What Nancy Atwell (and her students) say about reading workshop

Nancy Atwell is the author of the many-times revised In the Middle, a must read for middle school language arts instructors.  In it, Atwell discussed what the processes of independent writing and reading are and why each is essential in the development of social literacy.  

One of the first mini-lessons she documents is the listing of reasons for such workshopping.  She has students brainstorm their own reasons, then adds several of her own, as follows:

  • to become real readers for a lifetime
  • to learn how to choose books
  • to read new books
  • to learn when and how to abandon books
  • to learn new words and meanings
  • to learn from other writers about how to improve your own writing
  • to discover books we love
  • to discover authors we love
  • to discover genre we love
  • to learn from each other about good books, authors, and genre
  • to have vicarious experiences
  • to escape
  • to learn what good readers do
  • to become more fluent and proficient
  • to unlearn bad habits
  • to learn how and when to pace ourselves as readers
  • to gain experience with new schemas [connections:  text to self, text to world, text to text]
  • to learn to read deliberately, with better understanding and insight
  • to read often 
  • to read a lot--and write about it to share your involvement and store your experience