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The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child / Edition 1

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child / Edition 1

by Donalyn Miller, Jeff Anderson
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Donalyn Miller says she has yet to meet a child she couldn't turn into a reader. No matter how far behind Miller's students might be when they reach her 6th grade classroom, they end up reading an average of 40 to 50 books a year. Miller's unconventional approach dispenses with drills and worksheets that make reading a chore. Instead, she helps students navigate the world of literature and gives them time to read books they pick out themselves. Her love of books and teaching is both infectious and inspiring. The book includes a dynamite list of recommended "kid lit" that helps parents and teachers find the books that students really like to read.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780470372272
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 03/16/2009
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 16,630
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Donalyn Miller teaches 6th grade language arts and social studies at Trinity Meadows Intermediate School in Keller, Texas. She also writes an ongoing blog for The book is published in partnership with Education Week Press (

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Table of Contents

Foreword, by Jeff Anderson, author and literacy staff developer ix

Introduction 1

CHAPTER 1 There and Back Again 7

CHAPTER 2 Everybody Is a Reader 19


CHAPTER 3 There’s a Time and a Place 47

CHAPTER 4 Reading Freedom 69


CHAPTER 5 Walking the Walk 103

CHAPTER 6 Cutting the Teacher Strings 119


CHAPTER 7 Letting Go 159

Afterword, by Ron D. Myers, principal 179

Appendix A: The Care and Feeding of a Classroom Library 183

Appendix B: Ultimate Library List 193

Appendix C: Student Forms 201

References 213

Index 217

Acknowledgments 225

About the Author 228

About the Sponsor 228

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Miller provides many tips for teachers and parents and includes a useful list of ultimate reading suggestions picked by her students. This outstanding contribution to the literature is highly recommended for teachers, parents, and others serving young students." —-Library Journal Starred Review

