Revisiting the Reading Workshop by Barbara Orehovec and Marybeth Alley

Why should you read this book?

COVER Revisting the Reading Workshop
“It’s your turn. Now go read with them.”     Barbara Orehovec and Marybeth Alley

You should read this book if you want to do your part in creating students who become lifelong independent readers.  Children become readers when they have the chance to read a lot and choose what they read.  Teaching reading in a workshop format provides these opportunities to children on a daily basis.  Revisiting the Reading Workshop by Barbara Orehovec and Marybeth Alley show us how we can meet this goal of lifelong independent readers.  They share both the education research that supports teaching reading this way and they explain how you can implement a Reading Workshop in stages in your classroom.

Orehovec and Alley say in their introduction that, “Our Reading Workshops are dynamic, stimulating places.  Our students have ample time to engage in authentic reading experiences.  They are learning to act as we do, as real readers do.  They value personal judgments, comfy places, friendly recommendations, and informed choices.  They respond, reflect, and discuss their reading.  They read for real reasons.”  After I read this, I was confident that I would learn from the work of these teachers.

I found Revisiting the Reading Workshop to be a gentle guide to learning about a Reading Workshop.  If offered me the tools to embark on using a Reading Workshop format.  My students fall in love with reading because of the independence and responsibility they encounter in a Reading Workshop.

How can you use this book?

Revisiting the Reading Workshop provides a step-by-step guide to the different parts of Reading Workshop.  Each chapter centers on a different element of the Reading Workshop.  This book begins with the “why” for a Reading Workshop; moving to how to teach a mini-lesson; and ending with concrete ways to assess and record what your students are learning.

It is one of first books I recommend to teachers who are new to a Reading Workshop.  I know it will inform, but not overwhelm.

Orehovac and Alley write as if they are having a conversation with you.  It is inviting.  It gives you time to mull over an idea or suggestion.  It is orderly, but not prescriptive.  Orehovac and Alley share their classroom experiences and their struggles and how they managed them.  Here are the titles of the eight chapters:

  1. Establishing the Literate Community
  2. Setting the Stage
  3. Preparing to Teach
  4. Establishing Routines
  5. Pursuing Meaning
  6. Exploring the Text
  7. Reading is Real Readers
  8. Informing Instruction

Within each chapter, there are many different guides to help understand the Reading Workshop and to use with students during Reading Workshop.  These include:

  • Text boxes called “Teacher to Teacher” that highlight experiences and recommendations
  • Note card-sized clips that summarize important features of a Reading Workshop
  • Examples of teacher mini-lesson plans for Reading Workshop
  • Samples of student work using one of the many templates that are provided.

In closing, I often refer to Revisiting the Reading Workshop because it reminds me of the concerns that newer users may have as they begin their journey to create students who are independent readers.  This book would be a welcome choice for a book study with your teacher colleagues.