Reading in the Wild: Dedicate Time to Read | Mentoring in the Middle

Reading in the Wild: Dedicate Time to Read

A bunch of amazing bloggers and thoughtful teachers are linking up to study this book this summer, and I've decided to get on the bandwagon.  I'm so excited that Catherine at The Brown Bag Teacher decided to launch this!  Donalyn Miller is my hero, and it's because of The Book Whisperer that I set reading and genre goals with my students this past year.  And boy oh boy, did they knock my socks off!  At the end of the year, kids had read an average of 32.5 books!  My goal for them was 25.

Now, to be fair, some of the credit needs to go to the new Literacy person in our district.  She was insistent that kids read for half an hour a day in our sixth grade classrooms.  That took some shifting around.  We switched to the CAFE and a modified Daily 5 (more like Daily3) model mid-year, which was more stressful for teachers than kids.  The kids LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the freedom to choose when they worked on things.
And I loved watching a kid stand in front of my bookcases looking for a book.  Often, another kid would walk up and say something like, "Do you need help finding a good book?"  And then they'd go off talking about what they'd read and what they thought was good.  It was such good stuff!

In her intro, Donalyn (do you like how I call her by her first name like she's my new best friend?!) worries that having kids fall in love with reading in her class didn't necessarily turn them into lifelong readers.  Especially if they read less in middle school.  Maybe I'm an eternal optimist.  I think the happy memories they had of reading in her room (and yours and mine) will come back to them at some point, and they'll turn back to books again.

Now, here's the rub.  In order to get kids to fall in love with books, they really, really need to read every day.  For a while.  And I know that's really hard in some classrooms, and even harder to convince some administrators.  But how do you make a kid want to take his/her book home?  By getting them so immersed in what they're reading that they don't want to put it down!

Charts don't do it.  Reading logs don't do it.  Pure and simple:  reading a good book makes you want to read more!  One thing I need to do better is encourage kids to take books with them when they're waiting for something, waiting in line, waiting for a speaker at an assembly, whatever.  And that why I'm going to post this quote by Sherri Chasin Calvo somewhere in my room!

                      If you have never said, "Excuse me" to a parking meter or
              bashed your shins on a fireplug, you are probably wasting
              too much valuable reading time.

Keep reading!  And link up to this wonderful book study!


  1. I LOVE that quote! :)

  2. I have been looking for some 6th grade blogging buddies. I am also using a modified Daily 5 (daily 3) in my classroom along with the book whisperer. I can't wait to hear what else we have in common.

    Think, Wonder, & Teach

    1. Let's be in touch! There aren't nearly as many sixth grade teachers out there blogging as those for the younger grades.

  3. Someone INSISTENT that kids read half an hour a day IN the classroom! That's absolutely wonderful! I'm hoping you'll share your modified version of your Daily 5 (3). I would love to hear how you're doing it.

    1. I read aloud, have kids read to self, and do word work. No extended writing (someone else teaches that, which is a little weird, but it works) I use the CAFE model, and confer with most kids at least once a week. We come up with a reading challenge together, which next year, they're going to write in their Reading journal, so that they have it with them when we meet. This year, I was the "post-it note queen" and that worked okay, but didn't show kids their reading history, because they usually threw them away. I want them to see how far they've come!

  4. #truth #amen #preach I am SO impressed that your new literacy person is lobbying for in-class reading time. That is SPECTACULAR!!!!! Kids learn to love reading in our classes and must have time to practice. I, too, would love to learn more about your modified Daily 3! Thanks for linking up. :)

    1. I do love that she insists on that, although it took a bit of playing around to be able to fit it in, since we also use an anthology, and there are expectations about that, too. Next year we'll be using a new one, so I'm a little apprehensive about getting it all in, but I just figure we'll divebomb into the deep end of the pool. And hopefully come up swimming! As far as my Daily 3 - I read aloud, have kids read to self, and do word work, which fits in with the CAFE model too, which I use. I use the Reading Olympians program - started it last year and the kids loved it! No more spelling lists because I'm tired of insisting that kids memorize lists of words that aren't connected to anything. So far they're letting me do that. Then, when kids are reading to themselves, I walk around and confer with them. I'm able to do that so much more than I used to, and so it's easy to figure out who's fake reading, who's reading too much above or below where I think they should be, and just generally explore books with kids. Next year, when they find a spot where they want to read, they'll take their book and a reading journal, where we'll work together to set challenges (both time and from the CAFE list). It's been a journey, and we're moving along!

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