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Monday, October 28, 2013

Falling in Love with Close Reading by Chris Lehman and Kate Roberts


WOW!  That was my first reaction to Falling in Love with Close Reading: Lessons for Analyzing Texts--and Life as I started reading it this weekend. My husband and I went to Boston for the weekend, just for fun.  This was my airplane reading and within the first few minutes, I turned to my husband and said, "WOW! This book is amazing already!"  This is a book that so many of us have been waiting for and I was so happy to get mine just in time for a plane trip--what better way to dig into a great book than to be able to read uninterrupted for 2 hours straight?  I was able to read the first half of the book on the way to Boston and the rest of the book on the way home.  WOW! I so love this book!

I have been loving all of Chris Lehman's and Kate Roberts' work for a while and I  became even more interested when I heard them speak at NCTE last year.  I have read their books and followed both of their blogs (http://christopherlehman.wordpress.com and http://kateandmaggie.com).
I loved Kate's blogpost on The Nerdy Book Club Blog this summer. And I loved this Choice Literacy article by Chris Lehaman on research. I even did podcast on Close Reading with Chris and Kate for Choice Literacy  this summer.  I am an official fan, no doubt.  Needless to say, I have been anticipating this book for a while and ordered it the day it came out directly from Heienmann (as I didn't want to have to wait an extra day to get it from anywhere else.)

But even with all of that anticipation and all that I already knew of Chris's and Kate's work, I was still amazed at the brilliance.  Within the first few pages, I was totally hooked on the thinking that Chris and Kate share and I knew that this was a book that would have a huge impact on me and on my teaching.

First of all, the foreword by Donalyn Miller is incredible.  A great set up for the book and the context. In the foreword she states, "Students deserve instruction that moves them forward as readers and thinkers and values their unique experiences and needs."  For so long I've worried about the ways in which "close reading" in the Common Core is being interpreted and implemented but Donalyn's foreword reminds us that we can teach our students to read closely AND to fall in love with reading--that the two actually go hand-in-hand. She introduces the premise of the book and why this work is so important. I savored the foreword a little before I moved onto the book.

On the first page of this book, Chris and Kate state, "We know, in our bones, that loving something or someone involves knowing that thing or person very well.  Returning to it repeatedly, gazing at it for hours, considering each angle, each word, and thinking about its meaning.  Our connection to the written word can be as deep as a love affair."  So, the authors argue, teaching readers to look at texts closely, "is an opportunity to extend a love affair with reading."  Page 2 and I was hooked.

There are so many things I love about this book. First of all, the authors dig into the whole idea of Close Reading--its roots and what it has come to mean with the CCSS.  Then they move to sharing their vision of students developing habits of close reading--doing it without us in their own reading lives.

The rest of the book takes us into classrooms and the thinking behind Chris's and Kate's work with students around close reading. These chapters include actual language to use, texts that work, and insights into the purpose. For me, these chapters really changed my stance about how to work with kids around this complex idea. They teach us how to help students read with a lens and to find patterns in their discoveries--and then to develop new ideas because of the patterns they see.  They carry this ritual throughout the book as we hear their language as they work with kids around text evidence, structure, word choice and point of view. They also share their insights about helping students read closely across texts.

This book is packed and I have underlined, starred and noted so many things that I can't begin to share all of my thinking. I know it is a book that has already changed the way I will work with children and I know it is a book that I will dig into again and again as I play with some of the concepts they understand so well.

Really, this is a must-read professional book--one to put on the top of your pile immediately!

If you finish the book and need more of Chris's and Kate's thinking OR while you are waiting for your copy of the book to arrive, you can spend hours and hours and hours reading the amazing thinking that was part of the Close Reading Blog-A-Thon.

Don't forget to add their session to your NCTE13 Convention Planner!  Their session looks great!

And, of course, you'll want to follow Kate (@teachkate) and Chris (@iChrisLehman) on Twitter!
(Rumor has it that there is a Twitter Chat coming up soon about this book --check out #FILWCloseReading.)


2 comments:

  1. Franki, I started reading this book over the weekend too and I, like you, am already hooked to their thinking, their work. I always read the preface of books but this one is mere brilliant. Donalyn's writing and thinking does this to you as well. I can't wait to finish reading so we can all start talking about it.

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  2. Hi Franki,
    I haven't started yet, but your post makes me want to start it tonight! I have liked the other work they've done and I can't wait to get started on this one.

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