The Book Whisperer: Chapter 3

Welcome to Chapter 3 of The Book Whisperer: There’s a Time and a Place.

Chapter 3 focuses on three big ideas: 1. The importance of FREE READING TIME, 2. How to carve out time for more independent reading, and 3. Do we really need a dedicated reading corner?


Stephen Krashen found, in a 40-year investigative study of independent readers, that:

He goes on to say that “drill-and-kill” activities are a waste of time, at best having minimal impact on students’ learning and often having a negative effect on achievement.

And by drill-and-kill he’s referring to spelling lists and tests, grammar exercises, and low-level comprehension exercises (p. 41).

The big message here is, reading is never a waste of time. We need to provide more opportunities for free choice reading so that it becomes an established habit in our students’ lives.


Donalyn outlines several ways to squeeze in more reading time:

Classroom Interruptions:  How many times a day are you interrupted by other teachers? Parents? Phone-calls? etc.  If the kids always have a book with them, then they can read while you deal.

Bell Ringers and Warm-Ups: Instead of providing “time-filler” activities at the start of the day (which generally need to be marked) have the kids reading first thing.

Fast Finishers: Do away with extension activities and fun folders. According to Donalyn, they’re nothing but busy work. Again, get the kids reading.

Picture Day (and other “standing around” times): Waiting for your picture? An assembly to begin? In the lunch line? If you have a book with you, then you can be reading.

Library Time: Often the kids end up socializing instead of reading (I’m guilty of allowing this to happen when we visit the library). Donalyn says we need to set the expectation that the kids are either reading or choosing a book. Socializing? It’s not in the cards.


Nope, not according to Donalyn. But wait! Don’t get rid of yours. If you have one, that’s awesome. But if you don’t have the room, then don’t despair. The kids need to learn that they can read anytime, anywhere.

If we give them the time and space, they’ll find their own nook to cozy up with a book.


I’m going to start our day with a basket of books on the carpet meeting area. We waste at least 10 minutes at the start of each day waiting for everyone to arrive, taking attendance, etc.  This time can definitely be put to better use.

I already have the kids look at books when they’re finished work, but I’m thinking I could put more emphasis on it. Really let them know how important this time is … something to be treasured.

Library time is a little chaotic in my class so I’m definitely going to have to work on this. I’ll have to raise my game and expectations:)  If anyone has some tips for me, I’m all ears!

Thanks for stopping by, everyone. Hopefully you found something useful here.

You can read more thoughts on The Book Whisperer here.


11 thoughts on “The Book Whisperer: Chapter 3”

  1. Like you, I really want to impress on my students how wonderful reading is and how it is to be cherished. We've started some lessons on genres and hope to introduce the book challenge today or tomorrow. 🙂

  2. I have a reading corner…library….but I don't let kids read there:-) Too many kids are in and out and I am pulling kids in we we need to find just right books, etc, so it isn't a seating choice during reading:-) And since reading this book, I have done away with bell work. Students come in and read…and I am not as much a stickler about reading just right books during this time. The coolest part of this change, is that there is a lot of talking going on…one morning it was driving me nuts and then I realized they were talking a lot…but with their heads over the pages of books…they were book talking!LaurieChickadee Jubilee

  3. Laurie, that's so cool about your kids chatting and reading! This morning, for the first time ever, I put three tubs of books on the carpet as they came in. They were a little baffled at first but quickly got into it. I can see this is going to be a very positive change, too:)


Leave a Comment