The Book Whisperer: chapter 3

I just finished the first full week with my new kindergarten kids. 

I don't know who was more tired Friday afternoon, them or me!  We decided to be kind to each other, and spent a good portion of the afternoon outside playing in  a forested area of our school yard.  It was a good call; when they are bouncing off the walls, remove the walls.   

We are getting into the routine of daily reading.  The first day, there were a few kids who did not look overly impressed.  

Now I know which kids like snake books, which kids head for the shark books (every year, it's snakes and sharks!), who wants to reread the books that we have read together during the day, who wants a Pete the Cat book and who is going to read through our basket of class names.  

On Friday, I even caught a couple of boys poring over Mem Fox's Koala Lou during play time.  When they could have been playing with blocks/trains/playdough/art/animals - anything we have in the classroom. I kept my dance of jubilation inside, and played it cool. I am sure I fooled them. 

Onto chapter 3:  There's a Time and a Place
Miller writes that she  starts her classes with at least 15 minutes of free reading time.  And then she "steals" more reading time in all the interruptions during the school day and year.  Phone calls, knocks on the classroom door, waiting for the field trip bus, the dreaded photo day - all cues for Miller's students to grab whatever book they are reading and settle in until the interruption passes.

Miller knows that "no single literacy activity has a more positive effect of student comprehension vocabulary knowledge, spelling, writing ability, and overall academic achievement than free voluntary reading". (The Book Whisperer, p. 51)

Reading time is time well stolen.

In kindergarten, we have to steal the time together.  

The kids don't carry books with them where ever they go; the books would be littered all over the school, and my classroom library would decrease in size.  I don't want the kids searching for a book to read if the phone rings.  It would be so tough to get back to our initial task.  These kids are 5.  Very capable.  And very 5. 

But, we do read every day.  I read to them, and they read by themselves.  (Remember that in kindergarten, reading is reading the pictures, reading the words, or retelling the story.)

And we do steal our moments in our own way. Waiting in line - we might sing an alphabet song, or play rhyming words.   I might not let the kids cart books around the school in case we have to wait our turn to get into the gym.  But I might have a couple of books ready to read to them.  And picture day.  I endure picture day  - and hope that I can cajole some kind adult who is walking down the hall at the wrong right time to read 22 scattered 5 year olds a story or two while I convince kids to smile for the camera.

Miller does not believe in a dedicated reading corner in the classroom.  The whole classroom is used for reading.  

I take it a wee bit further.  I don't have a classroom library area.  There is a bookshelf by the carpet area where we meet together.  But there are also books by the science table.  And  a basket of books by a chair in the dramatic play area.  And more books by my beautiful new rug.  The whole classroom is a library.  

And we read where ever the mood strikes.  

During reading time, not only do the kids get to choose their books, they get to choose where to read.  We have a set of Walmart ($10 each, purchased by our parent group) bathmats that the kids can park where they choose in the classroom.  Instant soft and cosy, and space defining when they need to be.  

Sometimes the mood strikes us to read outside, 

or in the "house" area ...

Miller suggests that reading time is kept very quiet.  We call our reading time "quiet reading time", and I remind the kids to "use your whisper voice please".  But the reality is that they are retelling stories aloud, "reading" books to their friends and exclaiming to anyone who will listen about the gross snake teeth they just found in a book.  It's not quiet.  I will trade quiet for engagement.  And I will trade quiet for growing a love of books. 

Check out more great posts on chapter 3.

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  1. Isn't it great when kids choose to read at centre time? Hasn't happened in my room yet this year! Haha!

    1. It blew my mind when boys that I am usually reminding to make inside car/dinosaur noises and to remind that in our classrooms dinosaurs walk and that cars drive in first or second gear and chosen to read a book!

  2. I love reading your thoughts on the very same chapter I just read, but with a Kindergarten focus. It really reminds me of the reading journey kids go on. Thanks!

    1. I am finding the differing focuses from various grade levels interesting too.

  3. Loving your classroom pictures! It sounds like your students are really catching the reading bug! That's awesome! I can't wait to see it in my classroom :)

    1. We do our best to be infectious with that bug!!

  4. I enjoyed reading your post! I like how you incorporated what you do with your students with each chapter of the book. You have provided some wonderful ideas when it comes to reading with students. I will keep these ideas in mind and use them when I become a teacher!


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