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Book Whisperer 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 58 reviews.
two-five More than 1 year ago
I am usually frustrated with most books pertaining to my profession because they are not realistic. The authors seem to write books for a "Leave it to Beaver" classroom. In today's classroom we encounter children from very diverse households which mean we have to be diverse in our method of delivering information. This book is an inspiration to educators to open their minds and allow children to become active participants in their quest to become lifelong learners and readers. I love this book. It is a must read!!!!!
MinDallas More than 1 year ago
I love the strategy this teacher created. She rejects the traditional rote way of teaching reading/writing and inspires readers who will build self-esteem and be successful academically. She describes how she arrived at this strategy and offers practical examples to help teachers build a classroom to reach students in this way.
Mnloonsong More than 1 year ago
This is the best book I have ever read about teaching reading to kids. I have followed many of the suggestions in the book and my students are learning so much! I have been teaching for24 years and because of this book, I am the best reading teacher I have ever been!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a must read for everyone that has anything to do with education. The points that are brought up are right on - kids need to have the time and freedom to read what they would like to choose. While A.R. is a good program, I get frustrated by the limitations it puts on students and the books that they are "allowed" to read. If students and teachers stick to these guidelines, then they are missing out on some wonderful stories. There are creative ways, and Ms. Miller shares some, to ensure that students are able to comprehend what they are reading. I have shared this book and the ideas with many educators at our school, and at the district level. I thank you so much for sharing your love of reading with your students and all of us.
MarylandReader More than 1 year ago
Great book. I wish Ms. Miller could teach my kids. She has figured out how to differentiate and accommodate every kid in her class, something administrators in our district claim is impossible. Only complaint: I bought this as a Nook book and wasn't able to read the student's handwritten papers that are included as exhibits.
TNBookLady More than 1 year ago
Donalyn Miller is an advocate for middle schoolers so that they get reading time everyday. I loved the example of her class taking their books with them when they waited on line for school pictures to be taken. Why not! This book has refreshed my new year in our Montessori Library. We already were reading for fun, but now I'm going to track the increase in test scores that I bet has been happening in our school, because kids are over the moon excited about choosing a book each week in our library.
PJMO More than 1 year ago
Wow! This is a must read for all teachers, especially those teaching English and Communication Arts at the secondary level. It reads easily and quickly, but has so many wonderful ideas for helping students enjoy reading. It reaffirms my beliefs in students having choice in what they read, and that they have time to read independently. The focus is on real life reading, not just reading for school, developing life long readers. It is a tremendous book that would be a great book study for communities of learners.
herdingcats on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Throw away the reading logs, novel reading unit activities, and reading comprehension worksheets. Do not require your class to all read the same book at the same time. Forget book reports. Allow your students to read books that they want to read and they will become life-long readers and have higher reading comprehension test scores.The author of this book requires that her 6th grade students in a Texas school read 40 books in a school year - with a requirement that there be a certain number of books from selected genres. They do book commercials and write their own teasers for the books and communicate about their reading with the teacher through a journal and frequent book talks.The author shares her enthusiasm for reading with her students and they share their enjoyment of reading with one another. It sounds so wonderful! I really enjoyed this book! I think that the author is totally correct in her assertion that students should be allowed to read books of their own choice in reading class and should not have to answer meaningless questions about them and read class sets of novels that they may not be interested in. I taught middle school in Texas for 13 years. For the first 9 or so years, I taught reading - 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. I also taught some remedial classes for students who had failed the reading portion of the state test. I was successful. Those students all passed the test after my class except for one who raised his grade from a 27 to a 57, which is still pretty goood. But, I did it by drill and kill. I was not allowed to let my students just read books the way the author does. I had a certain number of worksheets that my students had to do each week and I had to document it. One year, I was told that I could not even assign reading for book reports until after the state test - in May. I finally begged to be allowed to teach social studies instead of reading. I taught that for a few years before quitting to stay home with my own children.I am currently substitute teaching in two Texas school districts. I was amazed that so much of the research that the author cited that proves that students need to read actual books to improve their reading skills is from from years and years ago, yet none of the schools that I have been in have ever allowed teachers to do what the author does in her classroom. The author repeatedly states that she is sad that other teachers don't encourage free choice reading the way that she does. I think that she is in a unique situation to be allowed to do that. Her situation works well also because she only has 55 students. In middle schools if Reading is taught as it's own class rather than as part of Integrated Language Arts, teachers have about 130 to 180 students. If it is taught as part of Integrated Language Arts, they have about 80 to 90 students or so. That makes it a bit more difficult to do some of the things she does.The author also has a huge classroom library of books that she has bought mostly with her own money. I used to do that too. It makes me sad to walk into a reading classroom that has very few or no books in it.I wish that principals, superintendants and curriculum planners would read this book. I think it would be fantastic if all reading classrooms were libraries where children could choose their own books to read and learn to love reading and share it with one another.
GaylDasherSmith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One teacher completely embraces the notion that the more children read, the better for them. She constructs her classroom and her day to encourage reading as much as possible. If only...
abbylibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Donalyn Miller is a sixth-grade language arts and social studies teacher in Texas. She inspires her students to read by offering them time to read during class, allowing them to choose their own books, and modeling her love of reading. Her dedication and the results she's seen with her students are inspiring. Although the book may have more practical advice for teachers, librarians will also find their batteries recharged after reading this book.
karriethelibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have always been a big believer that the traditional way of teaching literature/reading -- assigning books that kids should read, and then quiz the hell out of them or make them construct dioramas or do other projects that prove that they read the book -- is definitely not the way to instill a love of reading. What quicker way to turn a kid of than giving him vocabulary words from the books and make him them write down the definitions? Teachers suck the fun and joy out of reading. Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer gave me renewed joy for reading for pleasure and conviction to speak out about how important it is to let kids read for pleasure and fun. She points out all the obvious advantages -- which she needs to do because educators sometimes forget those obvious advantages, and then gives us guidance about how we can return the LOVE of reading to our students.I offer a middle school elective class that consists of kids coming into the library, finding a comfy place to sit so they can read for 40 minutes -- uninterrupted and not questioned. They read what they want for how long they want. If they want to abandon a book and pick up something else, they are welcome to do so. If they want to pluck a book off the library shelves and look at the pictures, they are welcome to do so. When they leave the library, I say good bye and they go on with their day. I don't question them to make them prove that they have read. If they want to tell me what they are reading, I love hearing about it, but it's not required for my class. Sometimes in our society we tend to place negatives on the things we do for pleasure. Reading is among them -- if we're sitting in a comfy chair and read the day away, our societal mores tell us that we wasted the day because we didn't do something productive. I ask everyone, since when is reading -- which stimulates our brain, improves vocabulary and comprehension, and gives us knowledge -- unproductive. Thank you for Donalyn Miller for writing the book that gives us the freedom to read again.
