Skip to main content

The Book Whisperer Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child

Michael Jordan didn’t make the varsity basketball team his sophomore year at Laney High School in Wilmington, NC. So, what did Michael Jordan do? Practice. Practice. Practice. He continued to practice to hone his skills. He didn’t give up, and, he tried out for the varsity basketball team the next year. As for the rest of the story, well, you already know.
The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller points out that those who struggle with reading the most, read the least. According to research cited in the book, upon examination of reading requirements of Title I and special education programs, it was discovered that “students in remedial programs read roughly 75 percent less than their peers in regular reading classes.” 
If you have had any experience in schools, or, you are a parent of, as Miller puts it, a “developing reader” versus using the term “struggling reader,” you know what the child’s reading class looks like. Miller explains that schools employ every intervention to help this type of reader with the exception of allowing the child to actually read. Or in other words, practice reading.
Literacy is so important in my line of work, that I tell parents, teachers, and principals that if you want to know how well a student will do in school, you only have to look as far as the child’s reading ability and scores.
As schools promote literacy, this book can be instrumental in helping to improve strategies and interventions that are clearly failing our students. While this book will be of particular interest to teachers and principals, parents will find it useful in that it will allow them to better understand and support their schools as they move from traditional reading classes to reading classes that will encourage and promote reading in every child—not just the “developing reader.”
Not only does this book outline Donalyn Miller’s research based strategies that have worked exceptionally well for her students over many years, there are booklists, student forms, and a host of other materials. 
Some would say that Michael Jordan is one of the greatest basketball players that has ever lived. We should take a page from his “book.” If literacy is to improve, children of all ages are going to have to read, read often, and love reading. In other words, to be readers, children of all ages must practice, practice, practice reading. We can’t give up on particular students because they are labeled developing or struggling readers. It is time we awaken the inner reader in each and every child!