Monday, January 15, 2018

Reflections on Passionate Readers by Pernille Ripp

This week I finished Passionate Readers by Pernille Ripp, my first book for #MustReadin2018. I highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in creating a building-wide reading community! πŸ“š

Here are just a few of my takeaways.

1. Reading Teachers have to be readers!

The bottom line is that if we are going to try to convince our students that reading is a good use of their time, we really need to practice what we preach. Mrs. Ripp recommends that teachers make our reading visible, set public reading goals, and share our reading plans with our students

Two years ago, I incorporated Donalyn Miller's 40 Book Challenge into our classroom. The students have a copy of this sheet in their reading journals, and mine is posted on the board so students can see my progress. When we do book shopping, I rotate to the different tables with the students and add titles to my TBR list (the first page in our reading journal). When I finish a book, students know that I go back to my TBR to decide what to read next. As we read, I journal about my thoughts and feelings, keep track of characters, and copy quotes that I find to be particularly significant. I share these with students when we discuss what we're reading.

40 Book Challenge sheet adapted from Donalyn Miller

2. Teachers need to have a classroom library.

It's not just that we need to have classroom libraries, it's that they have to be filled with books that students WANT to read. Ask the students. Become familiar with what other teachers recommend (there are so many fantastic resources right on Twitter). The good news? This can start small. I shop at Scholastic Warehouse sales and use their book clubs to order. I try to get at least one copy of new titles, even if that means that there is a wait list for them. Bottom line: students need to have books right at their fingertips. Classroom libraries are a must!

3. We need a "Passionate Reader Learning Community".

Starting on Day 1, our students are aware of the expectation that "this is a reading class; we are going to read." As Mrs. Ripp points out, "...if we are a class where reading is discussed, then reading also needs to take place in it" (66). We book shop on the first day of school. I have found that if the expectation is there, and the routine is in place, students WILL read!! I may not be able to control what happens outside of our room, but I can ensure that while they are with me, students will have time to read books that they choose. 

The link below is to my favorite blog post that Pernille Ripp has ever written:

What Administrators Can Do To Promote a Reading Culture

4. We need to help our students develop their reading identities.

Mrs. Ripp recommends the following steps:

  • Hold an Initial Reading Conference. This is where students set a reading goal to work on until the next time you meet. Mrs. Ripp explains, "It is important that we let the students speak more than we do, as we need for them to realize that their reading identity is not determined by us, but one that they solely carry responsibility for" (100). 
  • Allow students to have complete choice in their reading.
  • Allow students to book shop whenever they need it, not just at some predetermined time.
  • Incorporate audiobooks. This is NOT "cheating"! Audiobooks can be an equalizer for many of our students. Mrs. Ripp points out, "...students finding success with the audiobook world are building their courage, their stamina, and their desire to pick up print texts" (120).
  • Book abandonment is OK. I usually tell our students that "life is too short for bad books". The last thing I want is for them to dislike reading any more than they already do. So, if a student says they don't want to read a particular book anymore, I say "OK." But one tip that I picked up from Passionate Readers is that it is important to discuss WHY the book is not working for him/her. 

What I enjoyed most about this book is its honesty. All of the strategies are ones that Mrs. Ripp has adapted after years of trial and error in her own classroom. And she is quick to point out that there are always those students who just don't become the readers that we want them to be. As someone who has taught in a reading intervention classroom for the past eleven years, this was VERY refreshing to hear--it is SO easy to become discouraged!

As Pernille explains, "Teaching would be so much easier if we could see the influence that the learning may have on a child, but most of the time we do not. We can only plant the seeds that hopefully will grow into something bigger than even we could imagine" (88).

As always, Happy Reading! πŸ“–

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