Opinion
Education Opinion

How Do You Measure a Year of Reading?

By Donalyn Miller — June 08, 2010 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The last day of school for my students was Friday. For our final activity, students tallied their book totals and drew colorful signs displaying how many books they read this year. I took class and individual photos to celebrate the children’s reading accomplishments. My 92 sixth grade students read 5,240 books this year--an average of 57 books per reader. The children were amazed by how many books they read. But as I keep telling anyone who will listen, a number does not reveal the entire story of a child’s reading success. Students shared that they read faster, chose longer, more complex books, or preferred different genres and authors than they did at the beginning of the year. Participating in a zealous community of readers facilitated their reading growth--no matter how many books each child completed.

Two weeks ago, I created a Survey Monkey survey asking students to share their five favorite books and three favorite authors. As part of our last class meeting, I revealed students’ top choices of the year. Admittedly, composing a list of favorites from a group of students who read whatever they choose is a bit misleading. From Laurie Halse Anderson to Gabrielle Zevin, from To Kill a Mockingbird to Diary of a Wimpy Kid, my students’ preferences reflect a diversity of titles, genres, authors, and reading levels only possible in a free-choice reading environment. The books and authors receiving the greatest overall votes (listed in order) are:

Our Favorite Books of the Year

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

4-Way Tie: NERDS by Michael Buckley, Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson; Gone by Michael Grant; Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick; The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp by Rick Yancey

3-Way Tie: The Giver by Lois Lowry; Peak by Roland Smith; Killer Pizza by Greg Taylor

Our Favorite Authors of the Year

Suzanne Collins

Rick Riordan

Tie: Patrick Ness, Scott Westerfeld

Margaret Peterson Haddix

Tie: Laurie Halse Anderson, Gordon Korman

Roland Smith

3-way tie: Jeff Kinney, Mike Lupica, J.K. Rowling

Combing through students’ reading lists and survey responses, reminds me of so many “you had to be there” moments:

playful debates between the Team Gale and Team Peeta factions. Sloane designed a Team Gale t-shirt transfer and sold them to fellow fans. I bought two.

book quotes scrawled across our Graffiti Wall like Peak‘s “Climb high. Sleep low,” and “I am the Circle and the Circle is me,” from The Ask and the Answer.

the gasps from the class when I read the climactic scene in When You Reach Me.

Chris folding our first of many Origami Yodas. His version carried a light saber!

daily drawings to see who would claim our copies of The Red Pyramid, Monsters of Men, Chains, or Sent next.

Each book title represents a story--not only the words on the page--but the story of a reader, who discovered something about literacy, himself, or the world while reading every book. No tally or list adequately captures the power of these stories.

The opinions expressed in The Book Whisperer are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP