Thursday, July 10, 2014

Reading in the Wild Ch. 1 & 2 (#cyberPD)

I am excited to participate in this year's #cyberPD conversation around Donalyn Miller's Reading in the Wild.  Thanks to Cathy Mere, Laura Komos, and Michelle Nero for hosting and facilitating!

Re-reading this text came at the perfect time for me.  I read Reading in the Wild when it first came out--pre-ordered and moved right to the top of my TBR pile!  But I've been thinking a lot about the habits I'm modeling and promoting in my own children, so I read it with a different lens this time.  I also had the opportunity to hear Donalyn speak at nErDcampMI earlier this week.

Thoughts from Chapter 1: Wild Readers Dedicate Time to Read
As a second grade teacher, there was NEVER a day that went by without my students reading.  NEVER.  I read everyday in some form, even if it is only reading blog posts while eating Cheerios and to my kids at night.  If I "had time" to read, I read professional books.  But, until about six months ago, I had gotten out of the habit of reading fiction books, unless they could be read aloud to my children (read as: picture books) or I had time to read an entire book in one sitting (read as: it never happened).  This chapter helped me to re-envision my reading time.  As Donalyn writes, "If I didn't make reading a priority, it would be easy to skip it."  So, I began to start reading on the edge and sneaking time to read.  A huge part of this was choosing to read fiction, instead of looking at Facebook, Pinterest, blogs, or other media.  And, of course, it worked its magic!  I have read more middle grade and young adult novels in 2014 than I have in seven years.  And the more I read, the more I want to read.  A colleague even asked me how I was able to read so much, and I shared the reading-in-the-edges strategy.

I am also becoming more intentional about modeling this for my children.  For example, when we go to the doctor's office, I tell each of the kids to grab a book.  We don't play games on the iPad/iPhone to entertain us.  We read.  Such a simple shift, but I think it's a really important one.  The kids and I each keep a book in the car for a "reading emergency" and we rack up a lot of reading time during these emergencies.

Thoughts from Chapter 2: Wild Readers Self-Select Reading Material
The children's department at our public library was recently remodeled to reflect a more open floor plan.  I'm a big fan, especially since Little C can now play Legos or blocks while Big B looks for books.  We no longer need to travel in a pack of three for me to keep my eyes on everyone.  It has also led to this observation...Big B needs to work on this.  I watched him wander the children's department only to come back with one Lego book.  The image of him wandering has bothered me ever since.  Where did I go wrong?  I think an unintentional consequence of having a mom who taught second grade for many years and LOVES books (especially picture books) is that his choices are always structured.  There's literally hundreds of picture books in our home, but I am the one ultimately curating our collection.  At the library and the bookstore, I am typically by his side to guide his choices.  (Helicopter mom, apparently, when it comes to book choice.)  I need to think more about how to show Big B to use multiple sources (not just Mom) to find out about books, starting with the tools available at our library.  In this chapter, Donalyn discusses preview stacks, and I also jotted down a note to myself about this during her keynote at nErDcamp.  This would narrow the choices, thus avoiding The Wanderer effect, but begin to develop his ability to make his book choices.

Next Steps
In the next few weeks of the summer, I picture us doing some binge reading together as a family.  Just sitting in bed in our jammies and spending the morning(s) reading.  I can't wait!  I also want to figure out an authentic way for Big B to keep track of his reading life.  I enjoy using Goodreads.  (And I almost did cartwheels in the middle of the store BookBug when I discovered the Scan feature.  I'm envisioning a technology component for him, but it needs to be authentic and he needs to own it.  (Maybe Big B will share my love of Google Forms!?!?) I think this will be springboard into noticing patterns in his reading and reflecting on preferences that he can use to self-select reading material.  

I am also mulling over how to share this information with parents in our community.  When we think about our students' reading lives, parents are a natural and powerful piece of this.  Perhaps a course through Community Education or our library.  Hmmm...more to come on this!



  1. Annie,

    I'm so glad that you decided to reread this book and join in the conversations! And lucky to hear Donalyn in the same week! What an experience!

    I love that even in your busy teacher-mom world, you applied the strategies and have evidence that it works! I am a reader, not as much as I want to, but balancing being a mom, wife, and teacher ... well, you know it's tricky! (I still sometimes choose Twitter and blogs first ...)

    I laughed out loud at your helicopter mom story at the library! I so bit my tongue at the books my girls were selecting ... but I did give them choice. And I still had a big pile I was bringing home too! Hmmm... and never did think about a preview stack for my girls. But knowing them (like me!) they would want them all!

    I've left several comments about the importance of teaching parents about the wild reading behaviors, habits and preferences! We need to create and plan together possible workshops to advise parents as they are the first teachers! I'd love to collaborate more on this ...

    Thanks for sharing your insights, especially through the lens of a teacher-mom! I love my little wild readers at home. Recently, my 4 yo said at the dinner table: "Books are like friends." So true, right?

    (I'm heading now to read your Nerdcamp gems! What a treat!)


    1. Annie and Michelle~
      I am so happy to see we are all thinking about how to educate our parents about reading in the edges and book selection. If we truly want our readers to learn to be life long readers and read in the edges won't this be OUTSIDE of our rooms? Parents are key! I am going to send you both a tweet so we (OK, I) can remember who's blog and who it was that I want to plan this with! Maybe a google chat!? Michelle, did you see others who wanted to work on this as well?
      Annie, in the spirit of thinking what reading in the edges and book selection outside of the classroom, I love that part of this post is from the perspective of a parent.