Opinion
Education Opinion

Reading Rabbit Holes

By Donalyn Miller — December 31, 2008 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

With the holiday break winding down (we have to report back to school on Friday for staff development), I am in work-avoidance mode. Instead of taking down my Christmas decorations, lesson planning or writing, I decided to clean out the bookmarks in my computer under the guise of doing something productive. After two hours, I realized that I had fallen into the rabbit hole, the colorful, magical, random world that so often sucks me into the Internet. I have some gems in the rabbit hole—Websites that make my eyes glaze over with reading bliss, and surprisingly, enhance my classroom instruction and my conversations with students about books.

Here are my top five reading rabbit holes (ranked in order of the number of hours I spend on them). Be careful, you might fall in!

Take some time off from updating your Facebook page and wander over to goodreads, a social networking site for readers. Create virtual bookshelves of the books you have read, want to read, and are currently reading. My shelves hold a staggering 1,110 books now with my goal to list every book I have read over my lifetime. Spend hours writing reviews, taking the never-ending book quiz, or surfing the lists and reviews of other readers. You can set your bookshelves to private and use this site with students as a forum for book discussions or simply celebrate the books you read.

Spend one year reading the postings at Jen Robinson’s Book Page and take a university course in the latest children’s literature. Jen regularly links to the hottest news and best sites in the kid lit blogosphere and I skim her book reviews often for fresh reading fodder. Jen sits on the review board for the Cybils Awards, the children’s and young adult bloggers’ literary awards, a list of sure-fire hits for the past few years. I could have built this post by pirating all of Jen’s links, but shouldn’t you go to the source?

Don’t despair that teenagers don’t read much, check out Teenreads, the Holy Grail of book review sites for teens, and have your faith restored. Designed with teenagers in mind, this busy site has podcasts, polls, contests, monthly reviews, authors’ interviews and tons of other features. Don’t miss the Ultimate Teen Reading List with over 300 book recommendations for teens by teens. The Children’s Book Council picked Teenreads as the nomination site for this year’s Children’s Choice Book Awards—a nod to the influence of this site and its readers.

I discovered Wordle last spring, while avoiding revising my book (apologies to my editor), and have seen it since in education publications. Users create word “clouds” by typing in text to generate a picture. Words that appear frequently in the text appear larger than others—a cool way to summarize key points or illustrate repetition. Tweak the fonts, colors and backgrounds using the site’s editing tools and design killer-word collages of your favorite quotes or book passages. My students wrote poems and made Wordle collages from them. I created this word cloud about my teaching life.

John Green, author of the brilliant, hilarious, and irreverent books Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, and Paper Towns, is one of my favorite YA authors to read (his books are a bit mature for my sixth graders). John’s homepage, Sparksflyup, is the best author rabbit hole on the Web with regular vodcasts, blog postings, and John’s commentary on all things reading and writing. Read the transcript of his recent ALAN Conference Speech and discover the awesomeness of John.

Now that I have exposed my secret browsing life—it’s your turn. Share your reading rabbit holes with the rest of us. Are there sites you use for book reviews? Do you read any authors’ blogs? I have a few open spots for new bookmarks waiting… And yes, I am reading during my vacation with my annual book-a-day challenge. More about that in a future post, I still have a few days left!

Happy New Year! Think about all of those unread books stretching across the year before us...

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
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
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
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
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
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

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 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
Education Massachusetts National Guard to Help With Busing Students to School
250 guard personnel will be available to serve as drivers of school transport vans, as districts nationwide struggle to hire enough drivers.
1 min read
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass. Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, activated the state's National Guard to help with busing students to school as districts across the country struggle to hire enough drivers.
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass.
Michael Dwyer/AP
Education FDA: ‘Very, Very Hopeful’ COVID Shots Will Be Ready for Younger Kids This Year
Dr. Peter Marks said he is hopeful that COVID-19 vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds will be underway by year’s end. Maybe sooner.
4 min read
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021. On Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, Marks urged parents to be patient, saying the agency will rapidly evaluate vaccines for 5- to 11-year-olds as soon as it gets the needed data.
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021.
Jim Lo Scalzo/AP