As I continue to muse on The Book Whisperer, I'm struck afresh by the author's strong declaration that children need book reading models.
Donalyn Miller is convinced that part of the reason her students grow to love reading is that she personally models excitement over books. She has read each title in her classroom library and can speak enthusiastically about each book. When her students ask her if she's read a title, she either speaks knowledgeably about it or makes a commitment to read it.
May we as parents model reading for enjoyment to our children. My daughters already ask me often for book recommendations. I hope to focus this year on thinking of books my sons will enjoy as well.
Miller also helps students inspire one another to read. She has them present simple book commercials in class. She says, "Book commercials are advertisements—short, impromptu testimonials for students about the books that they have read and enjoyed. (Think about how you might tell a friend about a book over lunch.)" To help her students provide good commercials, she presents some of her own, has the kids read the back covers of the books to see what professionals do, and talks through what not to reveal from the book. Through this practice her students discover fresh books to love from the recommendations of their classmates.
Since most of our homes are too small for classroom-style commercials, and in an effort to give our students a safe place to recommend their favorite books, and to receive recommendations from like-minded students, we have special sections of the student forums where our students can share books they have enjoyed:
- Children ages 12 and under can share books in The Book Room.
- Children ages 12-15 can share books at Library.
- Students ages 15-18 can share books in the Teen Lyceum.
Please note that these forums are available only to students who are registered on the Student Forums. Students can join the Student Forums if their parents are full access members of the adult Sonlight Forums.
In Donalyn's class, each student's recommendation is taken as just that, a recommendation. Students take no offense if someone likes books from a more outlying genre like fantasy or science fiction. As Donalyn says, most of us read for escapism (or as I interpret it—to visit places other than where we live). May we encourage our students, our children to read what pleases them.
As we read together, and thus learn together, may we also raise up a generation of passionate book lovers!
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