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Focus of Interview:

  • The Book Whisperer
  • Struggling Readers
  • Confidence
  • Peer Influence
  • Graphic Novels
  • The importance of choice

Transcript of the Interview

Donalyn Miller Interview

Mike McQueen:

Greetings everyone my name is Mike McQueen: your friendly teacher librarian, I am here with Donalyn Miller author of The Book Whisperer welcome Donalyn.

 

Donlayn Miller:

Hi thanks for inviting me Mike.

 

Mike McQueen:

Hey, I look forward to chatting with you today. Let’s start off with a little bit of background about you as an author and your professional experience as a teacher.

Donlayn Miller:

Well I teach at Trinity Meadows Intermediate School in Kellar, Texas which is in that big suburban scroll in between Dallas and Forth Worth. And I am a fifth grade teacher Mike. I have about a hundred and three students a year in my language arts classes. And I’ve been teaching this upcoming school year with my tenth year on the classroom. So, it’s kind of a land mark year being on the tenth year. You know, you are moving on the double digits.

 

Mike McQueen:

Yeah. So middle school, has your whole career been in the middle school?

Donlayn Miller:

Yes. My whole career has been in sixth grade actually. And you know the kind that some people will say “Oh you need to try another grade,” and I keep on thinking, “Why I love sixth grade why would I want to teach another grade and then just remind myself that I love sixth grade.” So, if I feel like, I love sixth grade then that’s where I’m going to stay.

 

Mike McQueen:

Well, and sixth grade is a good year for our audience and for our website. Because a lot of struggling readers you know they really start launching off then around the upper you know, fifth or sixth grade and then it seems like let’s go downhill as they grow older for the kids that struggle. So your kind of get like, a little bit after they really start you know, displaying their issues and reading problems.

Donlayn Miller:

Middle school is like a pivotal time for all kids and so you are right about reading too. It seems like, even kids that love reading when they were younger, you know fifth grade, fourth grade, we start to lose a lot of them.

 

Mike McQueen:

Right. And we definitely, I definitely come across a lot of parents and of course teachers that have plenty of struggling readers earlier, you know earlier even when they are just learning how to read and there is, that’s a whole another area. But so for our interview, lets you know probably let’s try to address questions that kind of fit all levels and sometimes it will be specific to older kids. But for the most probable try to focus on kids of all ages that struggle with reading.

Sounds good, okay. So tell us about your book, the Book Whisperer.

Donlayn Miller:

Well the book is really, I started out writing out a blog for feature magazine called the Book Whisperer. And that was supposed to be a short term thing. They just asked me if I would write a column for them and then you know, I think we are going on to our fifth year writing the blog now. And basically I have had a lot of success with my students in the classroom both from their standardized test performance you know which is one measure most people look out;

and then also just their joy and enthusiasm for reading. And so I was asked to share my classroom instructional practices to that blog. (3min) It might be as about reading and the teaching profession in general.

And so I was invited by several publishers to write a book. You know, sharing those ideas with a broader audience. So that’s like, honestly like I thought no one was going to read it. Can I just tell you that? I would like to put my one big chance that my mother would get a nice copy of a book with my name on it, you know. And then, but that kind of feeling into it, but that feeling gave me a sort of fearlessness I think. I thought this is my one shot to say everything I ever wanted to say about teaching reading and about how I really felt about it and how I really felt to my kids. And so I just put it all out there. And that probably made it a better book. Than if I had to worry about what will happen to it afterwards.

Successful when I get to talk to a lot of teachers across the country. And which is wonderful and it’s been a great experience.

 

Mike McQueen:

Well, I came across your book when I was researching online for books and information about struggling readers. I went to Amazon and I did secure researching about I don’t know if I did teaching reading or struggling with reading but I came across a handful of books and then I was looking at the sales, the sales rank In Amazon. And you know, that I sorted you know that I put it in a spreadsheet and all the different books that I found and everything.

This, I don’t know this was in the past six, or eight months maybe ago. And your book, was at a time somewhere in the like 5,000 the rankings of 5,000 in Amazon. And that’s absolutely remarkable because you know I came across books that have rankings of you know, 2 million. And there weren’t many books that, you know hit that over a ranking in Amazon.

So that’s what the first that caught my eye with your book. And I checked it out over the public library and that’s what usually I do when I look for you know professional materials to read, or to buy. So I checked it out at the public library and when I was looking through it just looking through I went like “Wow!”, you hit so many, so many areas that I believe in and agree with. So, I purchased it you know I went back to Amazon and bought it. And then I find out later in the school year that, my wife who teaches fourth grade, her entire staff did a book study on it. I don’t know if I told you that, so the entire staff bought a copy of the book. And she just run and raise about it. So that kind of inspired me to give you a call and talk about the different things.

Donlayn Miller:

I’m glad you did that. That’s exciting for your wife and her school too.

 

Mike McQueen:

Yeah. It is, I really enjoy it when my school or other schools do a book study like that. It kind of brings people together. Let’s you discuss different points that you all have in common. Now that book was written more for teachers. It addresses once you say the word, it addresses a lot of the same things that would benefit parents as well though besides just teachers.

Donlayn Miller:

Well I think it might now, I think a lot of the suggestions that I make about what makes kids more enthusiastic about reading, I think that those are pretty sticky strategies. Because I think, access to books at school, access to books at home; giving kids time to read at school; make them sure that kids have time to read at home. You know, being a reading role model, which I promote to teachers I think have also huge (???). So those big ideas and I think that’s one of the greatest things about it, it’s just simple when they do transfer. While most of the book is really geared towards, you know how do you create a classroom that has thing that inspires and motivates kids to read. A lot of my suggestions in the book would apply at home as well. You know, looking at it in that frame work.

Mike McQueen:

Well let’s talk about, let’s start off with confidence and talking about how important it is to build up the confidence in a reader. What advice or what can you tell us about you know, what role that plays with kids that are maybe struggling much on reading – the role of confidence.

What role does confidence play with kids who are struggling readers?

 

Donalyn Miller:

What I see Mike is a lot of kids (this could apply to any grade level),  just don’t have enough experience as independent readers, to feel confidence as readers. They haven’t read many books, they don’t have to seem much connection to authors that they might like.

Even if you took them to the library or to a bookstore, they might be intimidated by that, that activity because they don’t really know how to pick books for themselves that they might like. You know my first suggestion for those kids would be just to help them find just one or two great books that they could finish on their own. Or even with a parent that they could enjoy. Maybe books that are by authors that are prolific. You know like Gary Paulson. You know we talk about him a lot in upper elementary and middle school. He’s written so many books for kids. And they’re consistently good and they appeal to a certain kind of reader. If you could get a kid to read one book by Gary Polston then you have about a hundred other books you could lead them towards. Gordon Korman is another author that is very prolific and quite popular with kids.

So, often with kids that I don’t find don’t have reading confidence, I will try to pick one book that I know that is consistently popular. You know it might not be popular with every child but it does seem to appeal to a lot of children and read that book with them. Or give that book to the child and then use that book to an in-road for more books. So that they are less intimidated when they like go to the library they may not know as many authors but they know one or two now. (9min) That could go pick out a book. They may not feel like they could read long books, which are often intimidating also, but they could read a few shorter ones perhaps. It’s just baby steps where we’re slowly building confidence. And the way that readers build their confidence by reading. By reading, a book, teaching him and having great reading experiences. So, it’s how can we help kids get those stepping stone books and stepping stone books reading experiences that lead them towards more confidence and efficacy as readers.

 

Mike McQueen:

Right. You know another thing that I always try to encourage parents to do is to you know talk a lot with their kids, or you know teachers too. And just, convince them that they have a special interest in a type of book where in they finish the book. You know if they’re struggling reader, and you know they get one of the books, they get a book and they kind of like it and they read it. You know it’s important that they feel like that, hey that was a good thing and they know what they did could be counted as reading. So many times that these struggling readers you know if they read, a small book or if they if pick a non-fiction book, and then they are only going to read a few chapters that they like. You know I feel like, they feel like that they’re a failure because it’s not what all the big readers d. But if a parent or a teacher jumps in and really make sure to it they understand that. You know, that was a good thing and you know once if all the adults could help build their confidence, I think it will increase the chances that the kid would get another book.

