Education Opinion

Reading Resolutions

By Donalyn Miller — January 01, 2008 3 min read
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Ah, the New Year, it’s a time for looking back on what has worked, what we would like to do differently, and what plans we can commit to in 2008 (at least for a while). I personally believe that you can make resolutions any day, any time. Hey, I have resolved to teach a lesson differently between first and second periods!

Along with my personal resolutions to exercise more and spend less of my weekends working on school stuff (same resolutions as last year), I am also looking back through my reader’s notebook to make my reading resolutions. We readers make lists and set goals. Type “reading resolutions” into any search engine, and you will see what I mean. I could spend 2008 surfing the reading goals of other readers…

I read 112 books last year. Not as many as some, but I am doing my part to raise the average of four books per year reportedly read by the typical adult American. In addition to reading lots of books, I always attempt to read works of literature that I missed during years of schooling, but I do not read as many of these timeless classics as I feel I should. Why does some part of me feel that I am a reading “imposter” if I do not read War and Peace again this year?

I could resolve to read all of the books I have bought, borrowed, or received as gifts. No matter how many books I read from the “Miller Mountain”, the pile never gets smaller...

When looking at the development of young readers, there is no “quality over quantity” debate. I am all for reading (and teaching) great books, but the numbers don’t lie. The people who “run” the most reading miles are the best readers, a fact which doesn’t apply solely to our students. I claim that classroom instruction would improve nationwide if every reading teacher would commit to becoming more prolific readers themselves.

Keeping this in mind, I hereby resolve to read more:

Children’s Literature: Over 5,000 books for children are published each year. Those 100+ books I read last year (many not for kids) are not a drop in the publishing bucket. The flood of books my students have loaned me to read proves that I can never read enough to keep up with them. Every year I plan to read the Newbery Award medalists, a goal since fourth grade. Since becoming a teacher, I have added the Printz Award medalists, as well as the Texas Library Association’s Bluebonnet and Lone Star reading lists. This gives me 50 or so books to read that are well-reviewed and cover a wide range of reading and interest levels for my sixth graders. I have to be as knowledgeable as possible about what books are available so that I can make recommendations and talk to them about what they are reading.

Research: The best practices which can improve motivation, engagement, and capability for our students are constantly deepening and broadening our understanding of reading processes. I must commit to learning as much as I can about the science of teaching reading. Reading teachers, like all other professionals, must remain at the top of our game.

Out Loud: I try to read out loud to my students every day: poems, excerpts from books, articles that relate to what we are studying in social studies. I know what research tells us about the importance of reading out loud to students each day to increase their vocabulary, prior knowledge, and interest in reading. There are too many days, however, where we never make it to our special book, the one we are reading for fun and the love of sharing a story. Jim Trelease, forgive me, I promise to make more time for read-alouds.

On Thursday, when school resumes, my students will reflect on the reading they have done so far this school year, celebrate, and move on to make their reading resolutions for 2008. I can’t wait to read what they have to share. I think that list of mine is about to get longer...

So, what are your reading resolutions? What would you like to accomplish both as a reader and a reading teacher this year?

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.