“Students will read if we give them the books, the time, and the enthusiastic encouragement to do so. If we make them wait for the one unit a year in which they are allowed to choose their own books and become readers, they may never read at all.” ― Donalyn Miller, The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child.
Middle schoolers at SELS have proven to be voracious readers. We have adapted ideas from Donalyn Miller’s book The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child to open up the world through literature. It has been wildly successful, with the average reader completing a book per week, some even more. The real key to success is having a library full of diverse and engaging literature from all genres to share and intrigue students. With students reading so many books from so many different genres, we are finding that we need more variety to keep up with their pace.
I have carefully vetted a list of books to add to our library. We use a free checkout system called Booksource, which inventories the classroom library and then suggests books to balance the library for ethnicity, subject matter, and freshness. I also took a look at which genres I am requiring students to read but don’t have as wide of variety to offer to them. Lastly, I gave the students a say in what books they have read, enjoyed, and would recommend to their friends. This last source is by far the most powerful.