I’ve always felt comfortable about teaching writing. The credit there goes to Nick Ferentinos, my high school English and journalism teacher, who made sure I could put a sentence together.
But teaching reading? What’s that supposed to be about?
Maybe I had no clue because I was trained as a social studies teacher. But then I realized that even high school English teachers — who focus on writing and literature — didn’t always have the answers about teaching reading.
So a few years ago, when I finally admitted to myself that I had become an English teacher (after several years of denial), I decided to do some reading about reading.
After poring over 50+ titles, I’ve found a few favorites:
Readicide, by Kelly Gallagher
This book has it all. It argues that testing is killing our students’ interest in reading. Mr. Gallagher believes in a hybrid approach to reading instruction: part independent reading, part reading that the teacher leads. He also likes a combination of fiction and non-fiction, and his Article of the Week gets kids to know about their world. Start here first.
The Reading Zone, by Nancie Atwell
After getting inspired by reading Readicide, this book will help you think about how to build a reading culture in your classroom. Ms. Atwell, author of the famous In the Middle, is the expert of the workshop model. She believes strongly in the right of students to choose their books and to improve by reading voluminously.
Lifers: Learning from At-Risk Adolescent Readers, by Pamela M. Mueller
This book reminded me that “reluctant readers,” as most people call them, aren’t mean-spirited or ignorant about reading. Rather, most of them have felt failure and disappointment about reading for years. Ms. Mueller writes several case studies of students struggling with reading and offers an excellent intervention model to encourage kids not to give up.
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I hope I can inspire the teachers with whom I work to take the time to read about reading this year. It’s not easy during the school year, but sometimes, reading a good book is a great means of professional development.
What other books about reading do you suggest? What should I read next?