This is by far THE best book I've read that makes a case to educators as to why we need to be giving our kids choice in the books they read.
There is a disturbing trend in our country that when students hit junior high, they stop reading for pleasure. There have been many studies to find out the answer to this conundrum, but even without the studies, I've known the answer all along and so does Donalyn Miller: Once kids hit junior high, they're force-fed books that they don't want to read, that they find either too challenging or too easy, and then they're required to dissect the book to death by answering questions on mindless worksheets or writing painful essays in literary criticism. If that doesn't take the joy out of reading, I don't know what does.
What I love so much about this book is that Miller openly addresses how to deal with the "difficult" students and doesn't try to make herself out to be the savior to every troubled child that shows up in her classroom by instantaneously turning them into a voracious reader. Instead, she shows us how to celebrate the small victories of those students rather than lamenting over the fact that they don't meet every requirement set forth by the teacher.
If it were up to me, every each and every language arts teacher, administrator, and educational policy maker would be required to read this book!
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