Monday, November 30, 2009

The Reading Zone

Most Recently Read Book:

The Reading Zone

By Nancie Atwell

Nancie Atwell has pretty much been my idol since forever because she is all about reading and writing workshop. Having gone through middle school and high school with reading and writing workshop, I have always been a big supporter of reading and writing workshop. Believe it or not, I actually had a dream last night that I had a classful of lots of my former students and I was talking to them all about reading and getting them all excited about reading just like Atwell talks about in this book.

I have read lots of books about reading and promoting reading with students this year. This is another one that I definitely think every reading teacher should get their hands on...I even think any subject teacher should get their hands on this book actually. My philosophy about teaching reading to kids has evolved recently. I realize now, more than ever, that as a teacher, my main goal as far as reading goes, should be to get kids excited and motivated to read. Reading needs to be all about having fun and talking about books. I seriously cringe at reading logs and book projects. Honestly, the biggest thing I have taken away from the books I have read recently is that we should truly think about what we do as adult readers (and hopefully, if you are a teacher...any kind of are a reader). Do you sit down and write a summary of every chapter after you read it? Do you sit down and draw a picture to illustrate what you are visualizing when you are reading? Do you stop and fill out a venn diagram to compare the character in the book you are reading with another book you have read? Come on. I know you don't. Why? Because when you are reading, you're probably totally in the zone. As a good reader you probably apply all the great reading strategies that we teach kids about in school, but they happen so quickly and you don't let yourself get sidetracked thinking too much about the book. You're just in the zone. If you had to read a book and do a project all the time you probably wouldn't do it. So why do we make kids do it? Why? Why? That's right, it doesn't make sense.

As an adult I love to read books. I usually write up a basic review here on my blog...but that's just one way I share what I've read with others. Reading is very social. We need to get kids reading. Talk to them about books. Ask them to tell us about their favorite books. Atwell talks about asking kids to write letters every three weeks about their favorite book they have read in the last three weeks. Three weeks gives them lots of time to have read at least one whole book and to throroughly write a letter about the book. They can choose which book they want to write about and it's much more critical and closer to higher level writing (like high school or especially, college) which is what they need to be practicing and it tells so much more than a little box on a reading log.

Bravo, Nancie Atwell! This should be mandatory reading for every teacher! Down with reading logs!


Emily Jane said...

When I was younger I had a bunch of nerdy posters up in my room, one of them being a Star Trek one and one of them had Patrick Stewart holding a book and it had some caption about a love of reading - I loved it!

Kathy Lou said...

I love Nancy Atwell.

Jessica (BookLover) said...

Sounds great! I might have to pick up a copy for my sister-in-law (who just started teaching). :)


Laraf123 said...

You make some great points--really makes me think about recent and future assignments. Also, I think the photo chosen for the cover of this book is worth 1,000 words!