My Slice: A Day of Wild Reading

sols_6First I must confess – my district doesn’t go back till the 13th of January, so I’m still getting ready to go back.

I love how the first day back from break can be like a second first day of school.  I thought I’d rearrange desks, bring out new books. Perhaps new notebooks.

I sit at the dining room table, wondering about revitalizing reading after three weeks away, when I spot my brand new copy of Donalyn Miller’s Reading in the Wild.  I think, I’ll just read a little, and then go back to planning….Not possible. Donalyn, you just picked me up and next thing I know I’m half way through the book.

It’s interesting how some things just float to you. Maybe it was reading Dana Murphy’s post on her one little word that got me to open the book and not put it down. Donalyn’s thinking just floated up as natural as can be.

By page 7, I grab a piece of loose leaf note paper next to me. I start in the center of the page, letting the ideas hit me and then connect.



Book finished. I look over my notes, and think, what can I do now, next week?

1.  Plan to alternate units of study, reading or writing. The elements of my reading and writing classroom are still there: read aloud, independent reading and writing,  as well as small group conferring. But the whole group mini lesson focus is on one area of study, reading or writing. Not both simultaneously, they alternate. I practically cried when I read this. It makes sense. It lessens the teaching time and maximizes the student reading and writing time. It addresses my limitations: I can’t do it all very well, and neither can the students.

2. Tools for Wild Readers.  The whole concept of a “Wild Reader” is a reader who lives the reader’s life outside the confines of the classroom. Readers that sneak reading in those little spaces of time, the in-between moments; that always have a book within reach, a book on deck and a list of books to be read. My readers are mostly at school readers. And I get that. Donalyn gets that too. Which is so real. It’s time to give my students a chance to be wild readers, to take ownership of their reading with new tools.Their notebooks need to have these tools on board: a place to put a TBR list and a place to record their reading in a meaningful way.

3. A Library App: My library is a living, breathing mess, a monster at times. I spend hours reorganizing and discovering missing books. I’ve tried many systems. It continues to be far less than good and time consuming for students and me. But hey, silly me there is an app for that! A computerized check out that scans IBSN numbers. Here’s the free app from called classroom organizer. I downloaded it to my phone, entered student names, and tried scanning a couple of books. Easy as pie. It will take a while to get all the books scanned, but I have energetic 5th graders who would love this work during lunch time and after school.

4. Reader’s Door: I never got this done on the first, first day of school. The reminder in the book plus my new #mustreadin2014 list has inspired me. I’m imagining what I read over the break and my TBR books covering the door with an invitation for students take this over, making their plans concrete.

5. Graffiti Wall: We’ve done this with Read Aloud. It’s time to take it up an notch and get to those independent reads.

2013-12-20 18.15.14
From Wonder

The Bottom Line.  Reading in the Wind reminds me to reflect on the bottom line. What do I want my student to walk away with when they finish fifth grade? Not just the ability to read, but the knowledge in their bones of what reading can and should feel like. This will happen on different levels for kids, but it will happen for all. That’s my bottom line.

It was a great day of wild reading. Not what I had planned to do, yet it turned out  to be exactly what I needed to do.

22 thoughts on “My Slice: A Day of Wild Reading

  1. I loved reading this post. I don’t think I would be able to put it down after picking it up either. I always enjoy discovering authors that have that affect on me from a range of genres, such as Lisa Schroeder’s novels in verse, anything from Penny Kittle… I am glad that you enjoyed your day!

    • I have read a lot about Penny Kittle and seen her tweets, but ashamedly haven’t read her work. Thanks for the Lisa Schroeder recommendation as well. Must give a look see.

  2. I have yet to read that book, maybe today. I know when I read her first book I started it in the bookstore and had to buy it so I could finish it. I love your statement “in their bones of what reading can and should feel like.” That’s powerful!

  3. And now I have to read it! I got it and it has been sitting on my nightstand because I fear the same will happen to me that happened to you- nonstop glorious reading! It is totally worth it based on what I see here. Thank you for the push I needed to devote a chunk of time to wild reading!

  4. Julieanne,
    I’m so glad I stopped by your post. I haven’t yet reading Reading in the Wild, but I know I want to read it. Of course, after reading your post, I think I need to read it now. I enjoyed looking through all the thinking the book inspired for you. Thanks for sharing the list of changes you plan to make as we get to have our second first day with this group of learners. We start back tomorrow and I can’t wait. Enjoy your last days of break!


    • It is a surprisingly quick read with lots to offer. Read and enjoy. There is a twitter chat planned Jan 12th at 8pm EST #wildreading. Maybe I’ll see you there.

  5. I love this! I almost bought the book at ncte but didn’t want the extra weight going home-so I think I’ll order it now! Thanks for sharing your thinking and reaction to the book. It sounds like you have solid plans to jump into when you go back!

  6. I loved both Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild. I like the glimpse into your note-taking and the action plans you formed. I’m thinking I need to do some re-reading…

  7. Thanks for the Booksource app., Julieanne! I’d made a mental note of it when I read Donalyn’s book, but I needed your post to jog my memory – this will be a wonderful thing to do this snowy , recess-free winter.

  8. I am about one third of the way through. I will have to finish and compare notes. I think the Booksource app would be great! I will need to check that out.

  9. I loved reading through your meanderings… Loved the writing you shared. This post is filled with great planning and deep thinking! BRAVO!
    Have a great return to school,

  10. I got this book for Christmas and haven’t let myself jump in yet. Your post is moving it to the top of my WTR (Want to Read) pile. Diving in today so I can join Sunday’s twitter talk – #readingwild! Thanks for sharing your notes. I love that you finished the book, looked at your notes, and jumped right to the question, What can I do now?

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