Book Love: Chapters 7-9

Penny Kittle’s last three conventional chapters in Book Love are the core ‘How to’ chapters of the book.

Chapter 7: Responding to Reading

In this chapter, Kittle brings forth several writing exercises that demonstrate a student’s comprehension of the text without involving quizzes or essays.  I like how she models the question response and has her students write her letter about the books that they are reading.  These letters are not that time-consuming and demonstrate higher level thinking skills.  Encouraging students to support their thinking with evidence from the text helps students to grow as readers, writers, and thinkers.

I really liked how she has students respond to passages in a book.  It encourages students to find topics on their own and to quote/cite from their books.  This leads to the students answering the essential higher level thinking questions: What I think; What this says about the book; What this says about the world.

Chapter 8: Nurturing Interdependent Readers in a Classroom Community

Who knew that putting a simple label on a notebook of and title upon it to represent a big idea in literature could so easily turn into a multi-annual writing activity for students to share their reading and work on their writing skills at the same time.  I am totally borrowing this idea.  In these notebooks students can reflect on their own reading and learn about how others may notice things in the same material that they themselves have read.

I like the quarterly reflections where students look back at their reading to acknowledge their accomplishments and to set goals for the future.  I don’t think that many students are given the time to reflect upon their learning and to see how they have grown outside of a letter grade.

Having students group to establish a system for ranking books and setting goals seems like a very effective way to have students value their own accomplishments and desire to meet the goals set upon them by themselves and their peers.

Chapter 9:  Creating a School Community

I wish that I could convince my small district to create a 20 minute per day reading time as Kittle discusses.  It would be great if that were to happen but the reality is that I feel I would get a wall of opposition from teachers that either do not value independent reading or are too worried about trying to cover curriculum — even when they claim to understand that covering a book from cover to cover does not teach any subject.

Currently our district mans the public library during the summer months to try to keep the community reading in the off months.  Sadly, hours have been cut down to four hours a day and the summer reading program has been reduced to one day.  I have personally been to the library dozens of times in the last few months.  I have only seen one person, that did not work in the library, one time this summer.  Our community does not seem to value books.  I suppose this will be my biggest challenge over my career — changing the value of books in my community.  I suppose I will have to take Kittle’s advice and meet them where they are at.

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One thought on “Book Love: Chapters 7-9

  1. So many interesting thoughts here as always, Gary. I wish we could get together and talk teaching for a few hours! I always find your thinking so inspiring! Two things that were hugely important in my classroom to get students to read: a steady influx of new books (I was dept chair and commandeered the entire textbook budget to support classroom libraries. You can buy a lot of paperbacks for the cost of a textbook! I also spent way too much of my own money on books for my classroom.) and my own enthusiasm and modeling of a literate life. I was constantly reading and talking to students about what I was reading and asking them what they were reading and getting books “just for them.” It’s really powerful to put a new book on a student’s desk (especially a student who isn’t a huge reader) and say, “I saw this book and thought of you.” (Especially works when a student has special interests, like basketball or gang memoirs, LOL.) Helping students develop literate lives is far more important than any piece of the curriculum that “needs” to be covered. We have to stop filling our time with stuff that doesn’t really matter so that we can have time for what does. I loved having students do the reading letters and I always did reflective writing for final exams each semester. Please keep in touch this school year as I’d love to know how things are going in your classroom.

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