My next several Monday Musings posts for staff will be sharing my learning as I read Donalyn Miller’s Reading in the Wild. Here’s this week’s post for our staff:

As I shared in last week’s Monday Musings, Habit 1 of “Wild Readers” is that they dedicate time to read. I am still devouring chapter one on this habit, spending quite a bit of time thinking about Fake and Avoidance Reading. I’m sure you can think of at least one student in your class that falls in this category.  These are the students that spend more time preparing to read or going to the bathroom than they do actually reading.  You all know from building the Daily 5 structure that just telling them to sit down and read will not do any good, so what do you do?

According to Donalyn Miller, fake reading and avoidance reading commonly occur when students lack independent reading habits, confidence, or adequate reading skills.  To help our fake readers, we need to identify their coping behaviors that are helping them hide the fact that they aren’t actually reading.  Here are some warning signs that Miller identifies:

  • Finishes few books or finishes books too quickly.
  • Abandons books often.
  • Conducts personal errands during reading time.
  • Fidgets or talks a lot.
  • Rarely has a book to read.
  • Acts like a wild reader. (these are the hardest to identify)
As Miller explains this in her book, she actually took her conferring time on a few different days to secretly observe these students during the literacy block to record their reading behaviors (or lack there of) and then delicately confront them about their fake reading behaviors.  (When she met with the student she showed her notes that included “not turning pages,” “staring out the window,” “head on the desk” “turned a group of pages”) A common excuse for these fake readers is that “reading is boring.” These students have probably never had a positive reading experience, such as connecting to a book or even completing one.  She then gave the student an opportunity to reflect and make a plan together.
Do you have a fake reader in your class? Let me know if you’d like to try using Miller’s form to record their reading behaviors and have a discussion with them to move them forward. Want to read the book? We have several copies available in the professional reading library for you to check out.

2 Comments

Brad Gustafson · March 9, 2014 at 10:42 pm

Jessica, I shared this blog post with our school. It’s a great resource and I’d imagine that students benefit from the direct feedback/support offered by their teachers in these delicate situations. Thanks for sharing your instructional leadership and ideas with us all. Brad

Habit 2 of Wild Readers | Jessica Johnson · March 24, 2014 at 5:41 am

[…] to share what I learn as I read Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller. (Previous posts are here and here.)  Habit 2 of Wild Readers are that they self-select reading material, a habit that I see […]

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