English department adopts new reading program, hopes to awake the inner reader in all

Hannah Maher, Staff Writer

In hopes of “awakening the inner reader” in every student, the English Department embraced a new program at the start of the year. The program, inspired by a book titled The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller, allows students to select their own books and gives them time in class to read their selections.

Over the summer, teachers from the English department had the opportunity to attend a meeting in which they learned about the positive effects that the Book Whisperer program has had on other schools. The program is based off of Miller’s own experiences in becoming a reading teacher and how she motivates and inspires her middle school students to read 40 or more books a year.

English Teacher Joanne Juco could personally relate to the teachers who spoke at the meeting about the Book Whisperer program.

“The presentation about [the] Book Whisperer really spoke to me because the teachers who were leading the class mentioned their previous frustrations while teaching,” Juco said. “They talked about how they would assign chapters for their students to read and the students would come into class without having read the chapters… [and] find ways to fake through their work without actually having read the book. I knew this happened in my own classroom, but I never knew how to fix the problem until I attended the seminar.”

The English teachers can already see the positive effects that the program is having on their students.

“The English teachers share stories at lunch about things that warmed our ‘teacher hearts’, Juco said, “such as when a student recommends a book to me, or when students ask ‘Can we just read 10 minutes longer today, please?’ I know Book Whisperer is working because students are remembering that reading can be enjoyable and shouldn’t just be one more task we do in school.”

The teachers are not the only ones who can see the changes in students viewpoint’s on reading.

“My view on reading hasn’t really changed because I truly enjoyed reading beforehand, no matter what the books were,” junior Rebecca Boyce said. “But I can definitely see other people around me changing their habits and I think it’s great.”

Both students and teachers share a positive outlook on the Book Whisperer program and the potential benefits that it will provide the English program in the future.

“I believe students are already benefiting from the Book Whisper Program,” senior Morgan Davis said. “I know that personally, since the beginning of the year, I have realized how important reading is and have come to enjoy reading for pleasure on my own time. ”

English teacher Stephen Nichols has noticed an increase in the amount students are reading on their own time.

“From what I have seen so far, more students are reading more books than I have ever seen since I have been a teacher,” Nichols said. “I hope that this will spark a love of reading in more students, and that ultimately it will give them the tools to read and to learn anything they want to learn.”

In addition to reading in their spare time, students are given time in class each day to read their books as well.

“I personally enjoy our set daily reading time very much,” senior Angela Baum said. “Reading is a hobby for me, so getting to do it in school is relaxing and…I look forward to it everyday because it is a time period in school where I can do something I enjoy.”

Through the Book Whisperer program English teachers have challenged their students to read a total of 10 books by the end of this year. They hope to continue seeing positive results come from the program.

“At first I was skeptical about introducing the program and wasn’t convinced I would see any positive results come from it,” principal John Luciano said. “I am overjoyed that I was wrong and pleased to see all the student and staff participation that has resulted from the program.”