Friday, June 7, 2013

Book Review: The Book Whisperer

The first book on my monthly books to read list was The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. A little back on Mrs. Miller, she is a middle school teacher in Texas who constantly inspires her students to read books. She is an inspiration not just to teachers with her approaches but even the amount of reading she does on her own is amazing. I wish I had some of that discipline that she does. She talks about reading a book a day and her expectations for her students is that they read 40 books a year. As an educator that is a pretty lofty goal, I have students in fifth grade who have never read a book front to back. Many of them struggle with reading a book that is on grade level that is longer than 80 pages.

Throughout the book you read some of her background into her thinking, and her intentionality in how here reading class is done. If you are looking for curriculum planning the first thing you note is that she is not promoting a type of reading class that follows some basil. I don't think I can stress this enough, while I love the strategies and the methodology she teaches with, it works for her, it doesn't mean that it will work for everyone. You have to have the same heart and love for reading that she does. As most teachers know you need to commit whole heartedly to whatever you are going to be teaching and how you’re going to teach it. Students are very savvy; they can tell when you are faking it, when you don't believe in what you are teaching. It was that way for me at the beginning of the year. This was the first year I taught only Math and Social Studies; prior to this year I had only taught English and Social Studies, this year was a learning curve for me. For the first few months I was definitely faking it until I gained a grasp of all the standards and materials that I was in possession of. Next year, unless I switch to another class I feel prepared to teach Math again, and I will no longer be faking it. 

This year I also learned that I had a lot of the knowledge to teach the subject but I had to have faith in myself and trust my instincts. These are things that as you read the book you can see Donalyn Miller saying it. She states that in her classroom she would never have a book she hasn't read first. Some might see that as difficult but if you love reading you will do it. I know that if I was teaching English again that is one thing I would do. The good thing is that before I read her book I already did many of the things she suggests.

If you are a teacher this is a book for you to read, especially if you are struggling to get your students to view reading as a valuable tool for their future. 

You can check out her website here:

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