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#cyberPD: Reading in the Wild - Part 1

This summer a big (really BIG!) group of educators and wild readers are devouring Donalyn Miller's newest book.   I am participating in and co-hosting this year's #cyberPD event about cultivating wild readers in our classrooms.  Please join us as we read and discuss online:

Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer's Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits 
by Donalyn Miller with Susan Kelley

You can participate in the #cyberPD conversations this week too:
  • Share your thinking on your blog about chapters 1 and 2.  Then share your specific url link on Cathy's blog at Reflect and Refine.
  • No blog?  Leave your thoughts in the host's comment section on the blog.
  • Easily read through a compilation of all the #cyberPD posts on the                     Reading in the Wild #cyberPD 2014 Jog the Web

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"The pleasure of all reading is doubled when one lives 
with another who shares the same books"
 Teri Lesesne quoting Katherine Mansfield (Forward p.xiii)

My Thoughts and Reflections
Whoa - there was so much jam-packed into these first two chapters!  Many of Donalyn's ideas and research verified my beliefs about developing that love of reading and she also clarified so much for me too!  Simple changes, instant mini-lesson ideas, and possible conversations with readers that can easily be implemented next year.

Donalyn says it like it is:  In order to cultivate wild readers, you first must be a wild reader. Her definition of a wild reader:  "readers who incorporate reading into their personal identities to the degree that it weaves into their lives along with everything else that interests them" (p.3).  And I believe Teri Lesesne expressed the ultimate goal in the forward of this book:  
"The connections we make between book and book, between reader and reader, and between book and reader are perhaps the most important connections we as educators can make.  Helping students move from one book to the next and the next, especially helping them become more independent in the process, of knowing where to find more recommendations for books, ensures that their TBR lists and stacks of books grow, that a plan is in place" (Teri Lesesne, p.xiv).
Throughout the first two chapters, the theme of building independence and creating readers that choose and comprehend good fit books is evident in developing lifelong readers.  This is not easy in any classroom with so many other essential components, like CCSS, 21st century learning skills, and integrating technology.  It's a challenging task that is worth all the effort and it needs to start with primary students.  

Miller stresses the importance of creating a reading community that radiates positive shared reading experiences, and modeling and conferring in order to cultivate wild reading at an independent level. Miller provides many teaching points that stem from being observant and noticing students' reading behaviors, habits, and preferences. And the importance of just allowing TIME to read every day!

"In a classroom where there's a book for every reader 
and a reader for every book ...Donalyn Miller (p.61)

Implications in My Classroom
I am going to be honest here.  I'm a wanna-be-crazy-wild-reader.  Yes, I read.  I read a lot, but never as much as I want to!  (I easily related to the daily demands of life mentioned on page 7!) I am a reader when life allows me the guilty pleasure.  However, I have a confession to make:  I sometimes listen to my reading community and read books that are not appropriate for the developing readers that I want to share books with in my resource classroom.  I am easily swayed to check out a YA (young adult) or MG (middle grade) title that is clearly not a good fit for my developing readers at an elementary school.

I need to continue reading picture books (which I already adore!) and read more beginning readers and transitioning chapter books.  (Just not the same as the latest YA ...) One idea Donalyn suggested was to identify at least 5 touchstone authors my students should know (p.51).  I love that term -- touchstone authors "who appeal to your students, write many books, and provide children with stories and information they need for their life stage" (p.51).

I created this K-5 Touchstone Authors and Books to Know! Padlet for you to share your genius!  Please share your grade level and identify 1, 2 or even 5 authors or book titles to know, especially early readers and transitioning chapter books!  (Go on!  Share!  And thank you!)

I also know that I cannot alone cultivate wild readers in my small resource classroom on my own.   Cultivating a love of reading during a 40 minute intervention block with already developing readers just won't do it.  I need to collaborate with classroom teachers more and use Miller's research to help me guide my conversations about students and their newly acquired reading habits. Miller's words and research (specifically on page 10) is essential to the success of the students I work with daily: "Developing readers need more reading, not less" (p. 10).  I need to think more about mini-lessons and conversations with students about:
  • fake reading
  • abandoning books
  • time reading in school (reading avoidance)
  • awareness of reading behaviors, habits, and preferences
  • offering book stacks
  • asking students "What was the last book you finished that you really liked?" (p.73)
In addition, I exhibit many wild reading behaviors and strategies ... yet, I need to be more explicit in my sharing with my students in my classroom.  Perhaps I need to fully implement utilizing a reader's notebook with my developing readers to capture reading behaviors, habits and preferences.  Just one thought, but I struggle with time and not wanting to create more stress around reading ... a task that is already mentally and emotionally difficult for many of my students.  Which takes me back to where I started my thinking: I need to collaborate with classroom teachers more.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read and share your voice!

