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.
With the publication of our own Glynn Young’s third book in his Dancing Priest series, I set aside time in February to reread the first two and the new one, Dancing King. The books are so real that at times I catch myself thinking that such-and-such a plot point actually happened in real life. I’m so into these characters that while buying a Valentine’s card for my husband, I set one aside thinking, “Sarah should give this one to Michael.” But the main reason to read the series is that no one can write a crowd scene like Glynn.
2. They self-select reading material.
I want to go back to a book I didn’t get a chance to talk about from last month, Neil Gaiman’s short story collection Trigger Warning. I often self-select Gaiman. I’ve read his adult fiction, his children’s fiction, even some of his Sandman comic books. In this book, I expected the creepy stories (“Click-Clack the Rattlebag,” “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains”), but I didn’t expect the sweet ones, particularly, from within “A Calendar of Tales,” the July one, the October one, and the December one.
3. They share books and reading with other readers.
In case you missed it, TS Poetry Press just released a new book by Callie Feyen, The Teacher Diaries: Romeo & Juliet. Callie draws from her memories of being a teen to connect with the teens she teaches as they read a timeless story about teens. It’s also a memoir about being a mother to two young girls. I’ve already read it twice. As Callie begins to look toward the teen years of her own children, she says this about Romeo & Juliet: “Nothing in this story is easy. Everyone is right. Everyone is wrong. We learn to walk through the story holding onto both of these truths.”
4. They have reading plans.
I have a new reading plan. Along with Callie’s book, TS Poetry also released Romeo & Juliet, by the Bard himself, edited by Sara Barkat, with essays by Sara, Callie, Hannah Haney, and Karen Swallow Prior, along with annotations by Callie. I have not looked at this tale of Shakespeare’s since ninth grade. Honestly, I know more about it from the movie Shakespeare in Love than I know from actually reading it. That’s because I didn’t have a teacher like Callie. In the Acknowledgements, Callie thanks her students for working with her through “this awkward, mysterious, horrifying, wonderful play.” Before reading The Teacher Diaries, that description of Romeo & Juliet would have intimidated me. Now it entices me.
5. They show preferences.
Unless it’s historical in nature, I prefer my nonfiction not in a book but in a well-written, deep-diving article. Like this one, Promethea Unbound by Mike Mariani. It tells the story of Promethea and her mother, Georgia, and it examines what it’s like to be a child prodigy: “[Author Andrew] Solomon posits that ‘being gifted and being disabled are surprisingly similar: isolating, mystifying, petrifying.’” The story is also about poverty in America. It starts at Stanford’s Linear Accelerator Center and ends with a nod to the archeological site at Delphi in Greece.
Early Readers and Picture Books
A Picture Book of Eleanor Roosevelt, by David A. Adler
Christina Katerina and the Time She Quit the Family, Patricia Lee Gauch
Fancy Nancy, Jane O’Connor, illus. Robin Preiss Glasser
Degas and the Dance, Susan Goldman Rubin
Alamo Across Texas, Jill Stover
Has Winter Come?, Wendy Watson
Middle Grade and YA
(sadly, no, but in the Through the Looking Glass workshop we covered chapters from these classics)
Ramona the Pest, Beverly Cleary
The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsberg
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
Sliced (Got what I needed and moved on or plan to finish someday.)
Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, Dr. Stuart Brown
Abandoned (Not my cup of tea, it bogged down quickly, or others beckoned.)
Started (Will I finish? Of course!)
Romeo & Juliet, William Shakespeare, edited by Sara Barkat
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 February 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