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The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child 1st Edition

368 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 858-0001044385
ISBN-10: 0470372273
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The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child + Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer's Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits + Smarter Charts K-2: Optimizing an Instructional Staple to Create Independent Readers and Writers
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Because she couldn’t find a book that showed her how to use her own love of books to imbue her elementary students with the same love, Miller, Teacher Magazine blogger, decided to write her own. She recalls her personal journey as a teacher and the surprise and disappointment of learning that book loving cannot be automatically passed on to students. No more having the whole class read the same novel. She gave her students questionnaires to determine their interests and personally selected stacks of books of possible interest to them, then allowed them to read independently—at least 40 books a school year. She recounts the experience of some students struggling and others exhilarated by the freedom to read. Miller’s tactics resulted in improvement in her students’ vocabulary, comprehension, and writing. She also saw students respect book suggestions that came from a reader’s passion rather than a teacher’s agenda. Miller includes reading lists, activities, questionnaires, and other resources. Although aimed at teachers, this book will also definitely appeal to parents interested in encouraging their children to read. --Vanessa Bush

Review

[Starred review] Miller, a sixth-grade language arts and social studies teacher and blogger, has enabled students of many different backgrounds to enjoy reading and to be good at it; her students regularly score high on the Texas standardized tests. Her approach is simple yet provocative: affirm the reader in every student, allow students to choose their own books, carve out extra reading time, model authentic reading behaviors, discard timeworn reading assignments such as book reports and comprehension worksheets, and develop a classroom library filled with high-interest books. Her students regularly read more than 40 books in a school year and leave her classroom with an appreciation and love of books and reading. Miller provides many tips for teachers and parents and includes a useful list of ultimate reading suggestions picked by her students. This outstanding contribution to the literature is highly recommended for teachers, parents, and others serving young students.—Mark Bay, Univ. of the Cumberlands Lib., Williamsburg, KY (Library Journal, March 15, 2009)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (March 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470372273
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470372272
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.7 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (368 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Donalyn Miller has worked with a variety of upper elementary and middle school students and currently teaches fifth grade at O.A. Peterson Elementary in Fort Worth, Texas. In her popular book, The Book Whisperer, Donalyn reflects on her journey to become a reading teacher and describes how she inspires and motivates her middle school students to read 40 or more books a year. In her latest book, Reading in the Wild, Donalyn collects responses from 900 adult readers and uses this information to teach lifelong reading habits to her students. Donalyn currently facilitates the community blog, The Nerdy Book Club and co-writes a regular column for Scholastic's Principal-to-Principal Newsletter. Her articles about teaching and reading have appeared in publications such as Education Week Teacher, The Reading Teacher, Educational Leadership, and The Washington Post.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

126 of 129 people found the following review helpful By A VINE VOICE on March 14, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
How do you awaken the inner reader in someone? You teach them to read for pleasure. It sounds like such a simple concept really. Forcing spinach down a kid's throat doesn't make a kid love spinach any more than forcing boring books down a kid's throat. But serving that spinach in a souffle and giving a kid a book that they enjoy just might work.

The author pulled me in from the beginning by being a reflection of what I'd like to see myself be as a literature teacher. Mainly, she's able to turn non-readers into readers and to turn book loathers into book lovers. Her 6th grade class is challenged to read 40 books each year and most go even beyond that goal. But I work with adult ESL students in an American literature class. Could her methods work for them as well? In one week, I've already noticed an excitement from my book loathers when I announce that it's time for pleasure reading in class. They know that if they don't like something, they're not going to be forced to read it for "pleasure". And that seems to make all the difference to them.

I felt the need to underline passages and write in the margins of this book (a rarity for me) as I read. Miller talks about how important it is that students read to become good readers. This is why she feels so strongly about giving free reading time in class. She also feels that teachers should re-evaluate class activities to determine whether such activities are accomplishing anything or are mere busy work that could be replaced by reading time. She also expresses the importance of reading leading to private dialogue or "whispering" between student and teacher and between student and student. This whispering can be accomplished through letters back and forth between student and teacher and from individual student-teacher conferences.
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77 of 79 people found the following review helpful By L. K. Messner on March 1, 2009
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Donalyn Miller gets it. She understands perfectly why many of our kids don't like reading any more, and she has the answer. You'd think Congress would be knocking down her door by now. Let's hope it happens soon.

In the mean time, anyone who considers himself or herself a teacher needs to read THE BOOK WHISPERER. It's a book that gets right to the heart of what makes us readers and how to instill that love of words and stories in our kids. Miller goes right after so-called "tried and true" methods like comprehension tests, book reports, whole class required novels, and test preparation workbooks not just with empty criticism but with solid research that supports reading time and student choice. More importantly, she provides a healthy list of more kid-friendly, reading-friendly alternative strategies that teachers can use in their classrooms right away.

Truly, this book is a model for getting kids back to books they love, and it provides a great model for classroom teachers to follow. For those who aren't sure where to start, there are plenty of anecdotes, sample student interactions, and useful classroom forms to get new teachers started.

I'm both a children's author and a National Board Certified middle school English teacher, and I found myself nodding my way through these pages to the very end. Miller's ideas -- and they're ideas that smart teachers all over our country are using in various ways -- have the power to make a real difference in education.
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Richmond VINE VOICE on March 15, 2009
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Books are criticized all the time for what they lack. Even prolific and enormously successful J. K. Rowling has been bashed for everything from selling out to commercialization to satanism and devil worship. How gratifying to find in this tight book lots of reasons kids should be reading and lots of ways to get them to do so. Miller's approach is a bit different. She wildly embraces the concept of kids making their own reading choices and reading independently. No moronic worksheets for comprehension or cribbed book reports here, just lots of suggestions for the classroom library and lots of ways for kids to talk about their choices intelligently to adults and especially to other kids, spreading the word quite literally. Courageously, Miller even admits to developing her classroom library entirely at her own expense and invites others to do so as well. She says it's really the only way to create a sufficiently extensive library with ever shrinking school budgets and shrunken head administrators who are more interested in competency testing scores than in children learning to read. She also provides some inexpensive and even free methods of acquiring books. This is great stuff, highly recommended, and THE reading inspiration book for this genreration.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By CGScammell TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 26, 2009
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Donalyn Miller's passion for reading is quite obvious when reading this book. She reminds me of myself: I am an avid reader who carries a book wherever I go just in case I can "steal" a few minutes reading while waiting for an appointment, a traffic jam to unwind, etc.

She also loves being a teacher. She loves her job, respects her students and shares her love for books and reads with her students. She learns her students' personal reading preferences by making them fill out surveys at the start of the school year. Those who don't like to read learn to love to read by the end of the school year.

Her tips make a lot of sense. She suggests the reading teacher do the following: develop a personal library, create reading workshops, initiate book groups, allow students to read books they enjoy and don't demand book reports, have a reading corner with comfortable furniture available, and give the students some empowerment by working with their personal reading interests. If a student can read at least 30 minutes a day then the student is on its way on becoming a book whisperer.

One good tip for teachers: read more children's books and take recommendations from your students on what you should read.

According to Miller, there are three types of readers: the Developing reader, the Dormant (reluctant) reader and the Underground (gifted) reader. All can overcome their hesitance to read if teachers allow them to choose their own books to read. Her class day starts every day with fifteen minutes of "Independent Reading" where students can read whatever they want, a book, a magazine, a picture book, silently. If a book doesn't interest them after a few minutes, they can try another book.
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The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child
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