"All wild reading habits hinge on how much time readers invest in reading.  
Show students hot to incorporate daily reading into their lives sets them 
on the path to wild reading and gives them the practice they need to 
internalize the other habits.Donalyn Miller (p.36)

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#cyberPD 2014: Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller (@donalynbooks)

July 9th   Chapters 1-2 Hosted by Cathy Mere at Reflect and Refine
July 16th  Chapters 3-4 Hosted by Laura Komos at Ruminate and Invigorate
July 23rd  Chapter 5 & Appendices Hosted by me! Michelle Nero at Literacy Learning Zone
July 30th @ 7 PM (CST) Twitter Chat with the author Donalyn Miller

Read.  Reflect.  Share.  Respond to others.  Then repeat.


  1. Thanks for the Padlet, Michelle. I'll try to add some books! I am coaching teachers & have found I've made good connections with students through book talks in the classes. I don't do it often, but enough that students come by to find new recommendations. It's at least been helpful in that way, & it's started teachers doing their own talks, too. I agree that we need to share our own habits more explicitly. I forget sometimes, as Donalyn points out, that students don't "know" all the behaviors of wild readers! Thanks for your reflection!

  2. Michelle,
    the link between intervention and classroom reading is on that can't be ignored. As a classroom teacher and as a former special education teacher I have witnessed the need for our readers to be a part of the reading community and how being pulled out during the literacy block interrupts this need. I am so happy so many people are seeing this too, that's a start!

  3. Michelle,
    You and I are going to talk A LOT this year. One of my biggest goals is to somehow find a way to make intervention work for students within classroom communities. My work as a Reading Recovery teacher many years ago required much thought about transitioning readers into the classroom. It wasn't uncommon for kids to be able to do something in the Reading Recovery lesson and then not transfer that to the classroom. We did many "in between spaces" lessons throughout our weeks in the RR. As I move into this position, I am trying to think about how I grow a community of readers. I'm glad to have Deb (above) to help in this journey. I know her experience in special education and her willingness to dive into crazy plans will help make this work. I'm hoping that together with my team, parents, and readers we can figure this out. I really look forward to learning from your experience and expertise. Let's make a plan to chat before school starts. Maybe there are some other intervention teachers we can pull in this conversation. Have you read Shari Frost's book, Rethinking Intervention, yet? I think it is a smart one for beginning this conversation.


    1. Oops. One more thing: thanks for mentioning Teri's quote about helping readers move to the "next book." I'm thinking that is a big part of this journey --- helping students to always have a next book.


  4. Michelle,
    I agree with you about the need to improve the collaborative efforts of classroom teachers and Interventionists who work with our developing readers. As a first grade teacher, in a building that provides reading recovery support to at-risk students, this is an important consideration. Are we giving these children the time they need to sit and enjoy reading books of their own choosing? It is an are that warrants further dialogue and discussion.
    I can also relate to your concerns about utilizing a reader's notebook. Have you ever considered an Interactive Read-Aloud? Students respond in their reader's notebook using words, pictures, and a host of other ways they can share their connections with the text. It may be a good way to scaffold their learning.
    I enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. Hi Michelle,

    We think this idea of sharing your own reading notebook with students is so powerful. When students see how a teacher uses a reading notebook, many things start to make sense for them.

    Also your comments about how we coordinate the teaching of the "habits of wild readers" is so important. The more teachers who are talking to students about the books they are reading and their own reading lives, the more contagious reading becomes. We would love to join in on a conversation about coordinating intervention and classroom work.

    Thanks for your reflections
    Tammy and Clare

  6. I will follow the journey of reading through your reflections. Classroom community reading works well. My students are in French Immersion and we are usually reading more non-fiction books covering Science and Social Studies. I have students share their reading reflections in their groups by using Google calendar as journal entry. We also have learning reading fairs promoting Books of interest,
    Thanks for your post and looking forward to the next reflections.

  7. I love the padlet! I just saw it for the first time at nErDcamp yesterday! I don't know how to add to it, I'll have to google a tutorial! I'll try to check back because I think that could be a really good resource and one to share!
    I added on to your comment on Cathy's blog today about how reading is hard for struggling readers. I struggle with this all the time!
    Looking forward to learning with you!

  8. Michelle,

    I love that Donalyn's first chapter is about time and that you discuss it too. Time is a major factor in all the decisions that teachers have to make, and we have to decide what activity is going to give students the biggest bang for the buck. Snatching reading time in the edges was a really important idea that stood out for me from the first chapter, and to be explicit with students about how I do this in daily life and encourage them to be aware of when they can snatch some extra reading time.

    As a middle school teacher, I enjoyed reading YA literature, and like you, needed to spend more time with upper elementary level books to support my growing readers. I empathize with you!


