Thursday, July 4, 2013

Book Love - Penny Kittle

Summary:  Penny Kittle wants us to face the hard truths every English teacher fears:  too many kids don't read the assigned texts, and some even manage to slip by without having ever read a single book by the time they graduate.  As middle and high school reading declines, college professors lament students' inability to comprehend and analyze complex texts, while the rest of us wonder: what do we lose as a society when so many of our high school graduates have no interest in reading anything?  

In Book Love Penny takes student apathy head on, first by recognizing why students don't like to read and then showing us that when we give kids books that are right for them, along with time to read and regular response to their thinking, we can create a pathway to satisfying reading that leads to more challenging literature and ultimately a love of reading.

With a clear eye on the reality of today's classrooms, Penny provides practicacl strategies and advice on:
  • Increasing volume, capacity, and complexity over time
  • Creating a balance of independent reading, text study, and novel study
  • Helping students deepen their thinking through writing about reading
  • Building a school culture focused on the love of reading
Book Love is a call to arms for putting every single kid, no exceptions allowed, on a personal reading journey.  But much more than that, it's a powerful reminder of why we became English teachers in the first place: our passion for books.  Books matter.  Stories heal.  The right book in the hands of a kid can change a life forever.  We can't wait for anyone else to teach our students a love of books--it's up to us and the time is now.  If not you, who?   (Summary from back of the book and image from

My Review:  The first question that went through my mind while reading this was, "Why are we not friends in real life?!"  Penny Kittle is a teaching soul sister.  I cannot agree with her more.  Kids don't read.  They aren't reading.  They don't see their parents reading.  They don't see the value in classical literature.  And honestly, I can't blame them.  Have you ever tried to pick up a book that's too hard for you?  Talk about defeating and disheartening.  No one likes to felt stupid and reading books that are too hard does just that.  I'm not saying we shouldn't read classics, and neither is Kittle.  But we have to build scaffolds to get kids there.  We have to guide them and entice them with books that will light that spark that gets kids reading. 

One of the aspects about the book that I love is how tangible her strategies are.  I got so excited about implementing what she shares.  Another aspect was that there were many of her ideas and strategies that I'd tried and had worked in my own classroom.  It's incredibly validating to hear that what works for you works for other teachers.  I wish you could see my copy of Book Love.  It's color-coded with flags marking pages with sections I loved: one color for quotes, another color for theory, another for questions to ask yourself and students, etc.  I read this book so quickly, I hardly believed it was a professional development book.  I just agree SO MUCH. 

If you're an English teacher, whether novice or veteran, PLEASE pick up this book.  If you've seen the movie Shrek, please hear Donkey's voice saying, "I Believe, I believe, I believe, I believe!"  Because I do.  All students can develop a love of reading, can build stamina, can become life-long readers and learners.  We just have to tap into what makes them tick and start tempting them with 'movie-trailer-like' book talks.  If you talk about them, they will read!  Thankfully Kittle doesn't stop there.  She goes further into how she incorporates writing and increasing text complexity.  But the heart of her message, the heart of any true English teacher, is that reading matters and ALL students can do it.

Rating: 5 stars

Sum it up:  A tangible way to guide secondary students to a love of words (and help teachers along the way).


Penny Kittle said...

You are too kind. I love that you're sharing your love of books with your students and the world. Someday we shall meet and drink some coffee... :)

Sherrey said...

Excellent thoughts and opinions on the decline of reading among the younger generations. We must, whether teachers or not, place books in front of children and youth to encourage their reading them. And we must continue to be readers ourselves. Bravo for this new book and for your glowing review.

Tina said...

This is fantastic!


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