10 Authentic Reading Behaviors We Should Be Teaching

If we want our students to grow into lifelong readers, we need to focus on helping them develop authentic reading behaviors, the same behaviors adult readers do. These are real. They are not behaviors we do for school; they are what real readers do.


Much of my thinking here has been developing as I have been participating in a summer book club with some of my colleagues. We have been reading Donalyn Miller’s The Book Whisperer with this great group. Many of Miller’s ideas connect to this idea of authentic reading experiences, so some of these ideas come from her book with my own thinking added. Here are ten things adult readers do that we should explicitly teach to our students.

1. Use a bookmark. – Kids who don’t see adults using bookmarks don’t see their value. Some kids need to hear us explain how they are used.

2. Give reading recommendations. – Adults who read a good book tell other adults about that book. When a student finishes a book, one of my favorite questions to ask is, “Who else in the room might like this book?”

3. Accept reading recommendations. – As important as giving recommendations is being open to them, even if it’s a genre which isn’t a favorite.

4. Keep a record of books we’ve read. – Some adults keep notebooks of these, and even more use websites. This list can be an important source to help teachers know their students as readers.

5. Talk about books. – This should be done in all classrooms every day. It increases the excitement around reading and helps students process and remember what they have read.

6. Mark their thinking in texts they will be discussing. – Recording thoughts, feelings, and questions in preparation for a book club is what adults do. We should teach kids the reasons behind these types of requirements.

7. Stop marking their thinking when it is unnecessary. – Nothing kills independent reading more than requiring kids to complete five sticky notes destined to go straight to the recycle bin. This is a waste of valuable reading time.

8. Be excited for release dates. – Real readers count the number of days until the next book by their favorite author is due on store shelves. We can connect with students as we await the same new titles.

9. Use a computer to search for books. – While adults sometimes go to the bookstore or library just to browse and choose, most of the time we know the book we want before we get there. Modeling this for kids will make school library trips more meaningful.

10. Write book reviews…sometimes. – Most fervent readers have reviewed a book on Goodreads, Amazon, or their own blog. No fervent readers have reviewed every book they’ve ever read. We should help students find this balance.

Thanks again to Donalyn Miller and her wonderful book for inspiring this blog post.


About mrwhitehb

I teach 4th grade and am the chair of the Young Hoosier Book Award Committee for grades 4-6.

Posted on June 29, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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