Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Book Whisperer Project

   I just finished reading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller.  I must say it certainly didn't take me long to read.  This book has made me rethink how I will teach language arts next year.  The overall idea of the book is that students should be given time to read what they choose to read and teachers should be passionate about helping them find good books to read.  This past school year I tried to find whole class novels that I thought the majority of the class would enjoy reading but I always knew it was impossible to find something that sixty students are going to all enjoy.  Now that this book has given me the encouragement to teach language arts in a different way I have to decide exactly how I want to run my classroom next year.  Here are some things I have to ponder throughout the summer:

1. How will I set up my classroom library?

2.  Will I set up a classroom library checkout system?

3.  How will my readers notebook look?

4.  What requirements will I set up to assess that my students are growing as readers?

5.  Will I stick to the 40 book goal Miller suggests in her book?

6.  How much time will I give students to read in class?

7.  How will I continue to address the common core while allowing students to read what they want?

     The great thing about my school is that teachers are given a lot of freedom to teach how they want as long as they are following the common core standards.  There are no novel requirements, however most teachers in my school teach using whole class novels.  For some, they have great test scores using this strategy. However, I really want to foster a lifelong love of reading in my students so I'm going to give The Book Whisperer movement a try.

     I'm sure there are many other teachers out there planning on trying this next year as well.  I'd love for us to get together and feed ideas off of us other as to how we plan on setting up for the new year.  It would also be fun to keep in contact with each other as our school year progresses to learn from each other what works and what doesn't. 

     If you are interested in collaborating please comment on this post and include a link to your blog or a way I can contact you.  Once several have commented I will put together a live chat session where we can start planning together. Please note that this isn't a book study I am trying to start. I believe another blog is doing that.  This is just a way for everyone to discuss with each other how they plan on revamping their classrooms. I'm hoping that we can also remain in contact with each other to see how it is going.  Feel free to add this button to your blog if you are interested!


  1. Hi Jamie,
    Would you go back and link up on my blog? I realized - when I was out running errands - that I completely forgot to add the linky button.

    I'm eager to hear what folks are doing. Here's what I've been doing for a couple of years now, and these ideas were reaffirmed by reading this book.

    My classroom library is set up by genre. I think kids fall in love with an author or a genre and they don't want to have to search high and low to find a similar book. Some years ago, teachers were required to level books, but I never have. I don't think it's fair - some days I read hard books and some days I just want to have fun. The same should be true for kids.

    The other thing I do is have kids fill out a reading survey at the beginning of the year. What I had was good when I only had one class, but now that we're teams of three (so about 80 kids) it's too long. I'm going to tweak it a little, maybe adding a question from the one that Donalynn uses.

    And finally, I have students keep a log of all the books they've tried - those they've finished and those they quit. It's helpful for them to get a sense of what they like and what they don't and it helps me guide them when they're looking for a good book. And then, at the end of the year, we count how many books we've read!

    I'm requiring my students to read 25 books this year. 40 sounds a little too high since we do have an anthology that we use. But I will give my students 20 minutes a day to read in class, regardless.

    I could go on and on, but this is clearly enough! Let's keep talking!

  2. Would love to chat about things we are going to do in our classroom this year as a result of The Book Whisperer!!! :)


  3. I would be interested in chatting about classroom strategies related to The Book Whisperer!


  4. 1. I setup my classroom library by genre. I've thought about alphabetizing it like the school's library but realized that kids don't know who the author is. They're more interested in the genre.
    2. I've tried lots of different ways to check out books. This past year I used Book Source's Classroom Organizer. It's a web based check out and there's an app for your phone too. The kids choose their name and check out the book and return the book online or from the app. Once all your books are scanned and you've entered the kids in it's super simple to use. It also allows you to pull reports to see who has books out and what they've checked out during the year. There's tons of options. It's worked really well and I no longer have the headache of dealing with index cards or papers.
    3. Our district wants us to use technology. I started my kids on blogs last year as their Reader's/Writer's Notebooks. We used kidblogs. They wrote reflections, responses, and were also able to comment on each other's writings. I felt like this was very successful and will be doing this again this year.
    4. I think conferences are powerful tools to see if students are growing as readers. Teachers know their kids. You've seen what they've been reading this year. You've talked to them. Informal conferences are the best way to see their reading growth.
    5. I would love to try for 40 books. I will be doing 25 books as that is what my district is working for.
    6. My class is a 45 minute class. I give them 10-15 minutes of class time to read silently every day.

  5. I tried a little bit of The Book Whisperer concepts. Most of my students loved having time to read, but there were always students that faked reading, or was disruptive in class during read to self time. Two of my students diligently kept their reading notebooks, and they loved the 40 book challenge. This year I'm going to frame my L.A. time in thirds like Donnalyn Miller suggests. 1/3 is SSR (10-15 minutes); 1/3 direct instruction (10-15 minutes); and 1/3 independent practice (10-15 minutes). I'll really have to motivate the kids during the first week of school and have them be hooked on reading so that we could do this challenge successfully. More importantly, I need to follow through and not to give it up. Try it for an entire school year.


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