Donlayn Miller:

Oh sure absolutely, you know I had a student two years ago, You know graphic novels are becoming more popular and increasingly popular and the quality of books that are coming out as a graphic novel format has improved quite a bit in the past decade or so. And I had a student last year in my class. That he was not a big reader he told me that he was concerned, that I had these high expectations for reading but what I did is that I started him out with some graphic novels because he was also an artist. And when I approached it to him, you know at that, my approach to him was, “Hey, you know I don’t know a lot about graphic novels, would you read some of these for me and tell what you think about the art.” And you know just very low risk for him, because I was the one inviting. You know, I was the one coming to him, instead of him coming in to me.

And he became kind of like, I mean, he read other books throughout the year which was huge for him but he then really became the class’ graphic novel expert. The other kids would go to him, because they knew he knew all about it. And that he will be able towards them at these great books. So just that confidence building of saying whatever kind of reader I am, still there is a place for me in this environment. I can be successful here. There’s a spot for me in this community and like said you know teachers and parents can really foster that in kids by just that positive language and that support to any type of reading that kids are feeling.

 

Mike McQueen:

Yeah. You just hit on an important topic too about, helping kids figure out what type of reader they are. Because you know I think, a lot of teachers still don’t, with your example for graphic novel, a lot of teachers and even more parents don’t they would see a graphic novel they might think, “Well shoot this isn’t going to help my kid become a better reader, it’s too short, it’s too easy, it’s nothing but drawings and stuff.” How does its going to help them become a reader, but what would you say to the people that have that thought?

Donlayn Miller:

Well you know, I think when you go to Barne’s&Noble and you see the graphic novel section in the library in the Barne’s&Nobl , it’s a little scary because you open up a manga comic and you go,  (12min) “Whoow! Okay there are naked people in there. I’m not giving this to my kid.”

You know when I felt that way too. I’m kind of have a snobby with that, like oh, those are not real books. But when I first tested it, kids have an appeal to that, and when I want to be able to meet the needs of these kids in my class, and then I had to run through my personal knowledge of what a graphic novel looked liked. It’s like an art appreciation class. You know, you look at a lot of paintings, you figure out what’s good. You know, what you should be looking for, so I just read a lot of graphic novels. And when I realized you know, step back a little bit and then okay look, a graphic novel (???) has won the Pulitzer. A graphic novel American born Chinese has won the national book award.

Okay Donalyn, these are probably real books. You know if they can win the Pulitzer. And just talking to parents inside these (???) books in every genre in every format we could find there are graphic novels that are not great, and there are graphic novels that are really exemplary, works of art and also works of literature. And just getting the parents to read a few, if they are really that concerned but any reading is good reading.

And a lot of those graphic novels become inroad, in all the ways we’ve already talked about. Those graphic novels become inroad to kids, who may not feel that confident about reading. It’s short, it’s less intimidating. The visuals actually support comprehension for kids that may struggle with comprehension. And there’s a quiet few graphic novels, that are classic works that there is no fear, Shakespeare now which has the actual language from Shakespeare. (???) There are graphic novels like Odyssey. There’s a graphic novel of the (???). So I think we, you know, parents probably felt a lot like I did. In those early years, I thought these were not real books. But, I think they are here to stay. The appeal is there and we need to catch up to more ideas that they do have literary value.

