Book Whisperer Book Study-Ch. 4

This book is one of the BEST I have ever read-TWICE! Yes, I read The Book Whisperer last year and have read it again! Our book study, however, is on chapter 4 this week: “Reading Freedom”. Hmmm, freedom, that is a term that you don’t hear too much of in the classrooms nowadays with all of the mandated “research based” scripted programs that are thrown at us. I, however, think that the states/nation need to start looking at “teacher research based” structures because that is where the true EVIDENCE is! πŸ™‚

Donalyn Miller, the author of The Book Whisperer,Β is a dynamic 6th grade teacher who practices this reading freedom in her classroom each day. Choice is what it is all about!

I have to admit that last year (my first year in 6th grade with a mandated reading program) I did require the 40 book requirement and the genre requirement that Ch. 4 discusses, but I didn’t keep a check on it like I should have! I also didn’t give my students enough time to read EVERYDAY in the classroom so I only had 4 students who met the requirement out of 38!!! I was so disappointed, but now looking back at it I should just be disappointed in myself. You have to admit, most 6th graders are not lovers of reading by the time they reach me. In fact they are sick of it, and some even downright hate it! Sigh….. One thing that I DID do that really worked was to NOT implement the AR programs that the other teachers require. I told my kids they could read ANYTHING they wanted to-picture books, books below their grade level, books above their grade level. The restriction for that was that if the book was less than 40 pages they would have to read 5 of them to count as 1 book, while at the same time if the book was more than 250 pages it would count as 2 books.

The freedom of letting them read anything they wanted to did result in a few of my boys falling in love with a couple of books-Sounder, Hatchet, and Where the Red Fern Grows. I was extremely happy about that! πŸ™‚

Rolling along to this upcoming year here is what I plan on doing:

1. Allow time for independent reading EACH day-I am going to implement The Daily 5 and CAFE this year so the kids will have plenty of time to read while I work with small groups and confer individually.

2. Encourage students to read during any downtime(in line and all waiting events)– They already do this when they finish with something before other students finish, but I am going to take it to the next level!

3. Create “rights of readers” list with the kids– My kids were astonished last year when I said-If you don’t like a book and just can’t get into it-TURN IT IN! They couldn’t believe that I had done that before and was giving them the “reading freedom” to do that! πŸ™‚

4. 40 Book Requirement– I am going to require this again (with PLENTY of time to read in class). I am going to also let them know that I will be doing the 40 book requirement as well along with them. I am even going to keep my own notebook and do EVERYTHING that I require them to do with this requirement: reading log, genre tally sheet, response letters. What do you think they are going to say about this???? πŸ™‚

5. Give them a genre requirement– I am going to alter Donalyn’s genre requirement a bit since poetry is not all over our state standards. Here is what my genre requirement will look like (I think). πŸ™‚



Informational-2(They will probably meet this requirement by reading mostly children’s literature picture books so 10 of these will Β  Β  Β  Β meet the 2 required)

Traditional literature-2


Science Fiction-2


Historical fiction-3

Realistic fiction-5


Books recommended by friends-2

Choice- 14

6. Really have my kids study the genre characteristics– Donalyn does several things that expose her kids to different genres and teaches them the genre characteristics-check out pages 92-93 for her genre note sheet.


This chapter really hits the mark on “reading freedom” which is the backbone of getting the kids to read more, read often, and LOVE reading! I can’t wait to get to the next chapter (for the 3rd time :)) on the reading notebooks.

Book Challenge-Book#33


OK-Now that I have that out of the way, I can tell you a little bit about the book! I read this book last year, joined a book study on it this summer where we are reading a couple of chapters each week, and HAVE READ THE ENTIRE BOOK AGAIN!!!!!! It is so practical for the classroom. Donalyn is a 6th grade teacher who loves to read and instills that love for reading in her students each year. I really can’t say enough good things about this book-it is one of those books that you just have to read in your lifetime!

Go ahead and click on the picture above, buy you a copy, start reading, and jump into our book study!

If you want to join the book study all you have to do is go to this blogΒΒ , start reading the posts about the book, and jump into the conversation! Lots of teachers involved in this book study are posting their reflections to the book and samples of what they are going to be implementing in their classrooms! πŸ™‚


Reading Interest Survey

Sorry this is so late in the week-I just got back from Chicago Wednesday night and am STILL trying to catch up!

I hosted the book study this week of Donalyn Miller’s The Book Whisperer which was about student surveys.

Reading surveys/interest surveys help you get to know your students which in turn leads to more effective instruction. The idea is to take these surveys and comb through them thoroughly to be able to better match your students with appropriate books. I love this quote from Donalyn’s book:

“I mine these surveys for nuggets of information that will form the basis for book recommendations.”

And, she doesn’t just read the surveys and commit them to memory. She actually pulls the books from her classroom library and makes a stack for each student. YES, SHE DOES! Books for her morning class go on their desks-books for her afternoon class have their own place on the floor with sticky notes and names.

I have created my own interest survey for my 6th graders-it’s a revised version from Donalyn’s in The Book Whisperer and Nancie Atwell’s The Reading Zone. I can’t wait to see the results and have a book party with my students in August!

I am uploading a word version and a pdf version so you can choose which one you want! HAPPY SURVEYING!

Interest Survey WORD

Interest Survey PDF


The Book Whisperer Read Along-Student Surveys

Hey ya’ll! I am hosting the “Whisper” about student surveys in Donalyn Miller’s book-The Book Whisperer. Isn’t this book a true motivator to make us step back, look at our teaching practice for reading, reflect, and MAKE CHANGES???? πŸ™‚

Last year was my 1st year teaching 6th grade reading/language arts, and I did not give my 6th graders a survey about their reading-however, I did give them one at the end of their 5th grade year when I found out I was going to be teaching 6th grade. I read them, and read them again, to find out about my upcoming students. BUT, I didn’t do much more with them after that. THIS WILL CHANGE!!!

After reading Donalyn’s book, my plans on using student surveys will be more aligned with what she does. It seems like the best way to find out LOTS of information in about 15 minutes for EACH child!

I have not had the time to create my own student survey to use in my classroom (I will not be home from Chicago until July 7th), but I hope to post one on my blog for viewing by this Friday! πŸ™‚ Do you have a favorite survey that you have created that you want to share? Please post a comment about it with a link to your blog so that we can all learn from each other!

I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s thoughts! πŸ™‚