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The Importance of Choice Reading by Dina Laskowski

01 Sep 2015 8:00 AM | Becky Taylor (Administrator)


This last spring our local reading council, Prairie Reading Council, did a book study on The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. The author is a 6th grade teacher that darned to set a high bar for her students to engage in reading, love reading, and challenge them to read more, 40 books a year more! Her 40 book requirement also includes varied genre. As educators we know the more you read the more insights, practice, and background knowledge you have.

As educators we are bombarded with performance standards and assessment goals that we fail to see that lifelong learners are nurtured in reading and not over skilled to the point that reading is killed for the student rather than enriched. Donalyn Miller allows students to choose what they read and helps them set a goal for themselves to focus upon their interests and independent reading. She reverses the order of using books that students select so she also meets the instructional goals. Her use of Interest Surveys to allow students to communicate with their teacher. The students’ interests assists the teacher to help them make decisions about what books they would like pursue to read. She follows key components of A Reading Workshop approach (Nancy Atwells, 1998.) She also gives her students permission to decide which books they want to read for the year.

When you stop to think about making choices and getting your pick of what you want to do in life, whether it is the food you eat, the outfits your wear, where you live, and what article you read in the newspaper. If you have a vested interest to make the decision it is a powerful means to feeling autonomous and liberated. Reading more allows for more practice and understanding. As an educator giving students an opportunity to make a choice is a very collaborative exercise in decision making and very effective.

Freedom is what our country was founded upon and allowing that freedom with reading choices truly allows for a positive, respectful, and responsible attitude toward becoming a lifelong reader and learner.

This last spring our local reading council, Prairie Reading Council, did a book study on The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. The author is a 6th grade teacher that darned to set a high bar for her students to engage in reading, love reading, and challenge them to read more, 40 books a year more! Her 40 book requirement also includes varied genre. As educators we know the more you read the more insights, practice, and background knowledge you have.

As educators we are bombarded with performance standards and assessment goals that we fail to see that lifelong learners are nurtured in reading and not over skilled to the point that reading is killed for the student rather than enriched. Donalyn Miller allows students to choose what they read and helps them set a goal for themselves to focus upon their interests and independent reading. She reverses the order of using books that students select so she also meets the instructional goals. Her use of Interest Surveys to allow students to communicate with their teacher. The students’ interests assists the teacher to help them make decisions about what books they would like pursue to read. She follows key components of A Reading Workshop approach (Nancy Atwells, 1998.) She also gives her students permission to decide which books they want to read for the year.

When you stop to think about making choices and getting your pick of what you want to do in life, whether it is the food you eat, the outfits your wear, where you live, and what article you read in the newspaper. If you have a vested interest to make the decision it is a powerful means to feeling autonomous and liberated. Reading more allows for more practice and understanding. As an educator giving students an opportunity to make a choice is a very collaborative exercise in decision making and very effective.

Freedom is what our country was founded upon and allowing that freedom with reading choices truly allows for a positive, respectful, and responsible attitude toward becoming a lifelong reader and learner.


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