Catching Readers Before They Fall: book study


chapters 4, 5 and 6
These chapters get us down to the classroom.  What does effective reading instruction look like and sound like in the classroom.  Down to earth, practical, how can I change things up on Monday morning kind of stuff.

what I loved
I am finding that I'm loving  the language that Johnson and Keier use.

They talk about "solving" words (p. 52).  Yes!   I love it.  That will become part of our learning to read language (along with spooky o's, noisy ee's ...).  I already tell the kidlets that they are word detectives - now they will be word detectives that solve words.  This is fun!

how I connect this learning to my teaching
Johnson and Keier remind us that "sounding out the word" is not the only option when a reader gets to a word s/he does not know.  Guilty as charged.  Way too often that is my response.  Detectives have more than one trick under their fedoras to solve words.  They can check for meaning - what would make sense.  They can check to see if it sounds right. AND they can check to see if it looks right (phonetics - sounding it out).  

The Chief Detective Inspector (me!) needs to model all of these sources of information about unknown words. Out loud.  I need to support the kidlets to be able to use all these tools, and learn to use them simultaneously and flexibly.

what I loved
More word love:  Readers need to ... live the life of a reader (p. 83).  Readers read all sorts of reading material - for all sorts of reasons.  Readers choose their own reading material.  Readers might discuss what they are reading with others, or they might not.  Readers might write about or be inspired to do an activity based on their reading, or they might not.  

how I connect this learning to my teaching
I think that it is ever so important for my kidlets to learn to love reading and books.  I could drill sight words into their brains, practice reading nonsense syllables all afternoon, have them able to recite that their voices go up when they see a question mark, small breath for a comma, bigger breath for a period. But if they learn that reading is boring, frustrating and without meaning in their lives, I haven't really achieved my goal.  I want my kidlets to "live the live of a reader". We are going to continue to make enjoying reading books for the sheer pleasure of it a priority. 

what I loved
Yet more word love - this time about books. 

Junko Yakota is quoted as saying that books are like "mirrors and windows" (p. 102); mirrors reflecting back to us who we are and windows looking out to communities and experiences other than our own.

Books need to be "felt" (p. 106)  when reading them aloud.  During her student teaching, Katie Keier was advised to "slow down and feel the story" by her mentor teacher.  

Being read to is a "birthright" (p. 106, quoted from Harste, 1992, p. 10)  in a  literate society.

how I connect this learning to my teaching
I'm thinking about mirrors and windows.  How much of our reading together is mirror-like and how much is looking out the window?  Another balance to keep in mind when choosing what to read.  

Reading to the kidlets is so much fun.  I love the voices, the change in cadence, building suspense up to an exciting moment, springing surprises on the kids, delighting in the sound and meter of language. I love sharing my passion for story.  And it's even more fun when they are part of the telling.

Even though sharing books is one of my favourite parts of the day, I find that too often, on of our story times gets cut short or skipped over because we run out of time. As a "birthright", story time requires a brighter priority.  

I don't have any pictures of me reading to the kidlets :(
looks like Grandpa is a good reader :)


  1. I love what you've shared. I want to create a detective like environment for my classroom next year. I always say that it's not what you know but that you know how to find it. Perhaps I need to go on VISTA print and get me a banner like that. Thanks for joining and being your usual wise, intelligent, connected self.

    First in Maine

  2. The authors are all about authentic reading. Sounds like you're doing the same! I love the grandpa pic!


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