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.
Sometimes reading takes no time at all, like when you dive into a novel and let it swallow you. That happened unexpectedly this month when I heard author Amy Gentry speak at an event sponsored by the Writers League of Texas. She writes thrillers, which is not a genre I often read, but she was such a compelling speaker on the subject of character that I read Good as Gone in one fell swoop (with the caveat that I did skim a few of the more violent chapters). Then I spent a morning journaling about the novel. It was time well-spent.
2. They self-select reading material.
It’s been a Barbara Cooney month. March’s Children’s Book Club selection was Roxaboxen. In the Through the Looking Glass workshop we read Miss Rumphius, and I self-selected two more of Cooney’s books from the library. My favorite was Ox-Cart Man, actually by poet Donald Hall and illustrated by Cooney. It begins where any other book would end, with the man selling his wares in the fall. Because here, losing it all is the beginning of a new year of stitching and whittling and carving and planting and caring for animals. The book ends in May, but we know that come October, the whole cycle will repeat.
3. They share books and reading with other readers.
Glynn Young recommended Tyndale: The Man Who Gave God an English Voice by David Teems in the comment section for January’s Reading in the Wild. I’d been reading a lot of fiction, and history seemed like a perfect change of pace. It’s primarily about William Tyndale’s translation of the New Testament and parts of the Old Testament into English, and it’s a celebration of good words. If I were to reduce this book to a single sentence it would be this one: “And again, the laurel granted to the King James Bible, the high honor it has enjoyed in its four hundred years, rightly belongs to William Tyndale.” Or maybe, of Tyndale’s technique, “One word replaces three. Three syllables replace six.” Teems writes with love and a bit of flair to demonstrate that Tyndale had as much influence on the development of English as Shakespeare.
4. They have reading plans.
Which brings me to The Bard. Remember last month I said my plan was to read Romeo & Juliet? Well, I did. Guess what? With Callie Feyen’s annotations, it wasn’t hard. Also, Sara Barkat’s essay “Shakespeare Favored the Girl” gave me needed perspective. I’ve tended to put Juliet in a box she doesn’t deserve, not recognizing that she acts with agency — “something that keeps being denied her by her parents and her position,” Barkat writes. I also appreciated reading these passages (many of which I’ve come across as poems) in context, as part of a narrative. If I did it, you can too!
5. They show preferences.
My reading preferences do not include phrases like “rainbow magic” or “crafts fairies” or “flowy, sea-green dress sparkling with silver stars.” But I read a book — with a pink cover, no less — that included all those words. Why? Because I could not resist Libby, the Writing Fairy by Daisy Meadows, from a Scholastic series. (Also, it cost 25 cents at the resale shop.) The next time I’m writing a story that’s going awry, I’ll know who to blame: “It’s because of Jack Frost!”
Good as Gone, Amy Gentry
Poems, C.S. Lewis (started in January)
Romeo & Juliet: the full play—includes essays and annotations by Callie Feyen of The Teacher Diaries, by William Shakespeare, edited Sara Barkat
Tyndale: The Man Who Gave God an English Voice, David Teems
Early Readers and Picture Books
Eleanor, Barbara Cooney (This was much better than the picture book biography I read last month about Roosevelt)
Miss Rumphius, Barbara Cooney
Ox-Cart Man, Donald Hall, illus. Barbara Cooney
Instructions, Neil Gaiman, illus. Charles Vess
Sliced (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 (Will I finish? Of course!)
The Which Way Tree, Elizabeth Crook
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 March 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