Reading Teacher Writes

Sharing a love of literacy with fellow readers and writers

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Blog Series: All Kinds of Readers








Day Two: Ignite the Passion for Reading with Choice

Once students realize you are correct — that reading may be worthwhile and even likeable, then it’s time to grow the passion for reading. Start with day one’s students who don’t like to read. Wait! We established that they DO like to read IF they’re reading what they WANT to read.

Build passion for reading by finding reading materials that students want to read. Take a class survey. Do they like scary books? (My students say I don’t have enough scary books.) Do they read magazines or graphic novels? Once you find out what students like, lead them to those materials.

Students who have a say in what they read may be more likely to try reading. Providing choices helps students find reading that is comfortable for them, and therefore likeable. Encourage choice and teach decision-making skills (like choosing “just right” books).

Take that survey and use the results to provide more choices for students. Build a collection of books that students will learn to love.

(Pictures from Scholastic Reading Summit, Chicago, 2017)


This blog series, All Kinds of Readers, addresses ways teachers cope with the “I-don’t-like-to-read” readers. I have struggled with this for years. I’ve read, researched, and read some more. (I love to read!) How can I get students to find the passion, the joy of reading? Join me as I try to find solutions that work. Add your comments and questions to the conversation. Welcome to the blog!



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IMWAYR: Choices!

One of the most important aspects of my job as a librarian is to spread the book love! I want students to know what books are out there, and I want to supply them with those books. There are so many choices! This week I’m excited about…

SWING by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess

Swing is the story of Noah and his best friend, Walt (aka: Swing). The boys are NOT on the baseball team, but they also have other pressing concerns surrounding love and life. This book will swing you around and around, and even teach you about jazz music greats and Salvador Dali. You’ll love it! (Coming October 2nd — pre-order now! Seriously. You want this one.)

SEAFIRE by Natalie C. Parker

(From Goodreads) “After her family is killed by corrupt warlord Aric Athair and his bloodthirsty army of Bullets, Caledonia Styx is left to chart her own course on the dangerous and deadly seas…” Who wouldn’t want to read about adventure on the open seas AND strong women? (Well, okay. I can think of some people.) I read the preview for this book on Net Galley, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. (Book birthday TOMORROW!)

FRESH INK! An Anthology

These authors are some of my favorites, and I can’t wait to see how this book supports the #WNDB (We Need Diverse Books) movement. It’s out already! I’ve pulled it to the top of my “To Be Read” list for this coming long weekend.



It’s Monday! What are YOU reading?

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover your next “must-read” book!

Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and Jen Vincent, at Teach Mentor Texts decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.




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Thinking About “The 5 Truths of Reading” by Pernille Ripp

I’m stealing today — stealing great words, great thinking, great learning. Pernille Ripp first wrote “The 5 Truths of Reading” on her blog in 2015, and as she says, the post is “old, but still relevant.” I agree. I’m thinking about how I can be more of an advocate for authentic reading and teaching practices as I start my new position as school librarian this fall. Here are my thoughts about the 5 truths: (See Pernille’s original post here.)

  1. Give students choice in what they read. Assigned reading is not the way to get kids to read. Usually the word “assignment” is followed by a collective “Ugh./Aww, Man!/That’s stupid!” from students in the classroom. I’ve heard it; I know. The love of reading for reading’s sake is gone immediately, and that’s not what we want. Our intentions are good — we want students to read good books, to be exposed to meaningful literature, to become more intelligent human beings. But when we assign reading that we choose, we are pushing our lives, our values, our choices into the faces of our children. Instead of assigned readings, give students choice. Talk about books that they might love, build a classroom library where students can find themselves, and create a classroom based on sharing those wonderful titles and the lessons they bring.
  2. Don’t judge the books – or the students. Pernille stated, “Our glances, our purchases, our book conversations all shape the identities that our readers are creating.” I’m guilty here, for sure. Not so much in glances or conversations, as I love to hear what my students are reading (and why they chose a particular book). My purchases have been my decision, though, and mostly reflected what I would like to have in my classroom library. No more! I have followed #WNDB (We Need Diverse Books) for over a year now, and I have consciously built a better library. Instead of deciding what you want, ask your students what should be in the library, and heed the call from recommendations given to you. Once I had a student tell me, “Mrs. S! I know this isn’t your genre, but you HAVE to read this!” One of the best things I ever did. I loved Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs! Listen to your kids. They know. Give them a chance. (Image courtesy of
  3. Be a reader. This is a big one! I cannot imagine being a reading teacher or a librarian without being a reader first. Shouldn’t reading be a pre-requisite for becoming a reading teacher? I think so, and recently I’ve said that out loud more often. Each time I finish a book, I’m more intelligent than I was before, and that is what I want for my students, as well.
  4. Read because it’s reading time. My motto in my reading class was “Read During Reading Time.” I still find it disheartening to hear that people who observe teachers find that there’s “just reading” going on in the classroom. Excuse me, it’s READING class! We have to get rid of rewards, points, and prizes for reading. We have to find that JOY of reading is its own reward, and we have to do that at school.
  5. Label books, not readers. This is so important. Pernille mentioned that Fountas & Pinnell (speaking at the ILA annual conference) stressed that levels are for books. Pernille also said that labeling books meant placing a sticker or stamp on them to show what bin they belong in. Kylene Beers and Bob Probst have done extensive reading research, and I remembered that Kylene said, “This is a child, not an H.” I remembered that when a student asked me once after a formative assessment, “Am I a red?” (as in, “Did I fail the test?”) I have the shivers now, just thinking about it again.

These 5 truths have been on my mind. Hopefully sharing my stolen thinking (thank you, Pernille!) will deeper our conversations about reading and teaching reading in the classroom.


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IMWAYR: The Honest Truth

It’s Monday: What Are You Reading? 

I picked up The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart because it’s been on my To-Be-Read pile the longest. I read from cover to cover quickly; I could not make myself leave the story. In honor of the main character, I wrote a haiku to share with you:

Heart-wrenching and real

This book forced me to wonder.

Thoughts on life and death

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UPDATE: Yes, It’s a Snow Day

I should write about flawed predictions more often. Today is a snow day after all.

Strange. I’ve heard the advice before: “Write it down. Make it happen.” Did I do that? Sure, I’d like to think so.


In the meantime, I have the day to read. The Nest has been on my desk for a month, and I just received Pax in the mail.

Maybe I’ll shovel later. (Hmm…)


Slice of Life Tuesday: I Just don’t Get It

Slice of Life Small LogoI Just Don’t Get It

Why do people prefer to sit and do nothing? I just don’t get it.

Why don’t people like teddy bears? I just don’t get it.

Why do people stay up late? I just don’t get it.

Why don’t people read for fun? I just don’t get it.

I’m sure there are reasons for people to do as they please. I still don’t get it.




IMWAYR: It’s Monday! What are you Reading?

I’d like to try this ritual. Each week, on Monday, people share what they are reading with the world through social media. The best part of my daily routine is sharing my love of reading and of memorable texts. I picked this up (and got my lifting workout done — this book is heavy!) at our school’s Scholastic Book Fair.

HPandSS2015illustratedThis is the new, illustrated, version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling, and illustrated by Jim Kay. I read the original book years ago. I loved the story of Harry and his quest to find out where he came from, who he really is, and why he is special.

This book is gorgeous! I played with the red ribbon bookmark while I checked out at the cashier, and I continue to run my hand over the cover even now; it’s just stunning! The owl, Harry gazing up, the smoke from the train, the red and black contrasting colors, the raised gold font of the title letters…just amazing! The inside pages are just as lovely.




And yes, Mr. Schu (librarian-extraordinaire from Illinois), I smelled it, and it smells as delicious as the sweet treats from the tea trolley on the Hogwarts Express.



If you’ve never read Harry Potter before, you might consider starting here. This book’s beautiful sights will reign you in and keep you under their spell from beginning to end.


Slice of Life Tuesdays: I Couldn’t Wait

Slice of Life Small LogoI Couldn’t Wait

I had to start my Book-a-Day summer challenge on Sunday. I couldn’t wait until my summer — my summer doesn’t start until June 11th! (And it ends early, as well. Boo hoo.) There are so many books to read, so many characters to meet, so many awesome authors who have written new works!

The Book-a-Day challenge (#bookaday) is a challenge where you read a book a day (on average) for a number of days, all set up by you — yourself — as a challenge to read more, read widely. You can read picture books, poetry, short stories, novels, nonfiction, ANYTHING! I wanted to start after reading Donalyn Miller’s (The Book Whisperer, Reading in the Wild) challenge last year.  I read for 40 days, no problem. But I didn’t share every day, which is my goal this year.  Sharing is the best part. You read, and others recommend, and you read more! It’s an excellent way to spend your time, trust me!

RSBookI started with three professional books:

Day 1) The Unstoppable Writing Teacher (M. Colleen Cruz)

Day 2) Reading Workshop 2.0: Supporting Readers in the Digital Age (Frank Serafini)

Day 3) The Reading Strategies Book (Jennifer Serravallo) I received this one today after waiting, waiting, waiting!  (This will take me longer than a day, but I’ll read a picture book to go with each day, so that counts!)

I have to get back to reading, now. LOL Why don’t you join me?


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Update on Book Clubs

Update on Book Clubs: Letting Students Show What They Know

After the first week, the book clubs are still a hit! I noticed a few general trends and used my observations to speak with the groups today:

1) Students completely on their own will forget some of the skills and strategies they learned during the school year. A teacher facilitator’s job includes reminding students that they can, in fact, show what they know with a little review here and there. For example, one group was reading The Tiger Rising, and I noticed the readers completely skimmed over page 92 without saying anything to each other. (This whole page is absolutely an Ah-Ha moment! See Notice and Note signposts by Kylene Beers/Bob Probst.) I asked if I could butt in for a moment and had them reread the page. “Oh, yeah, we knew that.” I reminded them that when they stop naturally, that might be a place to share with others in the group. Maybe someone didn’t pick up on the signpost, and you all could have a great discussion. “OK!” Back to work.

2) Some students won’t be able to keep up with the assigned reading. Someone is always missing homework, and there’s always a reason for it. The group was upset at this one person, but the student had a family issues excuse, and needed encouragement more than a lecture.  My personal connection made the group think: “Remember when I had to leave and go to the doctor for my eye? I didn’t get my work done for a few days. My team helped me to catch up; it wasn’t nearly the problem it could have been because I got the support I needed.” Together, we set up a plan so the student could get back into the swing of things. Crisis averted!

3) Choice reading is the best, most engaging sort of reading that students do in school! How many times have we read the research by Donalyn Miller, Kylene Beers, Richard Allington, Nancy Atwell, and the many others who support reading what students choose to read! Transfer of skills, ladies and gentlemen! It works!

I love watching my students show what they know. They are excited, engaged, and energetic book club participants, and I am a captivated observer! Keep calm and read on! (Who said that?)