Reading Teacher Writes

Sharing a love of literacy with fellow readers and writers

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Blog Series: All Kinds of Readers

Day Four: Ignite the Passion for Reading with Access to Books

If students don’t have books to read, they cannot read books. I’m going to take this opportunity to promote Game Changer! Book Access for All Kids by Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp. This title helps teachers learn why they should and how they can provide books to students.

I started with the school library (when I was a student and again when I became a teacher). Students can use the library to check out books — read, return, repeat — during the school year. School libraries usually partner with the larger community public libraries, as well. There are summer reading programs for kids in most communities. Also remember to mark the school book fair dates on your calendar. Check out the local yard sales (My mom is always shopping for books for me and my students). Some cities have teacher stores that include books to give away to students. These are just a few ideas to get started.

Once kids have access, they have ways to read. They can find themselves lost in the pages of a book, and find the passion for reading.

(Don’t forget to look for audio books, too. Use those earbuds for a good reason!)


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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This could be a long post, but I am thinking you would be upset, so I won’t list every picture book from my PD session today at #RSAC2018. If you want the list of books we used in the session, please feel free to ask in the comments (or email me) and I’ll help. In the meantime, the books I’m reading this week are:

GAME CHANGER! BOOK ACCESS FOR ALL KIDS by Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp

This book IS a Game Changer for teachers and anyone else who wants to get books in the hands of kids! This text is full of the “WHY” and “HOW”, with researched best practices, personal interviews, and stories about helping students have access to books. ALL students!



I just started, but I already love the storytelling — McCall Hoyle is one of my new favorite authors.



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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Summer of the Reading Summit, Part 2

Summer of the Reading Summit, Part 2: My story

After canceling my trip to ILA in St. Louis, I was bummed. It didn’t matter, because my family is important and our activities that week went well. Reading everyone’s posts on Twitter and Facebook allowed me to live vicariously through them, and that was ok with me (and hopefully they didn’t mind sharing). While I was reading, I noticed quite a few mentions of #readingsummit in various cities over the summer. A workshop day where one can learn, meet new people (including authors), and browse books from Scholastic? Yes, please! Count me in! Why didn’t I know about that before?

I found out that Cincinnati was one of the host cities for Scholastic’s Reading Summit. I signed up immediately! An easy drive southeast meant I was there quickly and checked in to a hotel. I needed a lot of rest for the whirlwind day ahead of me. In the morning, I met a wonderful couple from Chicago. She was attending the Summit as well, and her husband came along for the ride. It was nice to find a friend, and now we follow each other on Twitter, too! What a wonderful world to live in, where we can connect with people so easily!

The very first thing I did upon entering the lobby area was browse the book displays. Ah! A reading teacher’s dream! I set a budget and bought two books on my “to read” list. Then I headed over to meet Cynthia Lord (!) and have her sign my copy of A Handful of Stars (I brought that one from home). I love this book! One of my favorite passages made me think of my friends on a Twitter chat the week before — #brave.

“I’d always thought of being brave as a big thing. Fighting aliens or sailing across the ocean or singing in front of a whole church full of people all by myself. Maybe bravery didn’t have to be that big, though. Today, I’d only felt a little bit braver than I was scared. Just enough to tip the scales.”

Cynthia Lord is a lovely, brave person. We talked for a few minutes, and she thanked me for coming and wished me a nice day. I felt brave, too, leaving home on a whim to travel alone and meet another fabulous author, another writer I can share with my students.

Next I looked for Donalyn Miller. I finally met her for the first time in Warsaw, Indiana, and now it seems I am following her around. She’s my reading rock star, for sure. I found a few other Nerdy Book Club members in the grand ballroom: Franki Sibberson and Katherine Sokolowski, who I also met in June, and Colby Sharp and John Schumacher (Mr. Schu). The place packed quickly, and we officially began the day.

My first breakout session taught teachers how to give better book talks. I admitted that sometimes I give away too much during book talks. This session was designed to remedy that. The room was packed, and Steve Black (I called him Scholastic Steve) put on a pair of wacky slippers to talk about Sandra Markle’s What If You Had Animal Feet? Steve said that sometimes a prop helps you to create a hook. He said, “Find a hook, for the book; They’ll want to take a look!” (Cute!) The session was not long enough for participants to each create their own book talk using the props on the tables. But we all left with good advice and we have some book talks in mind for the fall semester. Score!

After a grand lunch, I headed to my second breakout session on conferring with readers, led by Donalyn Miller. The “book whisperer” guided us through some actual case studies where participants got to talk about what we would do in certain situations. Conferring is a challenge in classrooms across the country: time and distractions keep us from completing conferences the way we would like as teachers. It is important to model what we want for students, and it is important to make time for each child. Donalyn told us about the “Golden Gate Bridge method” — start with the first student and make your way around; then start again. That’s how workers paint and maintain the bridge. It’s a continuous process. We covered types of conferences: standards-based, comprehension, and reading habits talks. A conference should not be about a student retelling a story to the teacher, who already knows. After conferring, the teacher and student set goals and plan for the next time. Then it’s back to reading!

