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Developing Research-Based Resources for the Balanced Reading Teacher

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Instruction to help good readers read better
Sebastian Wren, Ph.D.

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Book Review 
Most of my time and energy is taken up worrying about how to bring literacy skills to children who do not have them.  I want reading to be a universal gift -- a skill that we all take for granted.  But lost in there somewhere is a desire that all children become talented, advanced readers.  I don't just expect children to be able to read a menu -- I want them to be able to read and understand and enjoy anything they want to.  Basic reading skills are what we tend to worry about, but advanced reading skills should be the goal we want for every student.  

-- To learn more about a particular book, or to purchase a copy of that book, just click on the image of the book cover --

Pathways to Independence
by Jo Worthy, Melinda Gay Ivey, Karen Broaddus
Published in 2001 by Guilford Press

Why do so many children learn to read, but fail to learn to read well?  That's a troubling question when you consider the two steps for reading success that Jeanne Chall proposed -- first children learn to read, then they read to learn.  But for so many children, it seems that they learn to read, and then stop.  They acquire the basics, they acquire the ability to identify words, but they never really become proficient readers who use their skills to thrive and flourish in school.  

Don't get me wrong -- for millions of kids in this country, there are some basic skills problems that were never addressed.  They never really learned to read in the first place.  But for millions more, they clearly have learned to read -- they just don't do it very well, and by extension, do not do it very often.  A lot of kids will admit that they only read when they are forced to.  They don't really like reading; it's a chore; and even though they can do it, they'd like to avoid it whenever they can.

Maybe kids are so unmotivated to read because what we give them to read is so very, very boring.  It has no clear relevance to their lives; they have no ownership in it; they played no part in selecting the reading material; there are usually no options or choices; and there is often no explanation that accompanies the reading to help children see the relevance.  

Worthy addresses the issue of reading volume and motivation in this book, and she discusses an issue that a lot of reading researchers overlook -- why should kids WANT to read?  She offers advice about promoting a desire to read, and infuses strategies that teachers can use to help promote a richer understanding of what they are reading and a better understanding of the relevance of the material that the kids are reading.  And she also talks about promoting an interest in reading and writing in a general sense, not just in an academic, classroom sense.

Learning to Read in the Computer Age
Anne Meyer, David H. Rose, Jeanne S. Chall (Editor), John F. Onofrey
Published in 1999 by Brookline Books

This book is one in a series of books that I heartily recommend (not just this book, but all of the books in this series).  The series is called "From Reading Research to Practice: A Series for Teachers." The series was edited by Jeanne Chall, and every book in the series is short, concrete, and very useful.

Computers offer new challenges, but they also offer many new opportunities.  At the time this book was written, computers were clearly becoming ubiquitous tools in the classroom, but since this book was published, incredible revolutions in the shape and structure of the internet as well as revolutions in the capabilities of education software and new hardware have transpired.  The nature of research has changed with the internet, on-line encyclopedia, and search engines, and so too, the nature of literacy has begun to change slightly.  At the heart of these "new literacies" is still the ability to read and write, but there are technology facets and nuances to literacy that children must master now.

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Last Updated 1-1-05