D_Miller_HeadshotDonalyn Miller has taught 4th, 5th, and 6th grade language arts and social studies in the Fort Worth, TX area and was a finalist for 2010 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year. In her popular book, The Book Whisperer, Donalyn reflects on her journey to become a reading teacher and describes how she inspires and motivates her middle school students to read 40 or more books a year. In her latest book, Reading in the Wild, Donalyn collects responses from 900 adult readers and uses this information to teach lifelong reading habits to her students. Donalyn is the founder of the annual #bookaday event and co-host the monthly Twitter chat, #titletalk. Her articles about teaching and reading have appeared in publications such as Education Week TeacherThe Reading TeacherEducational Leadershipand The Washington Post.

42 responses to “

  1. Carole L. Soden

    Just loved your book and it’s validation of everything I’ve thought and taught for the last 40+ years. Loved the helpful forms etc.

  2. Kathy Meissner

    I enjoyed your workshops in MN last week. I am organizing my notes, but found that I can’t locate a book you suggested. It had specific lessons for teachers . I realize this isn’t very specific:(
    I don’t think it was Reading Ladders. It was from Monday, The Bookwhisperer day. Don’t know if you can help, but thanks.

  3. I read Book Whisperer because it was mentioned in an article I recently read. It was like striking gold. Thank you for writing it. I have taught for sixteen years now and coming out of college I felt that teaching reading was far simpler than people were making it. Lots of time dedicated to reading had to be a high priority. Over the years, many programs, new approaches, and reading incentive programs led me away from my core belief that young people should simply be allowed time to read. You have redirected me back to a course that I never should have left, so thank you for that. Stay the course. Teachers everywhere should hear your message.

    • Thank you, John. I am glad that you found The Book Whisperer meaningful. I wish you a wonderful second half to the school year. Happy Reading!

  4. I’ve just finished reading The Book Whisperer. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I am an avid reader, and have been since a very young age, as well as a very enthusiastic teacher! I’ve been teaching for 5 years and have often felt disillusioned that my students don’t love reading as much as I do and think they should/could. I am so excited by what I’ve read and can’t wait to incorporate it into my classroom when I return from maternity leave. I’m so excited!!! Thank you again. You’ve inspired another teacher here, and all the way over in Australia!

  5. I am so inspired! My district mentor gave me your book recently. I read it over winter break. I immediately began implementing some of the strategies with my 3-5 graders once school was back in session. We started by tearing all of my books off the shelves. I hung posters around the room with genres labeled on each one. My students helped me re-organize our collection by genre. Everyone was excited! They were pulling books they hadn’t noticed before. They wanted to be sure nobody else grabbed the one they wanted!

  6. Sheryl Spears

    I, too, have just finished reading your book and am thrilled someone out there had the courage to do what all the rest of us want so badly to try and you have done it! You are a success! Every word said in your book validated my beliefs. It was so rewarding to finally get a book out there saying that children really need to read, read, read! In today’s world their world is filled outside of school and we need to be that place where children can read! I just felt the words wrap around me as I read. I so strongly feel the same about the mounds of required workbook pages that I’ve had to deal with. This is my very first year teaching fifth grade in a very rural, small school in Colorado. Basal texts are very strongly used K-5 (not five, anymore:)).Very traditionally used with the whole class reading the same story at the same time with mounds of workbook pages. I just felt like all they were doing was mounds of workbook pages instead of reading! So this semester we are reading, reading, reading! Thank you so much for your inspiration! I will always treasure The Book Whisperer. I hope to touch other teachers with it!

  7. My RLA 5th grade partner and I presented at an AIW (Authentic Intellectual Work) Mid-Year conference today. Our focus was Elaborated Communication in the Interactive Notebook WAY!!! We used several sources and The Book Whisperer was one. We were warming the hearts of many educators today in central Iowa. So, thank you for your work and dedication.
    We were introduced to your book last year at the Iowa Reading Conference. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT!!! We use many of your models in our classrooms and our 5th graders adore reading.

  8. Hi Donalyn,
    I attended your presentation on Saturday morning at CCIRA. I did not get a hand-out because I thought I could find one on the CCIRA website. Unfortunately, I don’t see it there. I’d like to share what I learned with our staff. Would you mind sending me the handouts from Conferring with Wild Readers. This was my first CCIRA conference. I wish that I had know about you earlier! I would have loved to have attended more of your workshops!
    Thank you for your work,

  9. Donalyn,
    I have read “The Book Whisperer” several times and can’t put it down. I am currently reviewing, noting, and organizing your thoughts into a framework I would like to use as a Reading Curriculum Guide for our school district. However, I feel like I need to get your permission to use your material in this way. Can I take your ideas and materials and put them into a curriculum guide to be used by our teachers? Do I need to receive permission from the publisher? Every teacher in our district just received a copy of your book, and I would like to follow up their reading with a rough draft framework of the main points of your book to guide our Reading Curriculum workshops to develop our Reading Curriculum Guides. Please let me know how I should proceed so as to not violate any copyright laws and give you credit. I know that if we teach reading in the way you have so passionately presented it and explained it, our students will be the recipients of one of the greatest gifts education can offer them, that of possessing the literacy skills to help them be successful in all areas of their lives. Thank you very much.
    Steve Hansen, Assistant Superintendent
    Lincoln County School District
    Panaca, NV 89042

  10. HI I am a teaching-librarian and have read your books, Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild. I see the need to start our system over and use your brilliance as the framework for improvement and success. I would love to discover a book with these principals in mind in the regards to librarianship in middle school. (Texas School)

    If you have any ideas or wish to direct me towards a good resource, please reach out…Kat Goldin kathlene.goldin@sbcglobal.net

  11. Maggie Caldwell

    Hi! I am a 5th Grade Academically and Intellectually Teacher in NC. I love the Book Whisperer and just began devouring Reading in the Wild yesterday. We use Edmodo quite a bit for our class, including small groups for literature circles, responses to whole class novels, student driven book clubs, etc. I am having trouble find a great logistical way to implement reader response logs using Edmodo. Currently, we use composition notebooks and I response to their entries each day. I know that my students and I would both certainly prefer to use a digital tool for this process, but I don’t want to loose the “continuous conversation” feeling. Can you provide me insight about how you complete reader response logs through Edmodo? Thank you for your time, and thanks for being my reading guru! 🙂
    Maggie Caldwell

    • Thank you for this comment, Maggie. I still struggle with the same issue because Edmodo isn’t really set up for long posts. Things I have tried that you might test out with your own class:

      Every students writes a post on the same time frame ( once a day, once a week, once every two weeks, whatever you what from them), but only a few kids post to Edmodo that week. Kids love being the featured posters. You could assess them for the responses every time and add an assessment opportunity for the Edmodo post. You can also pick a rotating group of peer commenters each week. It’s easier for your students to read and for you to manage. As long as every child posts to Edmodo once a grading period, it works.

      Another thing you might try is to create additional “classes” in Edmodo and create book groups or response groups with a few students in each Edmodo group. They can post and respond to their peer groups and you can rotate into each group–pop in, provide direction, post questions or resources, and so on. It’s a little loose and you have to trust your kids a lot. You may have one or two kids that push it and misuse the freedom.

      There are a lot of details to work out with either of these options and I am not completely jazzed about either one, but I am still limping along with them. It’s still hard to stay on top of all of the kids and provide enough feedback.

      If you come up with any interesting angles on this, let me know!

  12. Hello! I just finished reading The Book Whisperer and LOVED it!! In fact, we are starting a book club at our school tomorrow on that book. It has already impacted several teachers on what they are doing in their classrooms. Words alone cannot fully describe how grateful I am for your amazing work!! We will continue to follow you via your blog and tweets. I look forward to growing and learning with you!

  13. Rachelle Braiker

    I am a current student at Lane Community College. I recently completed a digital story based on your book. I would love to share this with you.

  14. After hearing you at the VSRA conference this weekend, I feel so rejuvenated. I really appreciate you sharing how everything hasn’t always worked out perfectly for you. I feel so hopeful just thinking about the Golden Gate Bridge metaphor.

  15. Donalyn,
    Thank you! I am a second grade teacher and such an avid reader that I wake up an hour early just to read. This year I despaired at the beginning of the year because many of my students didn’t even know the letter sounds much less know how to read. After reading your book this week, I went into class and started pulling our library books out and spent a period helping my children choose books. I had them make lists of what they wanted and I got more books for them. My children became excited and children who told me all year they couldn’t read were reading things I didn’t force them to read.
    I also started carrying a basket with me for when we went for class bathroom breaks because I can always give them free reading time then. It was amazing! In one day every child was reading, not chatting about recess. On the third day, I forgot the basket when I picked them up at their special area and the children got mad at me!
    I don’t think that you intended this book for such young readers, but I am successfully adapting your ideas to fit my young students.

  16. Donalyn, I signed up for your workshop this morning not knowing what to expect. You were at Clopper Mill Elementary and your workshop was something that people were buzzing about in the school. I can’t think of a better or more well spent Saturday morning. Thanks for all you do to inspire our children to read. I am taking away from your workshop quiet a few new things I will do in my class.

  17. Cortney Austin

    I loved your book and plan to revamp my reading program Monday morning!
    In response to Maggie’s post above, a great digital tool is a website called teacher blog it. It allows a teacher to set up blogs for each student and would accommodate the longer discussions, reviews, and recommendations for students. Just an idea!

