Category Archives: Professional Development

Readicide: How Schools are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It by Kelly Gallagher

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Read-i-cide n: The systematic killing of the love of reading, often exacerbated by the inane, mind-numbing practices found in schools. Reading is dying in our schools. Educators are familiar with many of the factors that have contributed to the decline—poverty, second-language issues, and the ever-expanding choices of electronic entertainment. In this provocative new book, Kelly Gallagher suggests, however, that it is time to recognize a new and significant contributor to the death of reading: our schools. In Readicide, Kelly argues that American schools are actively (though unwittingly) furthering the decline of reading. Specifically, he contends that the standard instructional practices used in most schools are killing reading by: · valuing the development of test-takers over the development of lifelong readers; · mandating breadth over depth in instruction; · requiring students to read difficult texts without proper instructional support; · insisting that students focus solely on academic texts; · drowning great books with sticky notes, double-entry journals, and marginalia; · ignoring the importance of developing recreational reading; and · losing sight of authentic instruction in the shadow of political pressures. Kelly doesn’t settle for only identifyingthe problems. Readicide provides teachers, literacy coaches, and administrators with specific steps to reverse the downward spiral in reading—steps that will help prevent the loss of another generation of readers. (from Goodreads)

Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do about ItReadicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do about It by Kelly Gallagher

I have mixed feelings about this book. The problem is I completely agree with what the author has to say (with one exception, that I’ll address later). I believe Gallagher is preaching to the choir. The people who read this book are already going to be interested in reading and the growing trend of illiteracy amongst our students. They do not need convincing that students need to read more.

Once I got past that though, I felt he had some really useful methods of assisting students in understanding difficult texts. I particularly liked his idea of bringing in current articles that address the theme of a book prior to the students reading the book.

I also agreed with his statement that the point is not that all the students like a particular book. The point is that they get something from it.

And the one exception I mentioned is he believes that the students should not be expected to use the library. He thinks the books should be available primarily in the classroom.

As a school librarian, I agree that all classes should have a well stocked library. However, there is no way a classroom can encompass the thousands of books that the library can offer.

Perhaps the students won’t be bothered to come to the library to check out books on their own . . . so bring them! Give them time in the library to browse and read. That is the point after all.

Okay, rant over.

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The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller

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Donalyn Miller says she has yet to meet a child she couldn’t turn into a reader. No matter how far behind Miller’s students might be when they reach her 6th grade classroom, they end up reading an average of 40 to 50 books a year. Miller’s unconventional approach dispenses with drills and worksheets that make reading a chore. Instead, she helps students navigate the world of literature and gives them time to read books they pick out themselves. Her love of books and teaching is both infectious and inspiring. The book includes a dynamite list of recommended “kid lit” that helps parents and teachers find the books that students really like to read.

The above blurb says it all.  She lets the kids pick the books they want to read and gives them time to read in class.

I am sure there are going to be people who say they can’t afford the time for reading.  They have to cover all the standards to prepare the students for “the test.”  Anybody remember when it was consider a terrible thing to admit “teaching to the test?”

Anyway, Donalyn Miller’s students do score well on the state mandated tests.  She is teaching them to read and to comprehend what they read.  How can that not help on a test?

This book is not a theory book or an ivory tower book.  The author gives solid tips on how to find the time for reading, how to build a classroom library, etc.

As the school librarian, my concern is whether or not the kids are reading.  I do not care whether the book comes from the school library, classroom library, public library, or from home.  I just want them to read.

I plan to offer my sixth grade teachers a deal.  If they will read The Book Whisperer AND implement class reading time, I will use my Scholastic Dollars to purchase books for their room.  Let’s see how open they are to bribes.  -grin-

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