Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Reading in the Wild - #cyberPD Part 3

Wow! This event has simply flown by! It's hard to believe that today is our final day for posting reflections. Be sure to head over to Michelle Nero's blog Literacy Learning Zone to link up your post! And we hope you'll join us next week as Donalyn joins in the conversation for a live Twitter chat at 7 p.m. CST. We'll use the #cyberPD hashtag for the chat.

My Thoughts

"Sometimes, you read a book so special that you want to carry it around for months after you've finished just to stay near it." ~Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Wild Readers Show Preferences
My reading tastes are constantly changing. Yes - I do have my favorite genres and authors. But I've found that as my life changes, so do my reading preferences. There was a time when I wasn't able to travel much, so I lived my adventures through travel narratives. Lots of them. I was in a reading funk for a while... and then I discovered paranormal romances. Quality literature? Some of it. Did it pull me in as a reader? Absolutely. I read just about every vampire, werewolf, werecat, and draki book I could get my hands on! Nowadays, I find myself reading as many middle grade novels as I can so that I am a better member of my 4th graders' reading community.

On page 166, Donalyn reveals the preferences that students in her classroom identified. My 4th graders definitely echoed those preferences as well! By far, the most popular genre for my readers this year was fantasy. I found myself searching (and buying) more new fantasy books more than anything else, except possibly graphic novels. Pages 171-175 were particularly of interest to me! Graphic novels are often discounted as "fluff reading," but they are oftentimes more difficult to truly understand and grasp. Readers must really pay attention to every detail included in the pictures, as well as understand the importance of dialogue. I've found myself turning to graphic novels (both with first graders and now fourth graders) when I'm trying to hook a reader. Because kids see the comic-type format, graphic novels appear to be less intimidating. This past year, my kids devoured the Amulet series!

Another target area for me this year will be nonfiction. I am positive that many of my readers would echo Ashley's feelings about nonfiction being all about dead presidents and whales! Looking back, I can count only a small handful of times I book-talked a nonfiction book or expressed my excitement over an informational text I'd read. I'm consciously aware that I need to fix this! The same goes for poetry.

I wrote a little about the 40 Book Challenge in a post last summer, but I've really been rethinking a lot about the freedom I gave my kids this year. I didn't have any genre requirements for them, but I did give some suggestions. After rereading Donalyn's thoughts about the 40 book challenge in this chapter, I'm almost positive I need to stick with the 40 books but give some genre requirements. I keep going back to this sentence, "The main reason Susie and I expect students to try a little bit of everything is so that they can find what they like to read." Makes so much sense!!

So, I started making a list of all of the forms I loved from the appendices... and then I realized I was pretty much writing every form down. I think the genre graph, reading list, and reading itineraries will be especially helpful in teaching readers about their reading habits and preferences. I'm very curious to see how my new readers would answer the Wild Reader survey!! And then I started reading Appendix E and forced myself to stop when I realized I had already added more than 10 books to my online shopping cart. Spectacular lists of books!!

One more thing...
When I first got my copy of the book back in November, I expressed my excitement on Twitter. Donalyn quickly replied and told me I might want to look at page 255. I was absolutely stunned and honored to see my name listed. Donalyn has impacted my teaching in so many ways! I consider myself very blessed to be able to spend time with her a few times a year in real life, as well as connecting on Twitter. Our conversations always inspire me and are filled with laughter!

Nerdy Book Club fun at MRA, 2014

The Conversation Continues...
Today - Be sure to add your own link on Michelle's Literacy Learning Zone blog!
July 30 - 7 p.m. Live Twitter chat with Donalyn (co-hosted my Cathy, Michelle, and me!)


  1. I didn't get to this in time to participate in this #cyberPD, but I definitely want to reread this book before school starts. I think the idea of requiring kids to do a little bit of everything in their reading makes sense because they might find that they like something they didn't think they would like. Thank you for sharing information about the Twitter chat. I am going to get that on my calendar.

    1. Andrea,
      I love that you are participating via the comments!! I'll look forward to hearing more from you during the Twitter chat. :)

  2. I have never had a book or genre requirement, though the reading framework my district uses encourages students to read in many different genres. However, I rarely emphasize these genre "suggestions." After reading Donalyn's book and realizing the importance of ensuring students read widely so that they know what they like and what they don't like, I will definitely be implementing the 40 book challenge with genre requirements!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    1. Stephanie,
      Yes, I was torn about the genre suggestions, too, but after rereading this book, I know it's the right thing to do. There will still be plenty of choice involved, which is very important to me. I'll be excited to connect with you during the school year to compare notes!

  3. I saw your name on page 255 of Reading in the Wild and I was so excited but not surprised. I am already aware of your love for books and reading:) I think it's great that one of your target areas is nonfiction. My first graders are naturally drawn to nonfiction texts but I can see how students move away from this genre in the upper graders. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights.

    1. Val,
      My first graders were drawn to nonfiction, too, but unless my 4th graders had a specific area of interest, they tended to avoid nonfiction. It's definitely something I'll work on this year!

  4. Laura,

    Oh, I need to step up the nonfiction book sharing as well! And said it right: we also need to get excited about nonfiction too! It's definitely not a preference of mine, yet I can't let my biases get in the way of my readers!

    I'm also in agreement with you about the book challenge and seeing some genre guidelines. Our students need that challenge to taste all types of books because otherwise they won't ... just like us. If I don't challenge myself to read more nonfiction or set a goal to read so many NF books this year, I won't. And one nonfiction book written by one author may be so different than another nonfiction book written by another author -- we have to give our readers variety! We just never know what they will devour!

    How cool is that to be mentioned in a book by an author we all admire?!? Hey, that's a great "truth" in that game that I detest ... two truths and a lie. "Yeah, my name is included in the acknowledgment section of a famous author." :)

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts! I always appreciate your honesty of what's happening in your classroom and what you are already thinking about changing. I look forward to continuing the conversations after school begins! It will be exciting to see how all these new wild reading ideas shape our classrooms in the fall!