 

Mike McQueen:

Yes, and like you said too. They exploded so much now; there are graphic novels for different levels. So kids that are just learning how to read, there is graphic novels that you know, of all reading abilities and interest levels.(15min) And you know, as far as the general point that we are making here about confidence you know, you kind of like remind me of when I was, when I became a home owner at first. You know I was, I didn’t grow up as handy man. I really don’t know what was I doing when something goes wrong in my home. And as soon as I could complete some little task around the house fixing something, once I start to build a little more confidence that hey, maybe I can do some of this fixing stuff.  And as soon as I kind of did that where my confidence grew and I believed that I can do it. Then my attitude changed, and next time something would go wrong, I was more willing to give it a try and that kind of came to me, when you described the reading concept just started with a graphic novel. I mean the point we are making now, I don’t think that is really about graphic novels. It’s just about, trying to build their confidence and you know, I think that that is so important and so many kids are kind of fragile (???) to get older with whether or not they considered themselves a reader.

Donlayn Miller:

Well, your analogy is perfect because it is that idea that little successes can lead us toward taking bigger risk. You know in whatever it is, whether its weight loss whether it’s being a reader, whether it’s learning how to do things around the house. And that’s just being a human being. You know, reading (???) as we feel those tiny incremental successes and we feel more confident and willing to take risks, for bigger challenges.

 

Mike McQueen:

Alright, let me move on to the next question. What about the importance of letting struggling readers chose what they want to read. It seems like, kids that are already strong readers and good readers they chose what they want to read but, they have so many more abilities and talents and experience that it’s a little bit easy for them to choose. So, what advice would you give, or what you say about that importance of choice with struggling readers.

Donlayn Miller:

Well I think all readers need choice and you probably read that from the Book Whisperer. That is one of the banned wagons that I travel on. But it’s just that choice is empowering. You know choice gives us the feeling of control. And many kids have not had choice in relation to many things in academics, and reading being one of those things.

But I think sometimes we can plan on kids that read, and then we (???) their choices when they do. We can’t be snobbish about reading. We have to be able to say that okay, this book may be a little easy for him. Most kids will level out their own books as they get, you know those kids that read a lot, those still read books that are too easy. Sometimes, they read a few books that are too challenging sometimes.

It levels out their reading for all purposes. But kids that struggle with reading, you know they have so many walls about the after reading at all. While we discuss them, to some of those who lack confidence, short reading experience, not knowing about books that they want to read. And giving them those choices helps them find general preferences. Which is such huge for a reader, most avid readers finally have other preferences. It helps them find out what they like- authors they can connect to, styles of writing they might enjoy and its empowerment really- in giving them that choice to select their own reading material. Now we can guide them, I think it’s challenge of you teachers, we really need to guide them of course they are struggling readers, because they don’t have the tools necessarily to select for themselves, even given a choice. (18min) So that’s where our knowledge and our guidance can be huge because we can say, Okay this is what I know about this child. And this is what I know about the books that are available for his reading level, or his interest level. Let me get four or five of them. You know we can narrow the choices of that . Let’s get four or five books he might like to read. And then give him a choice. And then slowly, you know you giving him some choice, not just putting one book in the kids hand and say, here you go, read this. Because then you made all choices.

 

Mike McQueen:

Well I think that, there’s two points that come into my mind, one is standardized testing is really like, put a choke hold on teachers with their reading instruction time. I think, so many teachers spend so much time focusing on skills. And you know the consequence to that is, a lot of a time kids get to, choose their own stuff, get very limited, it’s not eliminated. And you know, the other thought that comes into my mind is, the pressure I think kind of, I don’t know if I say pressure, but role of the parent then steps in into even more. How it is important to a parent to should be able to be that supporter, of interest. They know of specific things that are interest. You know it’s like a team thing but, what are your thoughts about that. I mean, do you see that a lot?

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Donlayn Miller:

Well I see that pressure about standardized testing. But I also, you know I still not pressure that reader. You don’t pressure that reader. I know we feel that pressure. Even though if we put it on ourselves, and maybe if we even work hard not to feel that pressure, I don’t necessarily believe in it. But, but what I see, is when I know, What I have to remind myself every spring, when I see that line forming at the (???), for teachers to do their test practice, If then i know the kids that are strong readers, and are successful on those tests, without months and months and months of test prep, it’s not the test prep itself, which is harmful.

