Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Book review: "The Book Whisperer"

I just finished "The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child" and it makes me want to not only soak up as many books as I can read, but also to grab a nearby child and book talk them into reading as many books as they can as well. It's obvious from this book that Miller is a lifelong reader who is passionate about convincing children to be the same. She is a sixth grade teacher whose classroom rivals the school library in diversity and size. She expects her kids to read 40 books during the year they are with her, and though some don't make it (the fewest any child has read over the year is 22 books) they usually end up reading MANY more books than they had the previous year. She dedicates 30 minutes per day to independent reading for her students, and spends the other 60 minutes of her period on instruction. If I could find one fault with her book it's that I wish she'd spent more time on describing the instruction that happens in her classroom during the 60 minutes her kids aren't reading. Perhaps she's leaving room to publish another book at a later point in time.

She does go into accountability measures she uses to track student reading, her requirements that students read a variety of genres, and how this devotion to reading translates into test scores (her students regularly do very well on the Texas high-stakes assessment). She also addresses many traditional practices such as round robin reading, incentive programs, and book reports, and I think she does a marvelous job of justifying why she doesn't do them and describing her alternatives instead.

This is a wonderful book, particularly for upper grades teachers who want insight into how workshop can look for their students. She writes in a very readable, convincing style. Now if she'll just come out with her sequel!

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