Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller

Teaching is a career that can burn you out and drag you down. With so much political fervor in the education world today, not to mention faux research being purported as fact, it's hard to feel inspired anymore. That's where a book like Reading in the Wild stands out. Not only has Donalyn Miller done her research, but she has found a way for teachers and students to be inspired by learning again. And she doesn't just want it. She has found a way for you to do it in your own classrooms.

When I read The Book Whisperer almost four years ago, I felt inspired and empowered as a teacher. I knew the words I was reading about giving kids their reading lives back were important and just what educators needed to hear. I have never regretted a single day of completely changing the way I teach after reading Donalyn's first book.

But I, like Donalyn, initially lamented over the fact that once my students left my class, they stopped reading voraciously. Ever increasing homework demands coupled with lack of free reading time in their new classrooms left most former students barely reading five books a year, let alone the forty Donalyn invites her students to read under her tutelage. But Donalyn, being the ever reflective teacher that she is, recognized the need to pinpoint what behaviors lifelong readers possess and wanted to figure out a way to instill those behaviors in her students. How could she move her dependent readers to become independent readers. Thus Reading in the Wild was born.

I can't even begin to tell you what an important book this is. You just have to experience it for yourself. But I will say this: not only is Reading in the Wild inspiring, it is also practical. Donalyn shares her methods and her means of execution, sharing reproducible forms in the back of the book for you to use and implement in your reading workshop to help start you on the path to creating wild readers in your own classrooms.

If you teach reading in any capacity, please pick up this book. And when you're finished, give it to your administrators to borrow. The conversations about creating lifelong readers need to be happening among more people than just teachers. Administrators are the ones responsible for where the money goes and Donalyn has advice and recommendations for the people controlling the purse strings too.

It amazes me that when I first read The Book Whisperer, I didn't even know who Donalyn was, and now after following her on Twitter and meeting her at conferences, I can say that one of my teaching mentors has become a friend. That might make me biased about what an important book I think Reading in the Wild is, but I want to point out that it also shows how accessible Donalyn is to her readers and fellow teachers. I am grateful for The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild, but I am equally grateful for how available and amiable Donalyn is outside the pages of her books.

Follow Donalyn on Twitter: @donalynbooks

Review cross-posted to my teaching blog Use Your Outside Voice

Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer's Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits by Donalyn Miller
Published: November 4, 2013
Publisher: Jossey-Bass
Pages: 273
Genre: Nonfiction
Audience: Teachers
Disclosure: Purchased copy

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