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)
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.