Thursday, March 18, 2021

Donalyn Miller and a Pivot #SOL21

Join Two Writing Teachers and other teacher-writers as we share a slice of life every single day in the month of March. 


Does this word make you cringe? It seems to be a current buzzword that may have a negative connotation attached to it. Many teachers have had to pivot this past year in ways we never thought we could and in ways we didn't want to. 

If I think back to my early teaching years, I remember a pivot. It was the summer before my second year of teaching, and The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller was published. I wasn't on social media at the time, so I honestly do not know how I heard about the book. But I devoured it and soaked in her every word.

In my first year of teaching, I taught reading the way I was taught - the way I thought I was "supposed" to teach. We read a story from the anthology every week and completed the accompanying worksheets. I hated it, and so did my students. 

I knew this way of teaching wasn't working. I knew better ways of teaching were out there. I knew I needed a change. A pivot.

That summer I read The Book Whisperer, and I slowly added her ideas to my classroom. I saw student engagement shift. I saw motivation to read increase. I saw my passion for teaching grow.

This book showed me "that's the way we've always done it" is not always the right way to do it. This book gave me permission to make the changes I needed to make for my students and for me. This book validated my beliefs. This book was the pivot that turned my teaching in a new direction. This book saved me. 

And I have not looked back.

Donalyn recently posted about the anniversary of the book on Facebook. She states, "Twelve years ago today, I became a published author when The Book Whisperer was released. I never imagined how my personal and professional life would change."

Me neither, Donalyn. Me neither.

Happy 12th anniversary! And thank you for helping so many teachers find the positive in the pivot.


  1. Ever since I began teaching I felt that the method courses I took did little to prepare me for how to teach. If anything, they taught me how not to teach. It is great to find a book that speaks to you and changes your approach to teaching for the better.

  2. I love this post so much. Donalyn certainly has done so much for teachers, and she’s a very generous person. The Book Whisperer and Readacide dropped around the same time. Both are now iconic texts for teachers.

  3. I agree that The Book Whisperer is a wonderful book! Giving kids choice and time and ownership of the books they read is of utmost importance. Here's to Donalyn Miller and an important post.

  4. Thank you for the reminder that pivot doesn't have to have anything to do with this last year!

  5. Love this idea of redeeming the word pivot! After the year we've had I think we need some redemption. Sometimes I need to pivot my attitude every morning! Sometimes twice a day. I love the way illustrated this with the change you made in your instruction. Also a great reminder that we are all working progress and we will look back on things we are doing now and realize we have found better ways. This was encouraging. Tw

  6. This is a great post about a fantastic book that changed my teaching, as well. I saw her post the other day, and I realized I read her book shortly after it was published, so that would have been my third or fourth year of teaching. What a great word to reflect upon. I can think of many other pivots in my career. Thank you for sharing this!

  7. Yes! We teachers and readers all say thank you to the book whisperer!

  8. I think The Book Whisperer should be required reading for all college education classes. It is life changing. I think your pivot brought you to Warsaw so we could meet. :-)