Although I don’t think its good instruction. What I have to look at is, what is the test prep crowd out, that would have more influence in the child’s reading achievement. And the motivation, and their interest. Because we don’t have the time, you know if you want to get all your time to test prep, what are you not doing?

What is not happening in your classroom, now, you know what are the kids not being able to do, and a lot of it is – reading, writing, talking about reading and writing. You know, the not doing those things, and we know from research. You know, back at the research, that kids who read the most, are resilient on those tests. They are also the best writers. And they’re across the board, for kids that are most successful in school. So instead of looking at maybe, some of those have a deficit model of thinking and in education where we look, what the kids are not doing? And I would really prefer to look at it as, Okay, who are the kids, that are resilient and on. And that, what do they know, what do they know about reading? What do they know about writing? What happens to their preferences, the like skills that they have, that make them successful? That can be taught, modelled and supported in all the kids. You know, instead of worrying about the four and five, of it or ten, or maybe however many that I might have, you’re worried might not pass.

We’ve always liked kids that are going to be successful, and that we do not necessarily worry about. So what do they know? And most of the time when I find that those are the kids that are great readers. Those are the kids that are great writers. So my thinking is, instead of looking at the, I’m trying to formalize the thought out here. You know looking at what they know that makes them successful, which leads to their academic success. How can we unwind that? – for the kids that don’t necessarily have those skills.

 

Mike McQueen:

Yes, and you are kind of touching on a good topic of like, collaborative learning. Where you know, kids are in groups and they are talking to other classmates and sharing ideas and thoughts and problems. And feeling out each other, is that a kind of what you’re aiming at? Talking about?

 

Donlayn Miller:

Yes, and also creating classroom conditions that kind of just say, okay we are all (???) here. You know wherever we started, we’re all moving forward. And everybody has value and it doesn’t matter what books for reading. And you know, we don’t necessarily point out who the blue bird and the buzzers are. You know, like what we used to do in old reading groups. And we designed instruction that can be differentiated for with just the reading level of the materials that we are offering the kids, and we move forward.

And there are kids that will get caught up in that. And they are comfortable in the safety that they need to have so for any learning can take place. That environment in the classroom that just comes, embraces reading, embraces writing and gives the children hope that they can be successful too. I think it’s huge for kids, you know. Relationships are everything, that engagement in that environment is everything.

 

Mike McQueen:

And as kids get older too, it starts with middle school and above they’re you know, so much more concerned about how they look and what their reputation is. And if a teacher doesn’t have good cause for management, they you know that certain kids will treat them poorly if they say something that, they may be normally embarrassed about. Then kind of “turtle”, you know they come to their shell and that makes it worse for them. So cause for management, I think yes it is very important to create that right environment.

Okay. What would you say to a parent, I recently talked with a parent that you know he was concerned about his daughter. Who, she was a pretty good reader, you know in school in general she gets all As and Bs and everything. But he was worried that, about her attitude about reading that she just, it was like torture to you know give her a book and you would give her a book and you know she would just not want to everyone read everything that he suggested. And you know, get frustrated and sometimes there would be arguments at home. You know, I gave him some tips but I was curious to see, what would you suggest to – I know a lot of parents face that with kids of all ages. They don’t really know, you know how to be supportive or what to say. What would you start off, or what would you suggest that parents could do.

Donlayn Miller:

Well I think, I’m not knowing all the situation there. It gives me a little bit of pause to think about it. But in general what I would want to know is, what is the environment looking like at school in relationship to their reading. If you have parents that are supportive about reading at home, the children are getting those negative attitudes from somewhere. You know, they don’t spring from you know, from birth and beside that they hate reading. You know, that’s a condition response to something. So, I will be looking at first off, what’s the environment at school? – as it relates to reading. If she’s always been in Science books, if she’s never getting to choose books on their own, if the books that she is asked to read at school are (???) with own assignments, book reports, projects, tests. You know, those things kind of burry the joy of reading underneath all the work. And so kids develop this attitude that reading is about work, reading is something you do at school. And there are kids I call then dormant readers in The Book Whisperer, but there are kids that are dormant readers that are successful at school. These are kids that even read, you know they pass their (???) test, you know they do well in English classes. They still don’t read a whole lot. Other than what they are asked to read at school because reading is a job. It’s like a job requirement. Okay, it’s on the list. Things I have to do to be successful in school. I have to read the books the English teacher gives me. And there are kids that will do that. They will check that off the list, but they don’t see reading as anything as meaningful to them personally.