  18. Thank you so much for your work and effort you have put into your book (The Book Whisperer) and supporting articles. I have not finished reading your book, but have already started putting some ideas into practice. I teach third grade and my students are really enjoying the idea of “picking your favorite book”. I can’t wait to finish reading the book and use the ideas all year long with my next class.

  19. After finding your book, “The Book Whisperer” I felt as though I had found a kindred spirit whose views on literacy were just like mine. I just knew that having more time for reading would make a difference in my students’ reading levels. I am a reading specialist in a high school working with grades 9-12 struggling readers, and I’ve been fortunate enough to create my own curriculum. After reading your book, my curriculum changed drastically to incorporate reading for about an hour each day. My students read a non-fiction article, they listen to a read aloud and we discuss the book, and they read their self-chosen books independently. From an outsider’s perspective it looks as though I am not doing very much, but I can tell you, from my mid-semester reading assessments, that the growth is phenomenal! Thank you for writing this incredible book. It has given me pedagogical support for what I have believed all along; the best way to improve reading is to do more of it.

  20. THANK YOU!!! I am reading The Book Whisper to my 8 year old son. He tried writing a book last summer and so I have been trying to cultivate his love of reading in hopes it might lead to real writing as he grows.
    On the other end of my boys is my oldest son (11) who this years school work was all about getting him to read confidently. So far he is reading at a 2nd grade level which is MUCH higher then I hoped for by the end of this school year!! I am currently working on a summer reading list for him so he will hopefully read for pleasure on topics he is interested in (engineering). It is very hard to find this topic in lower reading levels. But ur book has given me some great ideas on where to start and by Godly I actually have a list!!
    Thanks again for seeing a GREAT need in this area and putting words down so we can talk about it!!

  21. Mala Weaver

    Mrs. Miller,
    I was just introduced to your book Reading in the Wild. I couldn’t put it down. I was intrigued by your remark that your students use Edmodo to respond to literature. Our technology department just introduced my to Edmodo and I am instructing a workshop on it later this summer. Their focus was on setting up accounts and using quizzes. I would like more information on how you use this for reading response. I teach literacy to third and fourth grade students and would like to implement this in my classroom. (By the way–I had to find The Book Whisperer to read also. I truly enjoyed both books!)

  22. julie Lombardo

    I wanted to reach out to you – just heard you speak at OAESA and I introduced myself to you…
    Let me know where to send you an email :).

  23. Dawn Carleton

    Hi Donalyn,
    After hearing you speak in Santa Fe last winter, I read The Book Whisperer, and it changed my life! Not only did I change a ten year old curriculum and approach to teaching reading, but it changed how I looked at my own readying too. The wave your book caused in my classroom of 5th grade has now begun to sweep into other classrooms and has been noticed by my colleagues, my administration, the parent body, and most importantly, by students outside my class! We are all “cheat reading” every chance we get. I used Edmodo for small discussion groups as well as full class reviews, which has been a wonderful platform for my more introverted students to share what they know about a certain genre.
    I just bought Reading in the Wild and can’t wait to read it over summer break! Thank you for being such an inspiration! I certainly hope I cross paths with you again someday!

  24. Good morning Donalyn,
    Thank you for taking the time and effort to write The Book Whisperer. Reading your book has been inspiring and has had a surprising impact upon me personally. I have had a great time this week thinking back about my reading journey thus far. I am your “dormant reader” who is now willing to begin reading for pure pleasure again. Thanks for the “awakening.”
    I will be teaching second grade this fall coming from Kindergarten. I am already in the process of thinking about what reading will look like for my kiddos. I have quite a few picture books that I have used in my K classroom library, but need additional sources to peruse to begin purchasing books for my second graders. Do you know of a list compiled for 2nd? I would also like to collaborate with fellow teachers about what they are doing? I am in a neighboring district in our metro-mess. Please feel free to forward my email to anyone that would be willing to collaborate.
    Thanks again for your amazing dedication to developing lifeline readers.

  25. Where does dystopia fall as a genre? Some say science fiction and others say speculative fiction, which I have never heard of. I am creating a genre tally sheet for my kids and wondering if I should add it as it’s own genre or just let the kids use their “chapter book choices” to put things like “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” in. Any suggestions?

    • Speculative fiction is another term for science fiction. Kids will not need this term. I put dystopias in science fiction.

  26. I just finished reading The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild. I felt like I was reading a book that I could have authored as well. It’s everything I have been doing in class all these years. Thank you for helping to validate my philosophy about teaching children to become life long readers. This has inspired me to continue this coming year. I have passed on your book titles to many of my colleagues hoping to inspire school level changes. Thank you!

