Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Study: Reading in the Wild... Reading PLANS

If you have read The Book Whisperer, you must now add Reading in the Wild to your Reading Plan. You won't be disappointed.

One of my favorite parts about summer vacation is the opportunity to just READ! So it is with "Wild Readers" as discussed in Donalyn Miller's latest book, Reading in the Wild. My BlogFriend, Catherine, The Brown Bag Teacher, is leading us through a Book Study of this wonderful book. You can check in with Catherine by clicking her button below.

Wild readers always have a pile of books close at hand. Here is the pile of books on my desk at the moment... and that is only one pile... I have a pile of books in every room!

Miller knows this about wild readers: They are always thinking ahead about the next book.

Miller notes that disengaged readers don't have a plan for future reading. And this chapter offers suggestions to help them develop reading plans that will reading a lifelong habit.

Wild readers tend to do things that ensure that their reading life is uninterrupted...

Additionally, wild readers think about their reading experiences and habits and identify areas they would like to improve or enrich. They set personal goals based on their own tastes and needs. They take ownership for their reading.

And this point was a cause for some serious reflection for me. In my efforts to "guide" readers in my classroom, I have not put them in charge. In most situations I have plotted a course for them--almost ensuring that they will not take the helm... and that their reading lives will stall when I step away. If they are going to become life-long readers, students must have the opportunity to control their own reading lives.

In order to encourage students to develop reading plans that they can truly own, Miller suggests that teachers encourage students to develop two types of reading plans: Commitment Plans and Challenge Plans.

Students must commit to reading every day and they need to have strategies to put into place when they sense that their commitment might be ebbing. "Without this personal commitment to reading, students remain dependent on outside forces that temporarily drive their reading habits such as classroom expectations for reading" (Miller, p.143). Guilty as charged! In my zeal to ensure that my sixth graders read widely and read extensively, I have often imparted the message that they are reading to satisfy either a classroom expectation or the classroom teacher. I am anxious to send a different message when school resumes in the fall!

To help students develop commitment plans, students can be encouraged to 1) Finding reading time every day, 2) Increase book completion and 3) Look for specific titles, authors, genres and series.

Miller offers a range of options for Challenge Plans, including 1) the Nerdbery Challenge (based on Newbery Award winners), the Book-a-Day Challenge and the Book Gap Challenge (based on books or genres that have been avoided). These challenges may inspire students to set and meet goals that they establish to improve their reading accomplishment and enjoyment.

Miller then promotes the idea of using classroom conversations and reading conferences to help students develop reading plans. Students can become "experts" on different authors or series, increasing students' confidence and diverting attention toward students' voices and away from the teacher's direction. She also suggests that having reluctant readers read books from a series may provide a "comfortable" reading experience because of the scaffolding that comes from reading previous titles in the series. Completing a series can also provide a sense of accomplishment which motivates further reading and, hopefully, spur students to venture beyond their comfort zone into new authors and titles.the

Reflection and resolution-making can further cement reading plans. Resolutions can be individual or public, but should always lead to students developing a plan or routine that extends outside the classroom. The chapter includes some ideas for launching summer reading--which makes me wish I had read the book before the school year ended. I can now plan for next June when I will send the students off to summer vacation with hopes that their reading commitment continues beyond the school year and the school building.
The chapter ends with a commentary about keeping track of your reading life. Again, the onus must be on the students. "Encouraging students to take responsibility for their reading plans reduces their dependence on teachers and parents for determining when, where and what students read" (Miller, p. 156). Encouraging students to keep a list of Books to Read helps promote their independent book selection and their confidence that they can direct their own reading lives. The goal is for students to develop plans that promote their continued reading and their continued enjoyment of reading.

How wonderful it is to read a book and have it impact your teaching life so directly! I am looking forward to helping students design reading plans to guide the course of their own reading life!

For another perspective on this chapter, sure to visit Crafting Connections where Deb has reflected on reading plans as well (Don't you just love that button?!)

Have you read been Reading in the Wild along with us? We hope that you will join in on the discussion and link up your reflections below!


  1. I am guilty of trying to plot the course for my students, too!! One thing I tend to do with my more reluctant readers is constantly try to tell them about books I think they will like (when the finish a previous book) because I want them to keep reading so much. This is probably okay at the beginning of the year, but I need to have them start self-selecting as the year progresses. Thanks for co-hosting with me!! :)

  2. Great information! I think I was born a wild reader:). My mom used to punish us by not taking us to the library; it was the worst! We lived at the library. One of the things I like about Read 180 is the independent reading and the choices they have in the library.


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