A recent study reports that reading may be the best way to reduce stress. With as little as six minutes of reading, your heart rate slows and you relax, losing your everyday cares between the pages. But if reading reduces stress, you wouldn’t know it these days looking in classrooms across America. It is spring, and testing season is upon us. For students and their teachers, reading for test performance induces, rather than reduces stress. In a few days, Texas' students will take TAKS, the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, and the massive preparations for this test convey ...


Editor's Note: Donalyn Miller will be on North Texas' NPR affiliate, KERA, today, Tuesday, April 21 from Noon-1pm CST. She will be on a show called Think with Krys Boyd, talking about reading and her book. To listen live, go here and to listen later (as a downloadable podcast), go here....


I am drowning in books, but what a way to go. My bookshelves at home overflow with beloved titles I read again and again. I dedicated a three-shelf bookcase in my living room to the books I want to read--books I have borrowed, purchased, or checked out from my school and public libraries. Whenever I embark on a day of housecleaning, I begin by reshelving the books my family and I stack on every available surface. My classroom is awash in books, too, with a collection that has surged beyond the confines of my classroom and into a storage closet ...


In my e-mail inbox today, I received an invitation to examine exactly how much money my school district will get from the federal stimulus package. I agree that school districts need help right now. With a flat housing market and foreclosures across the country, school districts have lost a major source of funding—property tax revenues. The American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009 prevents thousands of teachers from losing their jobs and sustains vital programs. If there is money left over, I have ideas about how to spend it (I bet we all do), and I don’t have ...


I almost didn’t recognize her. With flat-ironed hair and makeup, Madeline did not look like the gangly sixth grader with frizzy red hair who I remembered from my class four years ago. “Hi Mrs. Miller,” she said, “I am assigned to your room today.” Participating in Writers’ Day at a local intermediate school, I was asked to teach two rotations of writing lessons to budding 5th and 6th grade authors. High school volunteers, like Madeline, were paired with teachers to help with crowd control and work with the younger kids. I laughed, “I hope you don’t mind, but ...


March 10th marks the 95th anniversary of Harriet Tubman’s death. Tubman is famous for leading slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad, a network of safe houses and trails from the South to the North. Nowadays, the term “Underground” represents other networks like the London Underground and subcultures apart from the mainstream like Underground music and art. The Underground represents freedom, escape, and unfortunately, hiding. I use the term "underground readers" to describe gifted readers, those students who live in a world that is often outside the confines of classroom cultures, which are often pitched toward developing readers. In ...


Five bloggers, members of the kidlitosphere, an online community which promotes children's books and reading, had a crazy idea. Why not use their Internet connections (no pun intended) to create an online blog tour that celebrates reading? Their idea blossomed into an Internet-wide event with scores of bloggers lining up to participate (The Book Whisperer included!). Share a Story/ Shape a Future begins March 9th. If you have not already seen it on the Web, check out the official press release: Within the kidlitosphere, the children's literature bloggers comprise and reach a very broad audience. One of the group's greatest ...


“If you want to be a writer,” Stephen King says, “you must do two things above all else: read a lot and write a lot.” Reciprocal processes, reading and writing naturally fit together. The most prolific readers are the best writers, and my students and I write every day, as well as read. We inhale rich, powerful language, gain sustenance from it, and create our own ideas. We must read so we can write, and we must write so we have more to read. This week, we are analyzing excerpts from our favorite books, examining how authors breathe life into ...


It is flu season, and on the days when I look out to see seven empty desks, I am grateful to be a language arts teacher. Reluctant to start new material when up to a third of my students are out sick, I know that no day is wasted. We can always move forward by reading and writing. Today, my students work diligently on their book reviews. Looking at published examples from Booklist and Publishers’ Weekly, we previously developed a list of criteria we noticed professionals use like information about the author, awards the book has won, and quotes from ...


A recent post from NYC Educator recounts an exchange with students about reading and how much they hate it. It is not hard to see the connection between this conversation and Readicide: How Schools are Killing Reading and What You Can Do about It, Kelly Gallagher’s newest book. I mentioned Readicide in my last post and invited readers to check out Kelly’s book and post questions about it. I am not a big reader of books on the Web, preferring to curl up with the paper version, but I read Readicide over one long Saturday afternoon. Gallagher's book ...


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