Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer’s Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits


This is the PERFECT book to read before going back to school because it made me so excited to start this new (to me and my students) approach! I absolutely loved this book.

I loved The Book Whisperer because I agree with Donalyn Miller’s thoughts on the importance of free choice in reading, but at times, I felt like I wasn’t sure exactly how to change everything and get started with this approach. I read The Book Whisperer then I read everything I could find online, and then I read Penny Kittle’s Book Love. After all that, I felt like I had a pretty good beginning and started to piece together plans for this upcoming year. I decided to order Reading in the Wild a couple of weeks ago and I’m so glad I did. This book of Donalyn’s gives so many ideas (and copies of the forms she uses) to put her ideas into use.

Here are a few (okay, it’s a lot, but I loved so much!) of the things I loved and want to use with my classes from Reading in the Wild:

  • time for reading daily and conferring with students about their reading (also in The Book Whisperer)
  • starting a discussion with students about reading outside of school and how to find small chunks of time in a busy schedule to read outside of school
  • observation forms for students avoiding reading during class reading time and how to approach them about it
  • student goal setting for reading (will be very different for each student)
  • reading notebooks to keep track of books finished, abandoned, books to read next, genres read, goals, etc.
  • reading responses of some kind–either letters in their notebooks or possibly using something like Edmodo
  • Status of the Class–this is an accountability tool Donalyn uses temporarily at the beginning of the year and after breaks to encourage students to do their reading–I love this!
  • read alouds daily–books, poems, short stories, articles, excerpts–it doesn’t have to be a whole novel that we are reading-it could just be a chapter then the book is up for check out by students who enjoyed it
  • Text We’ve Shared list posted in the classroom
  • voting for a favorite read aloud at the end of the year
  • book drawings if we get a new book everyone is excited about
  • preview stacks for students who need help choosing books
  • a “Reading Graffiti” Wall where students add any quotes they love from books they’re reading
  • book commercials
  • lots of reflecting on their personal reading lives: how they choose books, who influences book choices, reading ability, etc.
  • planning for reading over school breaks and ensuring students check out books and then reflecting on how their individual goals for the breaks went
  • encouraging personal book challenges
  • possibly a class blog for reviewing books
  • formal conferences with students once per grading period to fully reflect over their reading lives

I absolutely recommend this book to any ELA or reading teachers!


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