Sunday, October 9, 2011

I Want to be a Book Whisperer

I owe much thanks to Janice Griffin for recommending The Book Whisperer to me, and suggesting that I have my students fill out a survey about their interests as a kickoff to my first year of teaching. The kids were amazed that I wanted to know about what TV shows they liked, and thought it was hilarious that I watch The Regular Show.

Back to The Book Whisperer, which I read in two sittings and absolutely loved. It was so refreshing to read my thoughts in print! Although I guess now the book I would want to write about encouraging readers is already written … The following quotes pretty much sum up my philosophy.

  • "Children love stories, which offer the escape of falling into unknown worlds and vicariously experiencing the lives of the characters. Children’s attachment to the story arcs in video games and television programs bears this out.” (p. 28) YES. To me, it’s all about the story. I don’t care how it gets into their brains.

    Which is how I explained my TV question to the kids who asked why we were discussing shows in library class. And why I wish we had audiobooks in the collection. And why I told the high school kids during my student teaching that I personally would be ok with them using Spark Notes, as long as they knew who Lady Macbeth and Miss Havisham are.

  • “Are we teaching books or teaching readers?” (p.85) / “Teaching whole-class novels does not create a society of literate people.” (p. 123) Life is too short to read a book you don’t like. Students sometimes gape at me when I say this. But as someone who loathed The Scarlet Letter and avoids most 19th-century American literature, I don’t think everyone should have to read entire Shakespeare plays or Dickens novels (which I happen to enjoy).

    As I said above, you should understand a reference to Lady Macbeth (and you should probably cover some of the more famous soliloquies) but unless you’re planning to be a Brit Lit major, you shouldn’t be forced to struggle through the whole thing. It’s just going to turn you off to Shakespeare entirely.

    If, on the other hand, you are allowed to read, say, a graphic novel version of Macbeth, and end up enjoying the bloody murders and intrigue, then you may be more likely to want to know what happens in Hamlet. Or read Caroline Cooney’s spectacular Three Witches (I recommend the audiobook version).

    And you’ll get why this Sleep No More Crossover with Friday Night Lights is funny.

I panicked that doing a multi-chapter readaloud that spanned several class sessions might be violating my philosophy, but so far, so good. Lulu and the Brontosaurus is a huge hit with the fourth graders, and the fifth graders are now obsessed with making their own Origami Yodas.

My first Book Whispering challenge: One of my students asked for "a book like Lulu." I asked what she liked about it ... Lulu's brattiness? (thought: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) The narrator speaking to the reader? (thought: A Series of Unfortunate Events) The talking animals? (thought: My Father's Dragon) She couldn't tell me. She just wanted "a book like Lulu." Out of the stack of books I pulled for her, she chose Coraline. I'll find out what she thought this week!

1 comment:

MM said...

And what she thought was ... that she wouldn't bother reading Coraline. Oh, well

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