Nancie Atwell: Pump Up the Reading Volume

Given the precious few hours students spend in school per year compared to how many they spend outside of school, it’s critical for them to do as much reading as possible while they’re there. But too often the typical school day is filled with kids waiting for the teacher to help them, transitioning from one subject to the next, and—and worst of all—engaging in "busy work.”

Nancie Atwell, recent winner of the acclaimed Global Teacher Prize, has created an exemplary literacy program based on the understanding that how often and how much students read is the key to developing skilled, passionate, habitual, critical readers. As Nancie herself put it in the New York Times, “It is frequent, voluminous book reading that makes readers.” In her Scholastic book, The Reading Zone, she draws on evidence gathered in thirty years of classroom teaching to establish the top ten conditions for making engaged reading possible for students at all levels and provides the practical support and structures necessary for achieving those conditions.

Curious to learn more? Here are some links:

The Global Teacher Prize website, which includes an interview with Nancie on her teaching practices and principles

An excerpt from The Reading Zone

Reading Interview—an invaluable tool for getting to know your students as readers

A news report on Nancie's remarkable school, the Center for Teaching and Learning, in Edgecomb, Maine

"Secret Gardens," Nancie’s fascinating essay on the evolution of her own voluminous reading, from Open a World of Possible: Real Stories About the Joy and Power of Reading