Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Behind the Books: Reading in the Wild

I loved Donalyn Miller’s first book The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child, so when I heard she had a new book coming out, I knew I had to buy it. Let me tell you, Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisper’s Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits did not disappoint. Miller is a truly inspirational educator with innovative ideas and the evidence to back up their efficacy.

I read dozens and dozens of book every year—some for kids, some for educators, some for adults interested in science—but I very rarely blog about them. What makes Reading in the Wild so special? It’s one of the few books written by a reading teacher that adequately addresses the power of nonfiction, especially for a specific subset of children.

In recent years, the education community has begun to recognize that many young readers prefer nonfiction to fiction. These analytically-thinking kids love learning about the world and everything in it.

Largely thorugh Miller’s work, some educators have also begun to understand their own “book gap” when it comes to nonfiction. For whatever reason, they are not particularly drawn to nonfiction. And that means they have to work hard and purposefully to serve  children who would rather read true stories or ravenously consume fascinating facts.

Right now, many teacher-librarians are moving nonfiction titles out of the dark back corner where it had been wasting away for years. They are rearranging their collections to make nonfiction browsing easier for kids.

Both teacher-librarians and classroom teachers are consciously featuring more nonfiction selections in their book talks. They  are experimenting with nonfiction read-alouds, and they are pairing fiction and nonfiction titles to reach a broader range of children.*

Through Reading in the Wild as well as her posts on the Nerdy Book Club blog (which she co-founded), Miller deftly addresses all of these nonfiction-based teaching strategies, sharing their benefits with the wider world.

Thank you, Donalyn.

*I’ll be writing more about these teaching strategies in my post on the INK blog on Friday.


  1. thanks, Melissa - this looks like a book I'll have to read, too.

  2. Melissa,
    I just got the kindle version of the book yesterday! It's up next in my professional to be read pile! Thanks for sharing about it! Can't wait to read it!