At Tweetspeak, books matter. We host a book club, we review books, and we publish them at TS 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.
Last month in this section we talked about rereading, and over the break I reread all my Christmas books for children, including one that is probably number 11 on my Top 10 list, Barbara Robinson’s The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Originally published in 1972 in McCall’s magazine, it still grabs readers from the first sentence: “The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world.” When the Herdman kids take over the main roles in the church Christmas pageant, “Everybody came … to see what the Herdmans would do.” What happens? “Something absolutely unexpected,” because in the end, “It was the best Christmas pageant we ever had.”
2. They self-select reading material.
Someone we all know and love named L.L. Barkat wrote a piece at The Huffington Post titled “More Poetry, Less Stress—5 Helpful Tips.” I combined her no. 2 and no. 3 one December Sunday, brewing a pot of tea and reading a collection by a single poet. In this case, it was Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken and Other Poems. Some of them I knew, and some I didn’t. Since ’twas the season, I enjoyed this line from Christmas Trees: “A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had.” And I really got into The Exposed Nest.
3. They share books and reading with other readers.
I love it when a friend hands me a book, saying, “I just finished this — you should read it.” In this case, when a friend and I discussed our love of Flannery O’Connor, she gifted me with The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage by Paul Elie. It’s a literary biography of Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Walker Percy, and Flannery O’Connor. This is not a book I would have chosen, which is another reason to share your faves with friends — they might end up liking something unexpected.
4. They have reading plans.
This summer, when I read the first of Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series, based on Norse mythology, I planned to read book 3 when it came out in October. Well, I didn’t actually read The Ship of the Dead until December. The good news? I can tell there will be a sequel. The bad news? No idea how long I have to wait for it.
Riordan’s books based on myths have a lot of jokes in them, and my favorite in this volume is a dialogue with a murder of crows (three, in this case). I have a thing for crows and have written far too many poems about them. I always have them speak in a high falutin’ voice, and Riordan’s crows adopt a similar tone: “’Bill, just stop,’ said Godfrey. ‘No one cares about your doctoral thesis on the Norman invasion.’”
5. They show preferences.
Sharon Gibbs sent me a YouTube video by children’s author Mac Barnett, whom I didn’t know. I checked out Extra Yarn from my library. This tale is so in my wheelhouse that I added it to the reading list for Through the Looking Glass, a creative writing workshop that starts February 5. Read it now and be ready!
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage, Paul Elie
Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken and Other Poems, Robert Frost
Reflections: On the Magic of Writing, Diana Wynne Jones (I will use many, many quotes from this book in the workshop)
Memories & Rhymes, Diane M. Mayer (self-published by a poet and friend)
Artemis, Andy Weir
Bunk, Kevin Young
Early Readers and Picture Books
Extra Yarn, Mac Barnett, illus. Jon Klassen
10 Little Rubber Ducks, Eric Carle
The Legend of the Poinsettia, Tomie dePaola
How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, Dr. Seuss
Yertle the Turtle, Dr. Seuss (don’t miss Shmoop’s poem about the collection)
Crow Call, Lois Lowry, illus. Bagram Ibatoulline
The Night Before Christmas, Clement Moore, illus. Jan Brett
Silent Night, Will Moses
If You Take a Mouse to the Movies, Laura Numeroff
Babies Can’t Eat Kimchee!, Nancy Patz and Susan L. Roth
Auntie Claus, Elise Primavera
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, retold by Michael Rosen, ills. Helen Oxenbury (this suggestion came from Glynn Young in the comment section for November’s Pages)
The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg
Owl Moon, Jane Yolen, illus. John Schoenherr (heads up! February’s Children’s Book Club selection!)
Middle Grade and YA
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Ship of the Dead, Rick Riordan
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Barbara Robinson
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)
Started (The Jury is Still Out. Will I Finish?)
None of the above. 🙂
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 December pages. Finished, sliced, started, and abandoned are all fair game.
“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