While I have been on a little bit of a writing hiatus, I have not in anyway been on a reading break. As a matter of fact, I’m a little scared about the amount of work I have waiting ahead of me to update my Amazon reading list. The book I finished earlier this week is The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. I first learned about Donalyn Miller at the NWP Annual Meeting (more writing I need to do). As a fellow Writing Project Teaching Consultant, she invigorated the audience with a great story of how she inspires her 6th grade students to read more than 40 books per year while also, like many of us, struggling to be a writer. The mere fact that Donalyn is able to convince her students to read such an enormous amount of books (when compared to the normal American classroom) piqued my interest. How does she do it? How much does she spend in bribes? Is she holding some sort of massive grade above those little adolescent heads? Quite to the contrary, Donalyn focuses her energy and resources on helping students become passionate, independent readers. The Book Whisperer is much more than just an account of her classroom of prolific readers – its inspirational.
Through a Texas twang you can hear through her writing, Donalyn takes readers on a journey into her classroom in suburban Dallas where she teaches English Language Arts and Social Studies using a reading and writing workshop approach. She freely shares all the “secrets” she has gleaned from the likes of Janet Allen, Nancie Atwell, and Brian Cambourne…and tested out on her students. Donalyn’s book was so personally inspirational that while I’ve always felt grateful to have a science credential that has allowed me to avoid teaching the Houghton-Mifflin scripted reading curriculum, I’m beginning to wonder if I should return to the classroom and make use of my elementary credential to teach 6th grade English Language Arts. The Book Whisperer is a great read for anyone who is looking to start their own independent reading program and create a classroom full of voracious readers. You can even download the first chapter using the Kindle app.