MsCellophane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I want to run through the streets, tossing copies of this book at every teacher I know. "The Book Whisperer" is a wonderful exploration of why students in the U.S. are not becoming readers, and how to implement classroom practices that will lead kids to have a lifelong love of books.I wish I'd had the author for my sixth grade English teacher. Her anecdotes from her own class are engaging, and often quite funny (Though I won't say "compelling," ha ha). Drawing upon experience culled from her years of teaching, Miller makes a convincing case against the traditional Language Arts staples -- book reports, extensive test prep, reading logs -- in favour of having children read freely and extensively in the classroom. I know, I know, some of you may be dubious. Read the book. It's well-rated by almost every reviewer for a reason.
jasminemarie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. It was on my to-read list for the longest time and once the school year ended in June, I finally had the time and energy to read teaching-related books. I initially borrowed this book for our local library, but immediately purchased it after I finished it (in one evening) so I that I could have my own copy to write in and plaster with post-its.This book was everything I was hoping for and more. This is the book I wish I was around when I first started teaching. It is no secret that I love reading and have loved reading for as far back as I can remember. One of the reasons I became a teacher was because I wanted to share my love reading with kids and instill that same love of reading within them. Even though I think I've done a decent job of sharing that with my students over the years with various things that I've implemented in my classroom, I loved that this book gave me practical ideas that would be easy to introduce in my classroom right away.The hardest thing about being a teacher nowadays is the pressure to perform on tests. It's all about the test scores and subsequently, what we know to be "good teaching" goes by the wayside because there really isn't any time to do it. About a year ago, I was almost at the end of the year and realized that I just did not like teaching reading anymore. I dreaded that part of the day because it was so dull to me. It was all about reading passages and answering test questions. No wonder they were bored, I WAS BORED! My grade-level and I had a deep discussion about it and we decided we need to do read-alouds again, not because we wanted to teach some standard or whatever, but just to enjoy the act of reading and sharing a story together. Go figure.I devoured this book in one evening and then promptly raved all about it on my facebook to share with my fellow colleagues and teacher friends. I feel like it started a little "Book Whisperer" revolution amongst my closest teacher friends and several of them bought, read and also implemented ideas from the book as well. My grade-level team also read the book and we started off this school year with a mutual enthusiasm to create lifelong readers in our students.My students plowed through the book tubs full of books from my classroom library on the first day of school. We all read together and it started my year on the right foot with reading at the core of my mornings. They are currently deeply into their 40 book challenge this year (and beating my measly 8 books) and on fire with the number of books they are reading. We have book commercials on Fridays and I love seeing how many of them are reading books that their peers have recommended. Even though sometimes I curse myself for doing them because they take up a lot of time each evening, my students and I converse once a week with letters that we write back and forth to each other in their reader's notebooks. I really know my students as readers. They come to me asking for recommendations and it delights my heart when they dig through my classroom library each day looking for their next favorite book.Thank you, Donalyn Miller, for helping me to create the classroom of readers that I always dreamed of.Overall:It was an fantastic read and I highly recommend it to teachers who love reading and want to create a classroom of lifelong readers. While it shared some theory and education philosophies, it definitely provided a lot of practical tips and ideas that were easy to implement into my classroom. The way Miller writes makes you feel like you're having coffee with an old friend. Her love of reading pours out of this book and it is so contagious, you can help but catch it and want to pass it on. Get this book now, you won't be disappointed!
celerydog on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Common sense approach to building "readers for life" by making reading the heart of the English/language arts curriculum AND, most importantly, allowing kids to read in class and supporting their reading with a genre-sorted , wide-ranging, in-class library. Inspirational stuff, delivered in a highly readable book, full of practical advice and cross-referenced to supporting research.
danamrobinson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think this book is wonderful. There are so many suggestions in here that I want to implement in my future classroom. I especially love the student created Ultimate Library List found at the end of the text.
ChristianR on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved the philosophy of this book, and I have no doubt that the concepts outlined in the book are highly effective. Donalyn Miller, the author, tells how she runs her 6th grade classroom with the clear goal of creating lifelong readers. To do so, she has rejected many of the teaching concepts that rule in the classroom. She expects them to read 40 or more books throughout the year, and encourages this by providing a significant chunk of reading time in the classroom every day. She has stocked her classroom with hundreds of books, organized by genre, and the kids choose which books they will read. Her numerous techniques all make sense (no boring book reports) and her success is backed up by the consistently high results of her students when they take their state tests at the end of the year. Best of all, her students across the board learn to love reading and most achieve the 40 book goal for the year. I highly recommend this book.
Turrean on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Recommending this one to our reading teachers.
asomers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book has made me rethink everything I have done to promote reading for the passed 15 years. Ms. Miller has made a very powerful case for choice in reading instruction. As a school media specialist, I know I will be making some changes to my program.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book! Has changed the way I teach reading!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm Allison, an OSU Comp Student in my spring semester of 2014. The Book Whisperer is a must read for any teacher whether elementary, high school, or even college professor. In this book Donalyn Miller expresses the importance of reading and the effects it has on children. It shows how just by letting children spend more time reading in class, they can and most likely will improve in all areas of academics. Donalyn Miller experiments with this new method of teaching and finds that children learn to love reading and also score just as high on standardized testing as other students without the stressful prep work that other teachers force onto their students. In this book Miller describes how she arrived at this strategy and offers examples and proof to help teachers construct their classrooms to reach students in this way. While I am not yet a teacher, by reading this book I got all the insight I needed to know the way I will teach my classroom. This book is by far the easiest to understand and most helpful book I have found that pertains to my profession. I recommend this book to all teachers or even parents interested in their children’s academics.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wished she had provided more concrete examples of "how to." I understand the why. I need more specifics on the "how to." Wished it was written more like Nancy Atwell.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago