Summer Book Club: Becoming a Literacy Leader by Jennifer Allen

Matt Renwick is an elementary principal in Mineral Point, Wisconsin, and he invites you to join him and his colleagues as they spend the next few weeks reading and discussing Jennifer Allen’s recent book, Becoming a Literacy Leader. In this guest post Matt talks a bit about the benefits of a summer book study and the details of how his group will discuss Jennifer’s book.

Summer Book Club: Becoming a Literacy Leader by Jennifer Allen
By Matt Renwick

Becoming a Lit Leader 2nd EdFor literacy leaders, summer is often the best time to read, reflect, and recharge. The students and staff are on break, yet we are already thinking about next year. Schedules, calendars, and budget proposals loom large on our to-do list. Yet the quietness that comes with an empty calendar and building offers opportunities for us to reengage with literacy as both a person and a professional.

Personally, I typically take on more fiction than nonfiction in June, July, and August. Having flexibility in my daily schedule, I don’t feel as guilty about reading a little bit longer into the night when I have a real page turner. The long days of the school year are evened out by the slowness of summer.

Professionally, I can unpack a special educational resource that has been sitting on my desk for a while. During the school year I’ll open it up from time to time, glance at a few of the tables or figures, maybe even read an excerpt from a chapter that looks immediately helpful. I’ve wanted to read it in its entirety, but I also want to give it in my undivided attention. That means reading it with a pen in hand to document my thinking in the margins and write a post or two on my blog as a reaction.

This summer, I am fortunate enough to have eight other literacy leaders join me in a summer book club. We will be reading Becoming a Literacy Leader: Supporting Learning and Change by Jennifer Allen (Stenhouse, 2016). This is the second edition of Jennifer’s resource, described on the back cover as a “thoughtful, reflective evolution of her work as she rethinks how her identity and role as a literacy leader have evolved in the ten year’s since she wrote the first edition”.

As we read the text, we will also be sharing our reactions and reflections at the now-collaborative blog Reading by Example (www.readingbyexample.com).  Our timeline will run from early July through the end of August. Our goal is to become more knowledgeable about literacy and leadership through our readings, our writings, and through the conversations via the blog post comments and on social media. Bringing multiple perspectives to a single resource should increase our capacities as literacy leaders: diversity is effective in changing thinking.

Becoming a Literacy Leader is not a book for only instructional coaches and literacy specialists. Anyone in a school can become a leader of literacy. As Franki Sibberson and Karen Szymusiak note in the foreword, “this book as implications for all school leaders – principals, coaches, support staff, central office administrators, and teachers – as we work to make meaning together, to learn, and to grow” (xii). Through this summer reading (and writing) experience, we too look to examine our successes and challenges as Jennifer’s resource guides us in this shared literacy/leadership/learning experience.

Add comment July 12th, 2017


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