  9. Michelle,
    Have I told you lately how thankful I am that you are co-hosting with us?! :) I also picked up on Donalyn's 5 Authors idea. Your Padlet idea is fabulous!! Once I think about it a bit more, I'll definitely be adding some ideas.

    Even though you admit to feeling guilty about not reading as many books that might help the students you work with, I think your reading life still impacts you in a way that will help your kids. You do live the life of a reader with diverse book tastes. That can lead to fabulous discussions and mini-lessons!

    I would love to come back together in the fall with our #cyberPD community and share how we've implemented some of the ideas from this summer's learning!

  10. Thanks for he padlet, Michelle! I love the point you mad that we cannot do this alone - that we need to share what we've read with colleagues so that we are at least aware of all the books out there that our kids would love to read/need to read. It's a collective effort to keep abreast of all that's published!

  11. Thank you for making the Padelt, Michelle! I followed your pin though Pinterest...It's going to be so helpful!

  12. Michelle,

    I enjoyed browsing the Padlet. It was interesting to see others recommending some of my favorites. But - it was even more exciting to discover some books and authors that are new to me! I can't wait to check out Frieda Wishnisky and I need to add more Jan Thomas books to my classroom library.

    I am connecting with you about the guilt over reading books that are not meant for your grade level. I often read young adult and middle grades books even though I teach first grade. I used to feel guilty about this, but I have decided that I will no longer feel guilty for reading whatever I want to read. This is part of being a wild reader - having the choice to read whatever we want. I have also found that it can be beneficial when chatting with colleagues who teach older students. I was able to introduce the 4th grade teachers in my building to several books that they now use with their students. The reading community extends beyond the four walls of my first grade classroom - and it is nice to discuss a variety of books, not just those meant for 6 and 7 year olds.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


  13. Collaboration is so important. It isn't easy. Our Title 1 teachers see so many students, and in such snippets and bits, that it can be very difficult to stay on the same page. Also, I am such a poor planner that I rarely know exactly what I'm doing more than a week in advance. Still, I dream of a place where my students are getting the exact same focus, in a different way, that I present in mini-lessons in the general classroom. I'll make more of an effort on my end to make this seamless (or at least less erratic) next year.

    Read on.
    Adam (@MrShafferTMCE)

  14. It's so hard to work with readers who really struggle, for whom reading is simply hard work. My son is a struggling reader (I have a post about what I do as a parent on my blog today), and it's so clear that he's in a vicious cycle where reading is hard for him so he doesn't practice it--and since he doesn't practice it, it continues to be hard! I feel like a lot of the intervention he has received in school has done more damage than good. I so love reading about reading intervention programs that also focus on helping kids become wild readers--not just proficient, grade-level readers! If there is no joy, kids won't do it. Period. We've got to find ways to bring the joy!

  15. Michelle,
    Thank you for making the padlet! What a great resource!
    Your short bulleted list of topics to have explicit discussions with your students about is a clear and concise picture of topics that I too need will implement next year. Although I have at times mentioned related topics, it is important to have purposeful and therefore more meaningful conversations about reading in the "edge times" and fake reading.
    I like that you said "I need to be more explicit in my sharing with my students in my classroom." This is one of the things I need to work on the most going into next year. I have always loved reading, but my students the past two years have seen very little of me reading for pleasure. This MUST change in order to develop the reading community and trust I want to have with my students.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for co-hosting this year's #cyberPD!

  16. I felt convicted about a couple things when reading this last chapter. First, reading that “fantasy and science fiction were the overwhelming favorites” for the students sampled made me do a double take. The thought of having to read either of those makes me not to want to even pick up the book. A couple years ago I recognized I hadn’t read much fantasy and wanted to familiarize myself with Rick Riordan’s books. I started The Lightning Thief and made it through a couple battle scenes and was like, “Enough!” However, Harry Potter and the Hunger Games also fit into the fantasy and sci fi genres and I did thoroughly enjoy the whole series of each ☺ So, I guess by reflecting, I’ve realized that I can enjoy those genres, but I need to do my research so I can rule out those that play out like an action movie.
    The second thing that definitely zinged me is the “overanalysis of historical fiction and biographies during whole class novel units” (p. 177). Three fourths of the books my class and I read together are historical fiction and it’s because of the intentional purpose of integration. Since that’s not the only type of reading we do in class, I don’t feel absolutely terrible, but for those don’t/can’t read as many chapter books on their own, that’s not a healthy balance. Instead, I could substitute a couple out of the class novel study, but still make them available for literature circles. Even right now I’m thinking about “whether the text is well written or chosen for its curricular links” and making mental notes of my changes!

  17. I love that quote...
    "The pleasure of all reading is doubled when one lives
    with another who shares the same books"
    Teri Lesesne quoting Katherine Mansfield (Forward p.xiii)


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