So I began sorting through some of the notes, cards, and writing from the past school year today. I came across some of my students’ 6 word memoirs regarding being able to choose for themselves every book they read this year:
Read with all of your freedom. – Haley
Reading whatever, whenever, is like flying. – Maddi
words, pages, chapters, books, series, Reading! – Cameron
Let reading rain all over you. – Sarah
Never stop the revolution of reading. – Belynda
Fiction and fantasy rule my world. – Chloe
They responded so intensely to this idea of choice. This was the first year that I was allowed to completely embrace Donalyn Miller’s (The Book Whisperer) philosophy to focus on student selected independent reading exclusively. Now we did read The Tiger Rising by the incomparable Kate DiCamillo together to start the year off right. We had to learn how to read as a writer so we could learn to write as a reader! What a difference it made to these students. They became readers right before our eyes! For some, it took a while to find that book, that one book, that made all the difference. One of my students, Sam, would keep me updated each week in his reading response letters as to his status as a ‘real reader’. It happened in February as he was reading The Hunger Games – he wrote, “…it finally happened, Mrs. McG.! I’m a real reader now!” Somehow matching the right book with the right person at the right time can allow that student to see what a book can do for your life…and then they’re hooked because they want that feeling again…that ‘I can’t stop reading now because I HAVE to find out what’s going to happen next” feeling that those of us who are already readers know very well.