Wednesday, July 23, 2014

#CyberPD: Wild Readers Show Preferences

I am a grandma who always has books around for the grandkids to read. As I am out at garage sales or flea markets or Goodwill stores or second hand stores of any type, I am always looking for books for my classroom. And now, I am also looking for books for the grandkids.

On Saturday we babysat two of the grandkids. The rest of the gang was coming later in the afternoon. Wild reader, Tony, decided to grab a book while he waited for his boy cousin to arrive (the girls he happily played with last summer have become "girly girls" this summer).

He browsed through the pile of Dav Pilkey's Ricky Ricotta books, deciding on which one to read.
"Are these any good?" I questioned.  I was trying to figure out what he liked.
He shook his head yes and then said, "But I'd rather read Captain Underpants."

Going into second grade, he has a favorite author and a favorite series.

He's way ahead of many of my high schoolers.....

Back when I taught 7th graders, I had a student who read nothing but R. L. Stine books. And by nothing, I mean, nothing. I was always trying to suggest other books to her. But. Nothing else. She wanted to be a writer. I tried to convince her she needed to be widely read in order to be a writer. But. Nothing else.

Flash forward a few years. She is in high school and in my creative writing class. We laughed about her obsession with R. L. Stine books. And she told me something I will always keep in mind when working with student readers, "They were comfortable for me. I always knew how things were going to happen.  I guess they were safe choices."


Both of these stories remind me that all wild readers show preferences. Sometimes we have to find ways to expand their preferences, but we can only do that when we really know them as people. We also need to model for them a wide range of reading. I try to do that with students, but sometimes even I get stuck in a reading rut.

The top of one shelf. Shows a part of my reading influences.
I worked in my room today, and then first thing I did was put up my book "canon". Those books that mean a lot to me in my reading life. And as I was putting them up, I kept thinking of other books that I could be including. I also found myself thinking about what I would say about those books and how they influenced my reading life. I hope they can share books that have influenced themselves as readers. I can't wait to have these conversations with my students.


I love all the forms included in the appendix of the book. While I won't probably use them all (time will be a factor) I definitely plan on having them use the Genre Requirement Form and the Reading List to keep track of what they read in a semester. And I will also have them fill out the Wild Reader Survey on the first day of class.

The Selection Reflection will make a great blog post as will the Reading Influences form. Both have great questions that will really get students thinking about what they read and why.

I think my biggest take-away from Reading in the Wild is the need to talk with students purposefully about their reading.  While I talk with students every day, I want to make sure this year that I focus those reading conversations and use them to help move students into independent lifelong readers.


I've loved connecting with all of you during this summer's CyberPD. My husband and I have decided to take a little trip next week, so I'm not sure I'll be available for the Twitter chat.


  1. Safe, comfortable choices. I can relate! I rember always being worried about not liking a book and being stuck with it. I didn't understand that abandoning books is part of the process!

    Thanks for your thoughts in this book club. Bon chance!

  2. Deb, I have really enjoyed reading your thoughts about Reading Wild. Your last paragraph is what I also want to do this coming year. More authentic conversations with students; not just simple questions about what they are reading but also deeper conversations. Have a fun filled trip!

  3. Great thoughts, and I especially like the emphasis on how preferences change and evolve, even when certain students may seem "stuck." I think every way we can push our students to become more reflective on their reading and choices is a win for them.

  4. Great thoughts! I would love to use a lot of the forms as well. I want to have the reading conversations as well. I want my students to want to read and develop a love of reading.

  5. Deb,
    Your story about your student made me smile. My oldest daughter is a reader. She reads just about everything. She rereads books. I gave up trying to keep ahead of her when she was in sixth grade. She'll read the classics --- which kill me. Interestingly, she went through this Baby Sitters Club phase. She read every BSC book. I thought she'd never get through it. I tried to stretch her past it. She stayed right there. When I look back know I think it was this "comfortable place" that propelled her forward years later.

    Thanks for sharing your "canon". Did you happen to see Mary Ann Reilly's post about her reading life: ? I think this would make an interesting conversation with older students.

    I'm so glad you joined the conversation. I've learned so much each time I've stopped by to read your reflections. Enjoy your trip. You'll be missed, but time to relax is important in building energy for a new year.