Thursday, July 17, 2014

Reading in the Wild: Sharing Books and Reading Together

I looove Donalyn Miller’s newest book, Reading in the Wild! Reading it & highlighting & tabbing pages is getting me so motivated to intentionally rethink my independent reading for this coming year!! Click here to join the reading party over at The Brownbag Teacher!!

This week’s chapter (Chapter 3) focused on sharing books & reading with other readers. Ms. Miller emphasizes the importance of creating a community of readers, both at home and at school. She has many great ideas for how to involve parents & students in reading. She also lists many online sources for students to share their book recommendations & to get suggestions for new books!

Reading graffiti is a wall covered in black butcher paper in Ms. Miller’s classroom where students write in gold marker, sharing any lines from their books that stood out to them. I love this idea! In my class, I encourage my students to value and appreciate language by collecting “language jewels”; phrases and lines that are so descriptive the reader can feel and picture it. In the past, we’ve posted these language jewels on sentence strips in pocket charts or on written charts. This year, I’m devoting a large space on my wall to a treasure chest labeled “Language Jewels”; students will write favorite phrases and lines from books onto post-its to add them to our treasure chest of words!

Students always get excited to share books and give recommendations! We keep a wall of book recommendations (organized by students) and they love doing short book talks! I love how Courtney & Sarah over at Hoots n Hollers take this a step further by recording book talks & making them into audio QR code books talks!! What a great reference for students!

My students also go all-out for Book Character Day!! Each student dresses like his or her favorite character (& brings the book in a bag), then gives the class 3 clues about the character. After several guesses by classmates, the student confirms or denies the guesses. Then they share the book and introduce the character!


This week’s chapter focuses on how to build excitement for reading. A favorite activity to promote a love of reading is using fluency phones while reading to self or with others. Fluency phones are simple tools made of 2 pieces of elbow PVC and a connector piece. They are easy to make or you can buy them here. A student can use like a regular phone or twist the fluency phone so one end can go to one child’s mouth and the other end to a partner’s ear. They are so much fun to use and the really great benefit of reading with them is children MUST read at an “indoor” voice or it really blasts the listening ear. If reading to self this really helps children to listen to their own voice for APE (accuracy, pacing, expression).

Since my school has kindergarten through 8th grades, we do a lot of cross-age buddies. My 4th graders adore reading to their 2nd grade buddies, while our 7th grade buddies serve as role models for their 4th grade buddies! This is another good opportunity to practice reading aloud with APE (accuracy, pacing, expression)!!

We used to have an AMAZING teacher librarian (until budget cuts) and each year one of the best events to build a reading community was Battle of the Books. Students formed teams (communities) to read a specific list of books (over several months), then come together to demonstrate their abilities and test their knowledge of the books they have read. The competitions were a game show type of competition. Questions were asked about an event or character and teams had to name the book (and author for extra points). We always played Students vs. Teachers and it was guaranteed to be an exciting and heated event!! The students were always very prepared (they met each week with our teacher librarian to discuss and review books in detail), whereas the teachers always seemed to be cramming!! It was a wonderful community building & literacy event!!
One of our favorite activities is Flashlight Friday!! My class loves, loves, loves reading in the dark with flashlights!! We use flashlights from the Dollar Tree or sometimes change it up with laser light fingers!! Fun!! My students will sit completely silent, happily immersed in their books!! They’d read all afternoon, if time allowed! Read Head Over Heels for Teaching’s detailed post & explanation! Thanks for the idea, Joanne!
What do YOU do to get your students excited about reading? Please comment; I’d love to hear & see your ideas!

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