Thursday, May 14, 2015

Avid Readers

Last summer I read The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller.  I picked it up at a Scholastic Warehouse sale because it was cheap and I had read some good reviews on other blogs.  I did a blog post last summer when I originally read the book.

I wanted to give a little update about a year after having read the book.  A little disclaimer: I have a "high ability cluster" this year in my class, so my "results" are not typical of my classroom.  I'd like to think my reading had some effect though!

We started off with bags of books on day 1 this year.  I loaded them with As and Bs from Reading A-Z.  My strategy behind this was I don't know how they will treat books and how many have handled them in the past.  If they can't read the words, they can read the pictures.  I set the expectation that everyone would "read" their books during our "quiet reading time".  We tracked our stamina (about 6 seconds that first day if I remember correctly) and we were on our way to becoming readers.

As we started to get more into it and students started being able to independently track text 1-1, I started adding leveled books from my classroom library to students' bags.  By the end of October, we were at about 5 minutes of quiet reading time.  Last year, I introduced the quiet reading concept in October.  This year, my students were asking when we didn't have quiet reading time why we didn't get it. (insert "HOORAY!")

By January, most of my kiddos were pushing a C-D guided reading level and were picking up sight words like crazy.  We continued with our independent reading daily and the expectation that if you finish early, you get out your books and read.  Students recorded themselves reading their "book bag books" on the iPad for me to watch every other week.

I met with my guided reading groups daily and was really seeing some progress.  My kiddos were getting excited about books!  By March, they were asking for more time to read.  Their stamina was about 15 minutes at this point, and they wanted to know when we could read some more.  Due to some scheduling beyond my control around this time, I had to cut our dedicated block of reading full group, but I did replace it with a "read to self" type center during my reading rotations.

My kiddos cannot get enough of books.  They are spontaneously sharing recommendations with each other and have asked to take books home (they receive 2 Reading A-Z books on their level weekly).  This guy below even got comfortable with his DRA book today :).

In the book, Miller states over and over to set the expectation for kids to always have books available for themselves to read.  They should have a book anytime they have down time.  This expectation is clear in our classroom; my kiddos don't even ask anymore what to do when they are done, the books automatically come out and there is a low reading buzz.

We were going on a field trip last week that was about 35 minutes away.  We have never gone on a trip this far since I have taught kindergarten, and I couldn't imagine what they might get into on the bus that long (didn't want to think about it).  I allowed them to each choose 4 new books that morning and told them they could take them on the bus to read on the way there.  They thought it was cool that I was telling them they could take books out of our classroom to read on the bus.  Behavior on the bus was amazing, and it was so fun to watch and listen to them read to themselves and one another.  Some of my colleagues thought I was nuts, but it was such a blessing to see them so excited about books.

I am incredibly proud of my kiddos' reading progress this year, but more than that, I love that they love books.  My teacher heart is so happy to hear that they want to go to the library over the summer and love to read to each other.  I'm looking forward to our last few days together and am planning to add in lots of "quiet reading time" and not-so-quiet-reading-time so we can share our books with each other.

How do you grow readers in your classroom?  What are some of your students' favorite books?  We are always looking for recommendations!


  1. So awesome! That book by Donalyn Miller is great... Glad your kiddos found the love of reading so early! :-)

    1. Thanks, Michelle! I hope their love of reading stays with them as they grow!

  2. Your results are amazing and you should be proud! I think I need to put that book on my summer reading list this year.
    Learning at the Teacher Table

    1. It was an easy read, Donna. I'm excited for them to have a hobby like reading, and I'm very proud of their hard work! Have a great weekend!