“I still suffer twinges of guilt when I have to ask students to stop talking during reading workshop. But they’re talking about books!…And they’re not reading. And they’re distracting the readers around them.” – Nancie Atwell, The Reading Zone p. 32
I have experienced this guilt and struggled with silent reading as well. It is often hard to enforce complete silence during reading time. I find the following helpful for sharing excitement for books, but maintaining silence.
- Designate a time for groups to exchange ideas after silent reading. Consider literary circles. Always let students control:
• What they read: students self-select, but may also abandon a book during the daily post-reading group discussion;
• How long they will discuss;
• What they will discuss: they should ask all the questions;
• How they will discuss: they can respond by talking in L1, L2, or sketching, then exchanging sketchbooks.
- Have a system for students to write down ideas to share later. In those moments children have an idea they want to share, get them in the habit of jotting down a quick note on a bookmark or post-it. Note this should be voluntary.
- Be available. Instead of talking to a friend and distracting them, they should be able to share with you. Make sure you whisper with students.
- Books on tape and ear buds as listening stations may help students get in a silent reading habit. It can be hard to pull together throughout the year, but may be worth it for the very first few books. When I first introduce literary circles, I give students a table full of 20 or so good first titles to choose from, each with sets of 5 books, an audio book and listening station. Quickly students familiarize themselves with norms and ater a few weeks/a few books, they get free-reign of the library, typically leaving audio books behind.