This weekend I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Donalyn Miller and Penny Kittle in person. They were in Portland, Maine to deliver keynote addresses and present at the NERA convention. I was among a very lucky group of educators who got to have dinner and chat with them.
Penny Kittle is the author of Book Love and is the high school teacher I wish I'd had. Maybe then I would have become a reading sooner. The way she talks about how she fosters the love of reading in her high school students was so inspirational. Even after years of not reading much, she gets them hooked. Her students are so very lucky to have her and we are all fortunate to be able to learn from her.
It is no secret to anyone who knows me that Donalyn Miller is my professional idol. I was beyond thrilled to meet her, talk with her, listen to her keynote and attend her "Bring on the Books" session (I know stalk much right?). I even won a coveted advance copy of her new book Reading in the Wild which comes out in early November (It is as amazing as I had expected, go order it now and come back).
I was going to write about meeting Donalyn as the focus of my SOLS post, but I decided to keep the details to myself. Suffice it to say that she is as smart, funny, gracious and wonderful as you'd imagine.
Instead I have been thinking about the focus of her keynote address, reading communities. As Donalyn described her reading community which includes her family, colleagues and students, I began thinking about my own reading community and how important it is to me. I was actually sitting with many in my reading community at the conference.
I am thankful for colleagues at my school like Anna Sedenka, Laurie Tibbitts, Stacey Sawyer and Missy Mullin who are always happy to share great book titles with me and listen as I gush about my newest book love.
Then there are the colleagues that I don't see as often like my Maine Reading Association and nErDcampNNE friends Susan Dee, Cathy Potter, Marylou Shuster, Jen Felt, Chris Pirkl and Natalee Stotz to name a few. Sitting and discussing books with these friends is always so much fun.
I love my blogging and Twitter reading community. One of my favorite parts of the week is Monday night when I can read all the It's Monday, What Are You Reading posts linked up at one of my favorite blogs, Teach Mentor Texts. With Goodreads and my public library page tabs open, I read about what books others are reading. We leave comments for each other and offer thoughts and even more title suggestions.
In my family, my daughter is my only reading buddy. Although she is still finding her love of books, we will talk about what each of us is reading and we read together. I love it when I get a stack of picture books from the library. We sit and read them together and she gives me a rating for Goodreads.
My students are the people I talk with about books each day. We recommend titles, discuss what is happening in our books and talk about our reading lives.
These reading communities enrich my life. Although I am a reading late bloomer and never had this kind of community until fairly recently, I am so happy I have all of these people in my life to share my love of books.
We need to remember that reading is a social activity that needs to be nurtured for ourselves and our students.
So I'll leave you with these questions:
Who is in your reading community?
How do you share this with students?
What do you do to help students develop and nurture their own reading communities?