Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guest Blogger: Joy Rancatore on "The Book Whisperer"

Social media like Facebook enable you to become reacquainted with people you haven't seen or heard from in years. That was the case with Joy Rancatore, who I first knew when she was a young girl growing up in South Carolina. We connected a few years ago and I discovered that she's now a mother of two little ones, a writer, photographer, and homeschool mother.  

She recently posted this review on Goodreads and gave me permission to share it with you.

May I just say I would LOVE to meet Donalyn Miller, hang out with her at a local coffee shop and enjoy letting a latte grow cold as we discuss our love of books and share recommendations back and forth. Her conversational tone in The Book Whisperer made me feel as though I was having a discussion with a best friend. Many of her memories of growing up with her nose in a book conjured up flashbacks of my own childhood and brought smiles to my face and an occasional laugh.

If all teachers were like Donalyn Miller, I would stop homeschooling my children today! She encourages other teachers and administrators to allow children to read--freely and a lot--in order to make them book readers for life and, as an added bonus, do better on required standardized testing. Why is her opinion not more widely adopted as truth when, clearly, her methods work? I have known for years the road to success for everyone--whether they are a "natural" reader or not--is paved with hardcovers, paperbacks and e-books. In order to understand life, learn about the world around us and gather facts and skills necessary to everyday life, we MUST read! And, as Miller says, reading shouldn't be a school thing; it should be a life thing. I lost my passion for reading in high school and college amidst all the required reading and class-shared novels. It took me several years to rediscover the joys of reading for pleasure and purpose and, often, both at once!

While I am an advocate for the great need of better training in grammar and punctuation in schools, I agree with Miller that simply reading good literature serves as invaluable examples. I would love to find out more about how she approaches teaching these things or if that falls into another teacher’s block.

I jotted down several wonderful quotes from this book. Here is my favorite: "Reading changes your life. Reading unlocks worlds unknown or forgotten, taking travelers around the world and through time. Reading helps you escape the confines of school and pursue your own education. Through characters--the saints and sinners, real or imagined--reading shows you how to be a better human being." 18

I do have to include my opinion on the book as a whole. I thought Miller's content was outstanding and well-presented; however, I was disappointed to discover grammar and punctuation errors throughout the book. Also, the placement of some of the pull out materials and the references to them were confusing.

The Book Whisperer is a must-read for teachers, parents, school administrators and readers.

Joy grew up with a book in one hand and a pen in the other.
She presently lives in Slidell, La. 
Thank you Joy, for sharing this review.  The Book Whisperer reinforces my motto, "If you want to write, read!" 


Linda Phillips said...

Sounds like a good read, Carol. If this is a bona-fide publisher, which I assume it is, why so many errors? Just curious.

Carol Baldwin said...

Good question, Linda. I'll have to ask Joy!

Anonymous said...

Joy's a kindred spirit! Book lover, author, and homeschooler! I'm a homeschool consultant in PA, author, photographer, and all around kid and horse lover. Kudos to Joy!
(When a child gets hooked on reading, new worlds open up to him that he never even imagined before.)

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Marsha! A number of my friends are homeschool parents and many seem to embrace the importance and joy of reading. Hmm... a connection no doubt!

Joy said...

Linda, That's a good question which I asked myself the whole time I was reading! Jossey-Bass is an imprint of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. To my knowledge, I've never read anything else with their imprint; so I can't compare this book with others in regards to how clean the copy is. Given the highly academic nature of these companies, I would expect much better. And, I felt these errors kind of stepped on some of the great points the author was making.
Marsha, thank you! Maybe our paths will cross one of these days--best wishes in all your endeavors!

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

I've had teachers highly recommend The Book Whisperer. Have yet to read it.

I agree that more reading builds in that basic understanding of grammar and punctuation.

Thanks Joy and Carol!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Joyce. ALl writers know that reading is a fundamental building block. Besides, we depend on readers for our audience!

Donalyn Miller said...

I'm pleased that you enjoyed my book, The Book Whisperer. In regards to the statement regarding numerous grammar and punctuation errors in the book, it simply isn't true. Wiley and Jossey-Bass are esteemed publishers with a long-standing reputation in the industry. The book was reviewed by a developmental editor and two copyright editors. While it is not unheard of for a book to contain a few errors, the belief that The Book Whisperer is rife with such errors isn't true.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. Since I haven't actually read your book (but now want to!) I'll have to let Joy respond to your comments. I know that your publisher has a very good reputation for publishing excellence.

Joy said...

Donalyn, Thank you for your comment. I was quite impressed with the list of materials Wiley and Jossey-Bass publishes. I'll be happy to send you a message with the specific issues I found. Feel free to message me on Goodreads with an email address or however you would like me to contact you. Since I am on deadline today and tomorrow it will be later in the week when I can send you a better response. Thank you for such a wonderful book! I will continue to recommend it to everyone!

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