I can definitely identify with Donalyn Miller who said she thought she had prepared the most amazing book unit. It had everything; art projects, vocabulary, comprehension, character development, and all done in what she thought was fun and thoughtful ways using all the best practices she had experienced and had been taught. That was until her students showed up. I've been that teacher. It is disheartening when you struggle to get your students to love the book you are trying so hard teach. Like Donalyn I want my students to LOVE reading.
In Kindergarten we focus on words, on their letters and sounds. Word work is the mechanics of reading....phonics, alphabet, blending, figuring out meaning, and shades of meaning. All important...but not necessary for learning to love to read. In each grade we have a tendency to focus on the mechanics and as teachers we pick the books. But is that the best way?
I just had to ask myself; What do I like about reading? What do I, as a reader, do?
I love books with beautiful language. There is a poetry to just listening to the words. I love how they roll off the tounge (mostly the voice in my brain). I love the artwork of picture books...but if the story isn't good, I usually read it only once.
Because I love books this way...what do I do?
I like to talk about them.
I like to read with and to my friends.
I have stacks and stacks of books I want to read.
I am often reading more than one book at a time (although if I am into the story I read and read and don't do ANYTHING else)
I reread books I love.
I read a book that is easy if I loved it.
I slowly work my way through a difficult book if I really want to read it.
I quit a book I don't like.
I have tried a few of these with my students. I have begun the journey of using a Reading Workshop in my class.
I have LOTS of books. My kiddos love free reading time. They ask, "Can we read ANYTHING?" And of course they love to read with their friends.
One more thought from the last paragraph of this chapter...."Now I accept that I may never arrive at teaching paradise, but as long as I hold on to my love of books and show my students what it really means to live as a reader, I'll be a lot closer than I once was.