You might be tempted not to pick up READING RECONSIDERED, thinking perhaps, I’ve already read so many books on literacy: what could this one possibly add?
Subtitled A Practical Guide to Rigorous Literacy Instruction, this book is definitely aptly named. It is stuffed with practical tips, tools, and insights that will help anyone who teaches. Notice I did not say, “anyone who teaches English.” If it was not apparent before the emergence of the Common Core Standards, it should be obvious by now that we must ALL take responsibility for teaching students to read, write, and speak well.
One of my favorite parts (there are many) is the section in which the authors describe “The Five Plagues” of complex text, challenges which often cause students to struggle:
- Archaic Text
- Nonlinear Time Sequence
- Complexity of Narrator
- Complexity of Story (Plot and Symbolism)
- Resistant Text
Their suggestions for how to help students deal with these challenges (e.g., using “pre-complex texts” with young readers so they will be able to access, say, Dickens and Darwin later) could improve instruction across the curriculum if enough teachers see them.
It should be noted that although this book focuses on reading, the authors also devote attention to the role of writing in shaping reading instruction. The book also includes a DVD and online access to 44 video clips demonstrating techniques with actual students. So you can see what works for yourself. And so can your friends. Tell your friends!