  27. Kalaharirose

    Your book “The Book Whisperer” has become my beacon of light in a muddled world of literacy instruction. At my very core reading resonates with me and has quite literally saved me. As a child raised in an extremely neglectful home, books became my nurturer. I turned to books to provide validation, comfort, emotional outlet, and so much more. When I entered into my first year of teaching last year I was beyond excited to share my passion of reading with students. For three years prior I had been collecting literally hundreds of books to fill my future library shelves. Imagine my disappointment when I quickly realized the reading philosophy and instruction expected by the administration of my district did not align completely with my own. I felt like I was cheating the students of an authentic experience with books by inundating them with page after page of comprehension worksheets my grade level team passed out weekly. By the start of the third quarter I was exasperated with the status quo and decided to blaze my own trail. I began reading richly illustrated picture books daily, encouraging recommendations, and providing more opportunity for independent reading. At the end of the year, I saw a difference in how my students were responding to reading. I had students asking to borrow some books for the summer, others donating their own books they loved to the classroom library. I will admit, at first I wavered in my decision, especially during the standardize testing portion of our year. By reading your book, I know my choice was not wrong. I will adapt many of the ideas and techniques you address in your book for next year and many more to come. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for leading the way!

  28. Ms. Miller,

    I was at a conference you presented to on July 1 in Spokane, WA. During your presentation you shared research on reading time per day and graduation rates as well as future income. Where would find that information?


  29. Mrs. Miller,
    I was inspired by your books. I started using a reading workshop approach last year and really loved it. I will be giving the 40 book challenge this year and was confused about what length the books should be to count toward the informational book requirement. I have a lot of picture books, but they don’t seem equal to reading a chapter book. What kinds of informational books should 4th graders be reading toward this goal? Thank you for your help.

  30. Mrs. Miller,
    Thank you so much for sharing your insight will all of us. We would like to use your phrase ” Everybody reads here” as part of what we post for school wide expectations. Please let me know if we have your permission to use this phrase. You have inspired myself and many other teachers that I work with!

  31. Donalyn,
    I bought your book on the recommendation of MC Moran, my dearest friend, who is also a literacy coach among other things in Vermont.
    I teach boys from 11 to 20 years old in the school within a residential treatment program – most of the boys are in for a variety of what most of us would consider serious personal offenses, on the heels of childhoods filled with horrific neglect, abuse and violence.
    Almost every student has an IEP – a few don’t – the short version? It’s a “one-room schoolhouse” and I was blessed with a principal who has effectively supported the idea that they’ll never tell me how to teach. This freedom through me into the abyss – now it was MY decision, not some bureaucrat’s. The only one holding me back was me. I knew better. I’ve read Krashen. I didn’t need research. I needed a push. Shame on me.
    Your reassurance of what I believed deeply has pushed me over the edge. I had been inching towards “free reading” and had always been a student of depth instead of “coverage.”
    We are a year-round school, and our latest summer adventure into Sherlock Holmes was a heavy favorite of many (but not all.) Thanks to your book, my angst over my last two ‘developers’ (also younger mentally and emotionally) has assuaged my fears enough to release them into their own choices. I predict good things for tomorrow morning.
    I cannot thank you enough. Free at last, free at last…
    Your grateful fan,
    Doug, Rhode Island.

    • Doug, I am pleased that my work encouraged and inspired you. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and honesty. I hope you enjoy a wonderful reading year with your students.

  32. Susan Elliott

    I just read both the Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild…Thanks for all the great ideas….have you made examples of forms that could be used in a second grade classroom?

  33. Donalynn,

    I know you are way too busy to answer all the comments you receive, but I just wanted you to know that the school where I am currently a “student” teacher has allowed me to implement reading and writing workshops in my sixth grade class, including independent reading. I started t a blog to document my daily ups and downs – I hope you will have a chance to take a look.


    Thanks for everything – you were my inspiration to make this happen.

    • Congratulations on your success. What a gift you’ve been given. I look forward to reading more about your reading adventures with your mentor and students. -Donalyn

  34. Elnora Andersen

    Does anyone on here think there may be the slightest possibility that a really passionate teacher started reading logs and, over time, others tried to replicate, minus the passion, turning them into a tool that is not that useful? What about book commercials etc.? In the wrong hands, couldn’t they too be turned into something, say a few years from now, a new set of Bloggers disdain? Teaching, like believing in Jesus, is a passion. You either convey it or you don’t. Does it really matter the tools?

    • I agree with what you’re saying, Elnora. It’s what Mike Schmoker calls wallpaper. We spend a lot of time picking out wallpaper, but after a few months, we don’t really see it any more. Instructional wallpaper like reading logs were implemented for good reasons. Do these reasons still hold? Are we valuing the intent behind the practice?