At Tweetspeak, books matter. We host a book club, we review books, and we publish them at T.S. Poetry Press. We’re dedicated to literacy — for life. And we want to learn from each other about reading in the wild.
Do you want to be a wild reader? Are you reading wildly already? We’re using Donalyn Miller’s Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer’s Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits to explore what it means to be a wild reader — someone most likely to embrace literacy for life. Read through these 5 characteristics and see which ones fit your reading style and which you might incorporate this month.
5 Main Characteristics of Wild Readers
1.They dedicate time to read.
This is the third month I’ve shared my pages with you. I’m getting more intentional about my reading because I have the accountability of sharing my finds. Which makes me wonder if we all need a friend or two to help us read better. Our lists don’t need to be public — just trade recs or favorites with a friend.
I’m also making time each week to hit the library, especially for children’s books. My best reading times are at lunch, with an afternoon salad, or on a weekend afternoon.
When my eyes need a break, I enjoy listening to books on Audible. This month I relistened to Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie as read by Dan Stevens (aka Matthew of Downton Abbey). He does all the accents. A new movie version of the mystery is coming out in November, and I decided I couldn’t wait that long to reacquaint myself with the only Christie mystery I can remember from my binge of her work when I was in middle school.
As I listened, I was reminded again how quietly funny Christie’s writing is, as in this comment from M. Bouc, who is sure the Italian did it and can’t convince detective Hercule Poirot. “This time M. Bouc did not mention the Italian. But he thought of him.”
2. They self-select reading material.
Each month I like to share one article because I enjoy short pieces of excellence. For July, it’s Chief Justice John Roberts’ commencement speech at his son’s ninth-grade graduation from a boarding school in New Hampshire.
Please, don’t read the article about the speech; read the actual speech. Especially for gems like this: “From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice.”
3. They share books and reading with other readers.
I’ve been yearning for a good nonfiction book — well-researched, well-written, with a documentary feel. I found it in Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones. My friend Mark Osler recommended it, and my daughter had to read it in an economics class. It has a novelistic style and a vast cast of characters, each with great stand-alone sentences. Like Jaymie Mai, a pharmacist for the state of Washington, who copes with the stress of what she’s discovering by tending her roses. Quinones writes this jewel: “Mai’s backyard rose garden grew ornate as amid expanding death cases she tended it relentlessly to relieve the stress.”
P.S. In previous months I’ve talked about reading books because they won awards. Dreamland won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2015, but that’s not why I read it.
4. They have reading plans.
This is where I’m a bit of an outlier as a reader — I don’t have set plans. I read rather wildly. Reading one thing one month leads to reading something else the next.
In June’s pages, I wrote about the passing of Michael Bond, author of the Paddington Bear books. This month I was thrilled to find the 50th edition of A Bear Called Paddington, with illustrations by Peggy Fortnum, at the library. My favorite chapter is “A Visit to the Theatre” because I love theater, and Paddington saves the day by taking an actor’s performance more seriously than the actor himself. (I do not exagerate when I say Paddington saves the day. The newspaper in the story runs this headline: ‘PADDINGTON SAVES THE DAY!’)
We all have a job to do in this world, don’t we? Sometimes we need a Paddington to remind us why that job is important, especially when we lose sight of our purpose.
5. They show preferences.
There were days, I hate to admit, when my children chose to read something I found somehow subpar. To my horror, I found myself sniffing, “You’re reading that?” Now my kids are grown, and I’m atoning for my snobbery. This month that meant reading Mountain Bike Mania by Matt Christopher, “The #1 Sports Writer for Kids.” He wrote more than 100 middle-grade novels, mostly about sports, and his name is now a trademark carried on by his family. I’d never heard of him, but the dudes on the Overdue podcast covered a book one of them had loved as a kid called Skateboard Tough. (They debate whether Brett is a skateboard tough or rides his skateboard in a tough manner.) It was a surprisingly deep discussion about a kid with a potentially haunted skateboard.
Much to my dismay, my library did not have that book, but it did have the mountain bike one, plus a kid villain with a great name, Ace Diamond. The book has cliffhangers no one writes anymore, like this one at the end of chapter 4: “This was it. He had found the answer to all of his after-school problems! Nothing could ruin his happiness now!”
And isn’t this why we read in the first place? To find out what ruins our hero’s happiness? That’s worth stepping out of our comfort zone.
Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie
The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick (On the returns cart at the library.)
Autumn Zinnias, Lianne Mercer (Lianne is a friend and poetry mentor.)
Dreamland, Sam Quinones
Early Readers and Picture Books
(Some of this month’s picture books are more early reader-ish than others)
Molly and Joe Want to Know: The Tongue Twister Secrets of B, L.L. Barkat, illustrated by LW Lindquist (Browse reading activities here.)
A Bear Called Paddington, Michael Bond
The Story of Holly and Ivy, Rumer Godden, illustrated by Barbara Cooney
James A. Michener Retells South Pacific, by James A. Michener, illustrated by Michael Hague
Mountain Bike Mania, Matt Christopher
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer, Rick Riordan (Last month I read book 2. This is book 1. I have to wait until October for book 3.)
Sliced (1/4 to 1/2 Only: Got What I Needed and Moved On or Plan to Finish Someday)
& Abandoned (Not My Cup of Tea, It Bogged Down Quickly, or Others Beckoned)
Nope and nope.
1. Share anything about you and the 5 main wild reader characteristics. How do you display them, or wish you did, or plan to in the future?
2. Share your July pages. Finished, sliced, started, and abandoned are all fair game.
Browse more Reading in the Wild
“Megan Willome’s The Joy of Poetry is not a long book, but it took me longer to read than I expected, because I kept stopping to savor poems and passages, to make note of books mentioned, and to compare Willome’s journey into poetry to my own. The book is many things. An unpretentious, funny, and poignant memoir. A defense of poetry, a response to literature that has touched her life, and a manual on how to write poetry. It’s also the story of a daughter who loses her mother to cancer. The author links these things into a narrative much like that of a novel. I loved this book. As soon as I finished, I began reading it again.”
—David Lee Garrison, author of Playing Bach in the D. C. Metro