Nurturing Interdependent Readers and creating a school community of readers are two incredibly difficult steps towards changing the face of reading. Penny Kittle suggests a number of strategies to help nurture interdependent readers in her book, Book Love. She starts by suggesting Big Idea Books on familiar themes for the classroom. She starts these notebooks by writing the theme on each one. Then, as students select books they are asked to write a brief summary or book talk about the book in the appropriate book. These books are available every day. Students can use them to find books they want to read and to respond to books they have read. It’s an interesting way to get talking about reading happening. It’s also a great way to incorporate more writing into the student’s day.
Ms. Kittle discusses that she wants her students’ personal reading “to have purpose.” She wants that reading to help them grow as readers and develop more skills. She creates an “order” across the back wall of books and how they’ll connect to each other. She adds book talks to this wall and the students help classify some of the books they’ve read, perhaps by time period, perhaps by genre. This system helps facilitate or instigate more book discussions in her classroom.
Ms. Kittle also helps students determine the difficulty of books, their reading rate, and how to set their reading goals. She utilizes “reading ladders” to help students challenge themselves.
Next, Ms. Kittle discusses how standardized test measures fail us. These timed test intimidate reluctant readers. They also teach students to read for information rather than expanding their own thinking. She gives a great list of the problems with standardized tests, but the part I enjoyed the most was the section on assessments she would support. These assessments include: a student’s reading list and his or her reflections, in writing and a portfolio of samples of student’s reading across genres. She also encourages more collaboration between the teachers from year to year to help individual students continue to grow.
She encourages schoolwide reading breaks which I know can be difficult to incorporate, but could be a welcome addition to most schools. She also discusses ways to encourage summer reading including having the school library open certain hours during the summer.
All in all, Kittle continues to think of strategic and achievable ways to help students progress in their reading skills.