Examining My Reading Life, January 9, 2015

As a young parent aware of the importance of reading aloud, there is no shortage of books in our house at any one time. We visit our public library at least once a week. Our kids have a lot of latitude about what they want to read. At the same time, we “push” books on them when we see opportunity. Just recently, our family attended the Mary Poppins musical at a local theater. This event was the impetus for reading aloud the novel it was based on, by P.L. Travers. We have fun discovering how the book is different than the musical.

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Besides what I read to my kids over break, I also found time to read for myself. One book I recently finished is Blended by Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker, about blended learning in schools. I thought it was very informative. However, there was too much corporate influence. Plus, I felt the authors built a false sense of urgency to persuade school leaders to purchase the latest and greatest technology.

I also read The Magicians, the first book in a trilogy by Lev Grossman, about college students attending an institution that teaches magic. Think Harry Potter after Hogwarts. I did enjoy this book, as the dialogue was sharp and the plot was well-paced.

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Finally, I read Bird by Bird, a memoir on writing and life by Anne Lamott. This author displayed a wicked sense of humor as she shared her knowledge and wisdom.

I share this with you because of how strongly I believe in the importance of being a lifelong reader. Yes, for our students, but also for all who consider themselves “educated”. No matter how much I read, whether it is the Sunday paper, or the next novel in The Magicians’ series, or reading aloud Mary Poppins to my daughter, I always discover ways to become smarter. This is more than just what I know. It is how I see the world and how to take different people’s perspectives. Reading is as much about building dispositions as it is about skills and understanding.

That is why I gently recommend to you, if you don’t already do so, to share your own reading lives with others. Maybe it is a quiet book club with friends, or a small online community, or even posting your thinking on social media such as Goodreads. Whatever the case, making our reading lives known provides a model for others around us, which helps all of us become better readers.

Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is an 18-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th-grade teacher in Rudolph, WI. He now serves as an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District, also in Wisconsin (http://mineralpointschools.org/). He also teaches online graduate courses in curriculum design and instructional leadership for the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Matt tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD (www.ascd.org) and Lead Literacy (www.leadliteracy.com).

8 thoughts on “Examining My Reading Life, January 9, 2015”

  1. There is a great variety in what you have been reading. An eclectic approach – mine is a bit the same. I agree that sharing what one is reading is a very valuable practice. It helps to clarify thoughts about the book and suggests material for others to read. One day I may follow your advice and share some of my reading. A book I am enjoying at the moment is “Alphabetical” by Michael Rosen. I’ll be writing about it one day.

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  2. Bird by Bird is a great book! I even have my senior college comp kids read a chapter (one that’s a bit “edited” for high school). Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Great picks. I believe strongly in showing our students and our colleagues what we are reading. I have started including a ‘what I am reading’ line on my email signature. I don’t know if anyone notices – but it makes me feel good every time I have to change it on each device!

    I have connections to all three of these books…
    I am part of a cohort working through Blended – so I was very interested in your comments.
    I read the Magicians Trilogy this fall – I wanted to love them – and there were moments – but I must admit I loved Harry more. The last book was my favorite.
    I LOVE Anne Lamont – I have Bird to Bird on my shelf but haven’t read it yet…thanks for the reminder!

    I am just finishing “The Bone Clocks” by David Mitchell…whew!! It makes me feel a little out of kilter – like things are going on around me that I am completely oblivious to. Very interesting!!

    Thanks again for sharing!

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    1. Thank you for commenting Beth. I am actually putting together a full review of Blended for MiddleWeb. Look for it sometime late January. I’d be interesting in your thoughts on the book and concept. I delve deeper into the topic of blended learning on my other site, Theory and Practice (mattrenwick.com).

      You are not the first person to bring up The Bone Clocks. It’s on my to-read list.

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