 

Mike McQueen:

And now what exactly my friend, this parent I talked to, is a friend of mine. Exactly what he said, he wants his daughter to do well in school but he was worried about her attitude.

Donlayn Miller:

Yeah. And if the school environment seems okay, I would doubt that it is. I’m just going to say that, I would doubt that they have this great reading environment at school and also the reading supporters at home. And that she still feels this way about reading. I would be really surprised if that was true. But then I might go deeper, if that was the case that she had support all around, for being an avid reader and supporting her reading life then I would look maybe a little deeper. Are there you know visual problems, dexclexia and these sorts of things. But if she is academically successful I would say probably not. I also have to say that as a parent, I have a 12-year old daughter. And you know, I know as much about books as anyone. You know (???) parents to the bookstore. I mean, I feel very confident in my ability to recommend books to my own child. I will say that. And I take her to the bookstore and there is often this resistance to take my recommendations because they’re coming from me. And I remember standing in the bookstore with my daughter and saying, “Honey, you know, I know a lot about these, right?” And hers’ is kind of which is really humorous because I know I make a living of you know as a teacher, making those connections with books. Same books with kids, you know I feel confident. And I know you know, I know a little bit about this but what if it was not because I was the teacher, it was because I was her mom. And you know, there’s something about, not rejecting what our parents might tell us, is great. And the hopes of someone else doing it. So what I realized as a fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Kelly was a great teacher and there are oftentimes where we would talk together about what books we bought fair, and why? And then Mrs. Kelly, would suggest them to Sarah, and Sarah would go get them. She will go read them because Mrs. Kelly gave it a blessing. So sometimes there are bad timing in there too. You know, that Dad doesn’t really know he’s just my Dad, you know. Even though Dad would know great stuff about books. So sometimes there’s a bad power play going on too.

 

Mike McQueen:

Yeah. Hey, I’ve been a teacher-librarian and a teacher as well for forever. And same thing happens to my children as well. And I think you know maybe advice to parents could be to maybe first of all talk. Going to talk with the teachers, you know I think a lot of parents  ( to address the issue – Donalyn) ; to drive in or call, and yeah to address the issue. So maybe first of all just talk, ask questions and get the feel of the (???) environment as well. And if it’s not conducive too a love of learning and a love of reading, maybe the parents can go talk to the other staff in the building. I don’t encourage parents to go right to the principal right away but you know they could talk to the librarian or they can talk with reading teachers or other classroom teachers. You know try to get a feel for what the situation is, but working with the classroom teacher or teacher I think is critical. And try not to be on a same team, and you know as far kids go to you know, I think parents could also tell their kids, “Hey, why don’t you, you know talk with your friends or other classmates about things that they are reading. And you know find someone that you may have something in common with. It doesn’t matter whether a boy or girl whatever but, you know talk to them and see if they have any suggestions.”

 

BOOK? Peer Influence

I see that really successful with a lot of kids too, all to see their classmates whether or not, their are good buddies or not, doesn’t always matter. But a few classic reading at looking at something that tells them like “Hey, what is that, you know I might want to read that.” I think parents and even teachers sometimes, forget the power in doing that.

