Review – “The Reading Zone” by Nancie Atwell


The Reading Zone: How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical ReadersThe Reading Zone: How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical Readers by Nancie Atwell

The message that I get from Atwell in this book is that getting students to read boils down to enjoyment. The key is to make a print rich environment where reading is modeled and valued.

Three highlights –

Pg 75 Dining room table metaphor for reading workshop – This is exactly what my ideal model would be, just open, thoughtful discussion about books. Setting up multiple dining room tables might address my constant fear of everyone not having the opportunity to participate (or the chance to require everyone to participate).

Pg 54 efferent (to learn) vs aesthetic (to enjoy) reading – I think that too often we forget that reading should be fun,/i>! If teachers only ask students to engage in efferent reading then students will not know that reading can be enjoyable. There is a balance and a conversation to be had with students around the different reasons for reading.

Pg 92 questions for readers while roaming – It’s always nice to get practical strategies from a book, and not just the philosophic, theoretical side of teaching. On this page you can find a list of questions, organized by what levels of answer is required.

One thing that struck me:

Pg 51 Teaching the 7 comprehension strategies distracts from the ‘zone’ – This is how Reading Workshop is structured at my school. I am torn on this point. The strategies are important and need some direct instruction, on the other hand using the dining room table model many of these strategies would make there way into conversation organically.

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