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March 17, 2004 5 min read
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Reading and Literacy

Books for the Journey:
A Guide to the World of Reading

compiled and ed. by Pamela J. Fenner, Anne J. Greer, and John H. Wulsin Jr. (Michaelmas Press, PO Box 702, Amesbury, MA 01913; 343 pp., $19.95 paperback).

A guidebook for adolescent readers, their teachers, and parents that lists, describes, and sorts by genre nearly 1,500 recommended books for youths. Selections include fiction, drama, poetry, mythology, biography, history, and more.

Critical Passages: Teaching the Transition
To College Composition

by Kristin Dombek and Scott Herndon (Teachers College Press, 1234 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY 10027; 131 pp., $22.95 paperback).

This practical handbook examines the gap between high school and college-level writing instruction. It includes writing prompts, classrooms exercises, and model essays that help high school teachers advance their students’ writing from the five-paragraph pyramid familiar to Advanced Placement test-takers to writing that is more complex and more thoughtful. Contemporary theoretical and rhetorical frameworks are also explained.

Imagination and Literacy: A Teacher’s Search for the Heart of Learning
by Karen Gallas (Teachers College Press, 1234 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY 10027; 182 pp., $22.95 paperback).

Investigates imagination in the classroom to uncover its role in literacy learning. The author, a teacher-researcher, argues that the imagination is a central, but unused, part of learning that crosses all subject areas: language arts, science, social studies, and math.

“Is This English?” Race, Language, and Culture
in the Classroom

(by Bob Fecho Teachers College Press, 1234 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY 10027; 192 pp, $21.95 paperback).

Tells the story of the author, a white high school teacher, and his students of color as they engage in issues of literacy, language, learning, and culture. Mr. Fecho uses a method of “critical inquiry” that he says enables students and teachers to cross cultural boundaries and make meaning together, thereby transforming literacy education as well as making use of a pedagogy that empowers students.

Literacy in the Digital Age:
Reading, Writing, Viewing, and Computing

( by Frank B. Withrow (ScarecrowEducation, 4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706; 120 pp., $21.95 paperback).

Examines the transition from a world of paper, print, and books to a digital world of electronic text, television, and the Internet. This book redefines literacy for the digital world and poses the question: What does a digital world mean for schools?

The Between the Lions Book for Parents:
Everything You Need to Know to Help Your Child Learn to Read

( by Linda K. Rath and Louise Kennedy (HarperResource, an imprint of HarperCollins, 10 E. 53rd St., New York, NY 10022; 234 pp., $23.95 hardback).

Co-written by the curriculum director for the popular PBS children’s-learning program “Between the Lions” and a reporter at The Boston Globe, this guide provides teaching methods, resources, and other tools that will assist parents and teachers of subjects other than reading in helping the children in their care learn to read.

The Threads of Reading:
Strategies for Literacy Development

(by Karen Tankersley (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1703 N. Beauregard St., Alexandria, VA 22311; 184 pp., $25.95 paperback).

Describes the six foundational “threads” that students need to study to become capable readers: phonemic awareness, phonics and decoding, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, and higher-order processing. A series of skill-building strategies and activities that teachers can use in the classroom is provided for each thread.

What They Don’t Learn in School:
Literacy in the Lives of Urban Youth

(ed. by Jabari Mahiri (Peter Lang, 275 7th Ave., New York, NY 10001; 288 pp., $29.95 paperback).

In this collection of 10 studies edited by the director of the Center for Urban Education, contributors explore urban scenes, those taking place outside the school building, to identify the specific nature and functions of literacy practices young people use for learning and expression. Following each chapter, a leading scholar in that subject area responds. The book as a whole is written in the perspective of the “New Literacy Studies.” Contributors include Pedro A. Noguera, José David Saldívar, Andrea Abernethy Lunsford, and June Jordan.


“Educators need to recast the idea of partnership more as one in which they parent parents. As growing numbers of teachers and principals have discovered, parents are desperate to have reliable, knowledgeable professionals tell them what’s good for children—often, to tell them specifically what to do. … Parenting parents does not in any way imply condescending to them, ordering them about, demeaning them, failing to listen to them, or discounting their concerns. It means being appropriately clear and assertive about the school’s values and expectations, about what’s good for students, and about the role of parents in the school. It means not withholding professional judgment when a question arises about how a student can be best served or how the school itself can best function. It begins by distinguishing three different forms of parental involvement: in governance, in helping out, and in the lives and learning of their children. These are often lumped together in discussions of partnership and parental participation, but they are different. The first is a mixed blessing; the second can be very helpful; the third is far and away the most important.”

From Family Matters: How Schools Can Cope With the Crisis in Childrearing, by Robert Evans, a clinical psychologist and former high school and preschool teacher who now heads the Human Relations Service in Wellesley, Mass. (Published this month by Jossey-Bass/A Wiley Imprint, 989 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94103; 320 pp., $25 hardback.)

“More often than we might wish to know, federal law is shaped by anecdotes. The power of a personal story, the presence of a wronged parent or child, an exposé of an injustice—all motivate political leaders. Often these stories are reported in the press or told by a witness at a hearing, but often they are the result of a lawmaker’s personal experience. When research contradicts personal experience or political ideology, research usually loses. The recent experience with federal evaluations showing the ineffectiveness of programs aimed at drug-abuse prevention illustrates this clash of ideology and evidence.”

From Political Education: National Policy Comes of Age, former Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education Christopher T. Cross’ history of federal education policy during the latter half of the 20th century—from World War II to the present, with a separate chapter devoted to the No Child Left Behind Act. (Published by Teachers College Press, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027; 194 pp., $24.95 paperback.)


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