each time I reread it for various reasons. I found myself thinking again about my two older readers with this quote, "Readers travel through both worlds, that of high art and that of popular culture." They both have ventured into the vampire world of reading with a popular series and then my middle daughter has become fascinated with vampire books. A topic I can't wrap my head around but I understand more now thanks to Donalyn. Who knew Donalyn would help me professionally and as a parent!