Wednesday, February 04, 2015

3 Professional Books I am Reading

I have been doing a lot of professional reading lately.  I am reading three professional books that are really helping me think about how best to teach reading to my students.  No matter how much I know and understand about teaching reading, there is always more to learn.  I am excited about these three books because they are really helping me tighten up my instruction by helping me understand some subtle things about comprehension.  I think these books are all amazing no matter what level you teach.  The ideas in these books cross levels and ages of our readers.

I am revisiting Debbie Miller's amazing book Reading with Meaning.  Debbie Miller's work is brilliant  She is one of the people whose work has been most influential in my teaching over the years. Her work with first graders, her books, and her videos have all helped me to see what is possible in a joyful classroom where children's talk and thinking are valued and built upon.  It is clear that Debbie Miller is intentional about all that she does and that is the reason her students are so sophisticated in their understandings. I read her first edition of Reading with Meaning several times but have not dug into the new edition until recently. WOW! What an amazing read. Whether you read Debbie's first edition or not, this book is a must read.  Even though I teach 3rd grade, I learn so much from Debbie about how to scaffold comprehension work with my 8 and 9 year olds.  I remember watching one of her videos when I was teaching 5th grade and how I wished that my 12 year olds could talk and think in the sophisticated ways her 6 year olds did. Miller teaches me over and over that children at all ages can understand with depth but it is our job to provide the right experiences.  Her generous sharing of the way she thinks and plans helps me to revise my teaching.

A book that is new to me is The Comprehension Experience:  Engaging Readers Through Effective
 Inquiry and Discussion.  This book was recommended by Sharon Taberski at last year's Reading Recovery Conference. Since that time, it has been recommended by our director of literacy and some reading teachers in our district.  It is a dense book--not an easy read.  So I bought it and ending up setting it aside. I picked it back up over winter break and dug in.  WOW! This book is incredible. The book looks at comprehension research over the years and reminds us of the things that we know about teaching comprehension (instead of assigning comprehension). The thing I love most about this book is that it shows the subtle changes that a routine can have that really impact a child's understand of what it means to be a reader. Are we predicting to be "right" or are we predicting as a way to dig deeper into the story, knowing that our predictions will change?  Are we connecting to share or to help understand a character?  The subtle differences in the ways we decide to introduce a book are made visible in this book. I am about half way through and it is definitely a MUST READ if you are a teacher of reading.

Finally, I just bought a copy of Reading Projects Reimagined by Dan Feigelson.  I have been hearing about this book but wasn't sure about the idea of projects in the reading workshop. But the "reimagining" in the title is what this book is all about.  This book is really about conferring with readers in ways that deepen their understanding, about listening to readers so that we can build on the things they are thinking about. The projects that Feigelson describes are ways that students make their thinking and discoveries visible--not the projects I think about when I hear the word project. Another MUST READ for sure as it is a book that is already impacting the ways in which I approach a reading conference with a student.

3 MUST READS for sure!  I have to say that I tend to read professional books in the summer, but there is something about reading them with real students in mind that often makes them more powerful. Had I read these over the summer, I may not be returning to them now. I think when I read them with an eye on the challenges I am currently facing as a teacher, they are more powerful reading experiences. 


  1. THANK YOU for your recommendations!

  2. The first edition of Reading with Meaning was one of the first books I read when I was exploring the idea of becoming a reading specialist. I found it to be an amazing book. As I was reading it, I had wished that my teachers - many many year ago had thought about reading in the ways Debbie Miller discusses. I was a struggling reader all through school especially in the area of comprehension. Now, as a reading specialist, I have recommended her book to many of the teachers I work with. What I find - especially in kindergarten - reading has become all about decoding and not about meaning. There seems to be such a rush for kids to "read", that taking time to think about and discuss meaning is put on the back burner. I will definitely check out your other two recommendations. Thank you

  3. Anonymous8:15 AM

    The Comprehension Experience is such a wonderful read! It is deep with research sprinkled in but it really grounds best practices and the journey we have been on as educators. reminds us of simplicity in our teaching. I concur your WOW!

  4. Thanks Franki and you make such a great point of reading professionally with students in mind. This seems to give the book life.


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