I recently ordered (and very recently finished reading) The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller. I first became aware of this book when Nicole from Journey to Excellence blogged about it over the summer. My youngest son (6 years old) is an emerging reader, and my oldest son (almost 10 years old) is a very gifted reader. However, my oldest generally prefers to read only non-fiction. While I'm happy that he is so eager to devour any and all information he can glean from non-fiction texts, as a book-lover, I really want to try to nurture his love for literature during our homeschool time together.
Although this book is written by a classroom teacher and is intended primarily (I assume) for a classroom teacher audience, I really found it full of food for thought as I plan for our reading together this year. A few points that hit home with me as a homeschool mama are:
1.) Requiring children to only read books that we adults choose for them can kill their love of reading. Miller requires her sixth grade language art students to read 40 books each year and also has genre requirements; however, her students have a great deal of freedom to choose which books they will read. This makes me determined to find a genre that my oldest son can connect with and (hopefully) grow to love. I was the girl who nearly always had her nose in a book all the way from late elementary on.
2.) Requiring children to do a lot of "busywork" or to complete a lot of assigned activities for each book they read can kill their love of reading. I completely get Miller's point about this. It's a bit of a hard one for me because as a former public school teacher, I love the idea of doing a bunch of fun little "projects" to go along with the books we read. However, if I look at it from my own perspective as a reader, I would be much less inclined to read on my own if I had to complete a bunch of work for each book. So it totally makes sense.
3.) More than anything our goal should be to instill a life-long love of reading in our children. This is more important than skills or tests. I can completely embrace this. I do want my children to love books as much as I do.
I really recommend this book whether you are a classroom teacher, a homeschool mama, or just a lover of books. It gives a lot of great insight and (for those of you who love data) the philosophy put forth by Ms. Miller is supported by decades of research in best practices for reading instruction.
Have any of you read this book? If so, what did you think?