Welcome to the Club

This week I read an article called Creating Readers by Donalyn Miller.  (You can find her website here.)  She has a lot of amazing ideas about how and what reading should look like.

Miller’s article was a fun, quick read for me.  Reading and writing about reading seems to be my “thing” lately (and not just for my classes!).  The classroom that Miller describes is very unlike the reading or language arts classroom that I grew up in.  Now, I’m not that old, but…. We had a “Silent Reading” class that was 30 minutes long (maybe?).  However, it felt like eons to my middle school brain.  And I enjoyed reading!  We had to read what was chosen or assigned to us with little or no choice.

Donalyn Miller talks about an entirely different kind of reading classroom.  She has a lot of inspiring ideas that I hope to one day emulate.  Here are just a few ideas…

  • Create a community:  What makes reading fun for me?  Talking or writing about it with others!  This sounds simple, but I think it will take deliberate work, especially in the middle school setting.  As an adult, I have access to Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter, blogs, and web reviews.  Students do not always have this – and certainly not composed by their peers.  One way I can create this community might be to develop a class website where students can post quotes, commentary, reviews, movie vs. book debates, “To Read” lists, interesting connections, and recommendations.  The possibilities are endless and I can meet students where they are at through technology.


  • Give students a choice:  Another simple, yet difficult, thing!  Miller writes that reading is reading – no matter the actual material.  If they want to read a sports magazine, let them.  If they want to read a video game guide, let them.  If they want to read children’s books, let them.  If they want to read the newspaper, let them.  Let them, let them, LET THEM!  In my classroom I just want students to read, I don’t really care what they read.  Which leads me to…


  • Log our reading:  I keep a list of what I have read on Goodreads and in my Wizard of Oz “reading journal”.  Periodically I will reflect on what I ReadingJournalhave read – how many pages, how many authors, what genres, what I thought, would I read it again.  In my classroom I want students to keep track of what they’ve read.  If they start reading a book but it becomes unbearable, write that  down then pick something different.  If they read every issue of Entertainment Weekly, write that down.  Keeping a log allows us, as readers, to reflect, to write, to find something new or to discover something about ourselves.

Those are a few of my ideas after reading Creating Readers by Donalyn Miller.  It all comes down to one main idea though – I want a reading classroom that mirrors how I as an adult reader interact with my reading.  By creating a safe community where students can explore text, ideas, reading and writing, I hope to create lifelong readers!

What helps you be a reader?  How do you engage with others about your favorite books?  Let’s have a discussion below!

9 thoughts on “Welcome to the Club

  1. I know many teachers who have class Twitter accounts so their students can tweet out to authors, class Good Reads accounts, and they may blog using a school-friendly site like Edublog or Kidblog. So you can definitely incorporate all of these features of your reading life into your classroom! I agree that this is what readers do with books when we finish them–we talk about them and share them and figure out what we’re going to read next. We don’t take AR tests or make dioramas or fill out worksheets. If we want kids to be readers, we’ve got to create the conditions where readers grow!


    1. I agree! We have a new 7th grade ELA teacher who is a recent graduate of Chadron. She and I had lunch this summer and talked about the “40 book challenge” and a more authentic way of tracking reading. (You were one of her favorite teachers…so I’m seeing a lot of you in her!)


  2. I loved this article and your thoughts and ideas mimicked mine! Reading is so important and if we force a book onto someone and they have no interest in it whatsoever they will end up hate reading. Like you said we need to let them pick what to read no matter what it is!!


    1. Thanks! I just finished reading The Day My Butt Went Psycho. I had been at a dinner party and was telling the adults about this book. The conversation turned to this article and Donalyn Miller’s philosophy of reading. I’m glad we’ve read this!


  3. Aren’t you glad we were given this article to read? I soaked it right up. I love Miller’s approach to reading. I remember the silent reading that went on for eons in elementary school, too. **yawn** I love her idea of actually reading aloud to the students while they follow along. When the teacher is up front and active in reading, it shows a great example for the students.


  4. I completely agree with you, I want my reading classroom time to be just that, a fun and inviting environment that inspires my students to read. I didn’t have that as a student at any age so I really want to incorporate that into my future students learning.


    1. This type of classroom is new and innovative. I can’t help but wonder how we are going to handle push-back from other teachers, administrators and parents. I guess we need to ensure we have the research to back up or strategies. What else could we use (or should we use) in order to encourage this type of learning? Ideas?


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