Book Love: Fostering Readers

Penny Kittle never ceases to amaze me. Never. I read her professional development books, and I am suddenly so excited to spread the reading bug. I want to be in the classroom right now51YUzyqR7SL._SX396_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

One of my favorite takeaways from Book Love was the way Penny Kittle connects her students to their reading. I’m personally not a fan of reader’s notebooks. I’ve had to do similar tasks in my own classes that really feel like busy work. I spend more time on them when I want to be spending more time reading, but I also understand that I need to find some way to keep my students accountable in their reading. Kittle finds a really nice balance.

She has several notebooks in her classroom all labeled with themes: overcoming adversity, love, isolation, suffering, friendship, etc. Periodically, she sets all of the notebooks on a table and tells students to select one theme that might relate to the book they are currently reading. Students write short summaries while connecting the theme.

Kittle’s students are not being forced to read books they’ll purposely avoid. Instead, they are being encouraged to read literature that intrigues them. Not only are they reading in large amounts, her students are connecting and analyzing big issues. AND THEY PROBABLY DON’T EVEN REALIZE IT.

Penny Kittle has a giant board in her classroom that connects classic works of literature to whatever her students are reading. They think through how some of the issues in Pride and Prejudice might relate to modern books like Sold.


We don’t have to prove that our kids are thinking critically by forcing them to read classics and analyze every small piece of symbolism. Perhaps they even read the books (full disclosure: I usually didn’t). What kind of longevity does that produce?

Students become passionate readers because they’re engaged. They are intrigued by the material; they are learning, they are growing. Students are making powerful connections. Reading is rewarding and fascinating.

We need to teach as if this is true.

We need to allow students to be creative, to have a choice, and to make connections in books that are relevant to them.


7 responses to “Book Love: Fostering Readers

  1. Great Post! I also loved the idea of her Big Idea Books! A nice change from the usual readers notebook! I agree with you about having a good balance between reading and writing and why it is important.

  2. I think it is a great point that they are connecting books and their lives without knowing it. It seems natural when a teacher makes it fun! Also reading notebooks are a bit of busywork though they allow more conversation which is smart!

  3. Great Post! I really like the suggestion of picking books that intrigue them. I also like that she doesn’t really assign reading notebooks, but encourages students to pick notebooks that are might go with the book that they are reading. I find this important because I personally do not like reading journal. It shows the students that they do have a choice in what they do in the classroom.

  4. I’ve never liked reader’s notebooks either, though I sometimes do assign them in my classes. And yes, when I read them, it feels like busy work to me. I think I will try Kittle’s version with the shared thematic notebooks in my Creative Writing course in the fall. I’ll let you know how it goes!

    • You’ll definitely have to let me know how that goes. I didn’t know you taught creative writing. Is this going to be a new thing for you? 🙂

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