As I sit reading and writing on a summer afternoon it’s hard to imagine a prettier spot to reflect on Donalyn Miller‘s two books: The Book Whisperer, and Reading in the Wild. Her clear message is that we go beyond teaching children how to read and comprehend; we are to create life long readers. And she asks the question: What are the habits of life long readers?
Do you consider yourself a life long reader? Could you identify the reading habits you have developed that ‘fit’, with being a life long reader?
I had to think about this. What makes me a life long reader? My love of books was developed early in life, and I delight in the connections I make as I read, connections that enlarge my view of the world and give me a better understanding of my self, but how does this love of reading translate into guiding students to become life long readers? What is it that life long readers do?
In Reading in the Wild Donalyn Miller identifies and explains how she promotes these 5 characteristics of life long readers.
Life long readers:
1. Dedicate time to read. – I am thinking that I need to guide my students to develop reading stamina and learn to read for longer periods of time. Can students add to their reading time in other ways? Yes! Donalyn uses the term, reading on the edge, for those small blocks of time through the the day, waiting for an appointment, or riding on the bus when we can capture a few minutes of reading time. Of course, it is helpful to carry a book with you wherever you go in case you have just such a reading emergency.
2. Self-select reading material. How true this is! Students are keen to read books they choose themselves.
3. Share books and reading with other readers. A classroom community of readers who share and talk about books, sounds inviting. I love talking about books with friends and colleagues and I know that my students would love this too.
4. Have reading plans. I have never thought about explicitly teaching this to students. I can see that this characteristic propels readers onward. The onus is on me to continually increase my knowledge of children’s literature so that I can inspire my students to anticipate the next book they might read. Fortunately this is something I love to do.
5. Show preferences for genres, authors, and topics. In my experience grade threes are beginning to develop preferences and often it is books that are part of a series. There is room to expand their horizons and show them the variety of reading options available.
And so I wondered… How do I encourage these habits with 8 year olds who are just on the cusp of becoming established readers. And more importantly how do I promote these characteristics with online learners?
The answer just fell into my lap last spring! Tune in to my next post to learn about my plan.