Donlayn Miller:

I see that happen with my own students every year. You know kids, want to be accepted by their peer group. They want to do what is considered cool, and interesting. And if they see five or six kids in the classroom, that are really great reader, and that’s celebrated. Then they would think, okay what do these kids know that I don’t necessarily know. I’m going to go talk to them about books. You know their friends make suggestions and you want them to have that because we only have them for such a short period of time, in a school year. And we can’t be there sole soul reading recommendations. We can’t be their sole reading model. They’ll still be with their peers with many years and also, because they travel with them all the way to school. And if they can build those reading relationships and those that kind of mutual recommendations, and support for each other as readers, then that would last to them after they leave us. But high back up here, I think talking to a librarian it will be huge because why don’t we use our librarians and us, and frankly if we don’t use our librarians then with all worth, we are going to lose them. This is my feeling, so our librarians are at the front of the battle line right now. And many librarians are losing job and I think we don’t value our librarians as resources, to our individual kids, as much as we could. You know if you have those kids that you are really concerned about, you as a teacher or as a parent which you don’t know what your next step would be, I think talking to teachers is great, but also think talking to a librarian would be huge, would be great.

Mike McQueen:

I’m at the high school level now, but when for ten years I was in elementary level and the parents that had struggling readers, that were engaged and the ones than came in and talked with me as a librarian. Boy, it really made a difference because, I could guide the parents into giving them tips and you know without, making it confrontational between their child and them. And the difference that I saw when parents do that was large. I mean it is big, it was very notable. When I would see them, I’m thinking a handful of parents now puffing into my mind. And the more I talk with them, the more empowered they became to help their kids. And you’re right. Not enough people take advantage of resources of the public library and it’s so sad to see you know some library shutting down, or some schools losing that position or getting it cut in half. And I know the economy is tough right now, but some people that don’t see the library as that valuable tool, they just more than likely haven’t really taken that stuff to see and make it you know, make it happen.

 

Donlayn Miller:

Well, I’m also with children. Of course I agree with you, totally. But what I see often with children is that (???) as parents we are emotionally invested in the success of our children. I don’t mean to a negative degree but I’m just saying that we love them, we care about them. We want them to succeed. We’re very concerned about them, they’re not being successful. And don’t always know how to handle that. And then teachers also have an investment in an individual child that may cause you know, the relationship may not be there with the child, the teacher and the parent because there are so much pressure.

Well and a librarian can be a risk-free you know, other you know, informed adult who can be part of the scenario that can help that teacher or that parent without all this investment you know in the child par se on a daily basis that the teacher and the parent have.

 

Mike McQueen:

Okay, last question. Let’s talk about reading aloud to your kids or for teachers you know to the students and in particular older kids, maybe like fourth, fifth, sixth grade and above. You know if kids get older, I feel it’s harder for parents to read out loud with them. You know at some point kids are just like, “Give me a break you know I’m a teenager now, you don’t have to read for me. I can read by myself.” You know, how would you suggest that looks- reading out loud as kids get older. And at what age, when do parents start backing off  then?

 

Donlayn Miller:

Well I think, you might probably see this too. A lot of parents when their kids become kind of independent readers on their own, they back off on the reading aloud to the kid. You know once the kid is in about third grade or fourth grade, and they feel like mostly the kid is reading books on their own with some confidence. They just don’t read that aloud to them anymore. Even parents read to their small children all their lives because they feel like  “okay he’s got it down, his reading his books and hes good to go” and I can understand that. I understand that logic, but I think what we know from researching that its independent reading is the number one thing, number one that improves reading achievement and motivation to read. Number two, is reading out loud to kids of every age. Especially with kids that struggle, that reading aloud even as they get older reinforces those pleasureness just about reading that we want kids to have because all of their reading experiences are negative because they struggle from you know learning disabilities or other issues thats one place for reading can still be good. You know because they’re enjoying the story and they’re not having to struggle for reading. It also reinforces that parents think that reading is important enough to keep implying for and it reinforces that relationship between the parents and the child you know my teenager and two other daughter was twenty one though and she was a teenager we have (??????). What I remember most about that time was that we read the Harry Potters series since the books came out. So, every year when the books came out we would read those books together as a family. There were days when we kinda grumpy with each other and didn’t have a whole lot of nice things to say

 

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