The afternoon was awesome! Colby Sharp spoke about becoming Brian after he read Hatchet (by Gary Paulsen) and needing a hatchet. His words about “opening a world of possibilities” allowed us all to dream. Then Cynthia Lord took the stage, and one thing she said made me sad. She told us that her parents never read to her after she learned how to read on her own. They thought that once someone knew how to do something, one should practice. Reading aloud in our classrooms is so important. The research continues to show that students who hear great reading become more intelligent learners. Read aloud! Every day! Ms. Lord also shared her writing process with us. We saw pictures of the parking lot in Rules and the many photographs of dogs, which led to the cover of A Handful of Stars. One of the take-aways for me is just how much research is done to write a book. Our students need to know that the process of writing a story is a challenging one, but so worthwhile.  Cynthia told us that she did four things to become a published writer: 1) Read, 2) Write, 3) Learn, and 4) Dream. She said to write down everything in life that surprises you, because “the surprises become the golden details.”

It made my day when Cynthia Lord said that A Handful of Stars was about bravery. She quoted herself, the same quote that I loved from the text! “I only feel a little bit braver than I feel scared. But that’s all you need.”

To my teacher friends: Go out there and be brave! Have a great school year. I hope you are inspired!

To my family and friends: Thank you for putting up with me during my journeys. I appreciate you to the end!


Slice of Life Tuesdays: Summer of the Reading Summit

Slice of Life Small LogoSummer of the Reading Summit

After canceling my trip to ILA in St. Louis, I was bummed. It didn’t matter, because my family is important and our activities that week went well. Reading everyone’s posts on Twitter and Facebook allowed me to live vicariously through them, and that was ok with me (and hopefully they didn’t mind sharing). While I was reading, I noticed quite a few mentions of #readingsummit in various cities over the summer. A workshop day where one can learn, meet new people (including authors), and browse books from Scholastic? Yes, please! Count me in! Why didn’t I know about that before?



Cincinnati looked beautiful. It was nice to have a break from the rain this summer.



Book browsing was the best. The displays were colorful, bright, and inviting. I was good and didn’t break the bank; I only bought two books that were on my “to read” list.




I met Cynthia Lord! She’s brave, and lovely, and amazing!




It was nice to see Donalyn Miller, Franki Sibberson, and Katherine Sokolowski again. I met them at All Write 2015 in June. They are my reading rock stars, for sure! And I got to meet more #nerdybookclub people, Colby Sharp and Mr. Schu (John Schumacher). It was an honor.





Read more about the Scholastic Reading Summit tomorrow here at I’ll let you know more about the awesome workshops and speakers. See you then!

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“What Did She Say?” — My Answers to Twitter Chat Questions This Week


What Did She Say? My responses to the Twitter chat, #titletalk

Hosted by Donalyn Miller and others on Twitter

September 7, 2014 at 7:00 pm EST

Q1: What is your definition of “uninspired reader?”

(A1: T.S. said, “ An “uninspired reader” is one who hasn’t had the chance to form a reading identity, feels no sense of ownership.)

My A1: Agree! Many students/people don’t have a chance yet to be inspired.

Q2: Considering your definitions of uninspired readers, what can we do to help Ss find reading personally inspiring?

A2: I make sure I allow my students to like and dislike – and share my likes and dislikes. Opens a door.

Q3: How can we negotiate academic and personal reading goals with our students, so they find reading personally inspiring?

A3: It’s hard to find time for everything. Reading is a non-negotiable. Even 15 minutes a day. Do it for you.

Q4. How can we engage a school/home community in the goal of inspiring more readers?

A4: Many families don’t have books or other reading in the home. Ss and P-T conferences help. Also ads for book clubs.

(E. S. said, “I have a future NBC post on this topic. My own children became uninspired readers because of AR.”)

I replied, “My 2nd daughter hated AR! Wouldn’t read at school. Is a wild reader at home!”

Q5. What books, series, authors have sparked uninspired young readers who you know?

A5: Scieszka’s KNUCKLEHEAD had the whole class rolling! Wild reading of wild stories! Also:

So many! Percy Jackson, Divergent, and 39 Clues, as well as Dork Diaries and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Just starting…

(K said, “Several mentions of read aloud as powerful. It really helps level playing field for those who can’t quite access certain texts.”)

Q6. I just finished Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer. Intriguing connections to Plath’s Bell Jar.

(I didn’t respond here. I lost the conversation for a bit.)

Q7: Last minute BONUS question: What are you reading your students this week? 

(W.C. said, “Whatever they want!”)

A7: I agree. I said, “I agree with W. They choose. Class reading is The Tiger Rising. Studying setting etc.”

Thank you so much to Donalyn Miller and others who host these amazing Twitter chats! I had a great time becoming part of the conversation!