Author: Donalyn Miller
If “Book Love” was enough to inspire a new pedagogy for my classroom, “The Book Whisperer” puts it over the edge into a solid commitment.
Miller is a grade six teacher who has taken the idea of getting students to read and accelerated it to its max. She espouses the idea that traditional methods of getting students to understand reading strategies (worksheets, notes and disambiguated examples) pale when putting books into students hands and getting them to read.
First, I am jealous of her classroom library.
As someone who purged most of his books over the past five years (close to two hundred)… mainly because they were nothing more than showpieces… and because they were burdensome to keep moving… I am kicking myself for not saving them for my classroom. I’ve been slowly building it over the course of this year, and noticing its huge success with my students, but hearing she has 2,000 titles? Well, now I’m envious.
If there’s one thing Miller does, is instill confidence into teachers to attempt a new approach that gets students falling in love with reading. Really, it’s a simple matter of learning to let go and getting ready to pick your battles with those who would fight against the status quo.
She provides ample examples to follow and you can feel her passion for reading bleed off the page. She is even as extreme as getting students to bring their books with them when they wait in line for getting their pictures taken. The fact she gets them on board with that level of commitment is impressive.
The sad part in reading near the end is hearing about her students who come back to her upset their reading expectations after her class. You begin to understand that a love of reading is possible, but we never give young people the opportunity to discover it in school.
It’s an inspiration for me to continue down the path in my own class. Even if my students leave never getting a chance to read for the pleasure of reading, at least they will have this year as a foundation… and I will work hard to make it so.