I finally bought a copy of Kelly Gallagher‘s Readicide. I wish I had read it sooner so that I could have joined in the VoiceThread and the English Companion Ning discussions. However, I have it now and want to promote it to anyone working with K-12 students! In less than 150 pages, the author clearly explains “how schools are killing reading and what you can do about it.”
If you are at a site that does not support a minimum of 15 minutes per day of silent sustained reading – read this book.
If you are at a site that mandates AR (Accelerated Reader) – read this book.
If you are at a site that mandates a reading anthology exclusively, at the cost of removing novels – read this book.
If you are looking for strategies to engage students in literature and promote a life-long love of reading – read this book.
With so many thought-provoking ideas, powerful strategies, and even links to the supporting research that are applicable to elementary through high school readers, Readicide would make for a great faculty book club read. I’ll leave you with Kelly’s closing words:
If we are to find our way again – if students are to become avid readers again – we, as language arts teachers, must find our courage to recognize the difference between the political worlds and the authentic worlds in which we teacher, to swim against those current educational practices that are killing young readers, and to step up and do what is right for our students.
We need to find this courage. Today. Nothing less than a generation of readers hangs in the balance.”
August 2, 2009 at 1:23 pm
Readicide is horrible. Don’t waste your money on this book. Poorly written. Author passes off personal opinions as if they are supported by research. Advice totally flies in the face of common sense. Written by an ivory tower type, not someone in the trenches who actually works with kids. You can’t get them to love reading until you get them to read!! When are you idealists going to stop this drivel and get into the real world. Reading anthologies and use of Accelerated Reader has helped make it possible for many of my students to discover the joy of reading and got them to become avid readers. This book is baloney, hooey, junk.
August 2, 2009 at 5:03 pm
Alex, I’ve mostly taught grades 5 & 6, so I’ll speak from that perspective. I think Kelly is spot-on about the difference it can make in young readers’ lives when they find the ‘flow’- the book they couldn’t put down. Where I would notice significant jumps in literacy (yep, in test scores too) would be when students who previously read only when required to would get hooked on an specific author or a genre.
I simply haven’t seen the same dramatic jumps when a reading program is limited strictly to an anthology. Although I really like anthologies as a source for teaching short stories, I’m not as enthusiastic about the snippets from novels. Also, given the expense of paying author costs, seems so many anthologies have a few excellent pieces of both fiction and expository text but also a fair amount of mediocre pieces not likely to promote those inter-textual kinds of connections that outstanding writing so often promotes.
August 3, 2009 at 9:57 am
Hmmmm, Alex, I wonder if we read the same book. Readicide was not written by “an ivory tower type” Kelly Gallagher IS “someone in the trenches who actually works with kids” at Magnolia High School in Anaheim (check the teacher roster http://magnolia.auhsd.k12.ca.us/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=14755&type=d&termREC_ID=&pREC_ID=staff&rn=4286444)
He has been a statewide trainer for the Puente Project, a University of California outreach program that prepares under-represented high school students for successful transition into universities.
I am a full-time 8th grade English teacher with 37 years of experience. Readicide contains a lot of common sense and concrete classroom examples and is supported by extensive authoritative research studies. The fact that it is such a readable book also underscores his “in the trenches” experience.
His point IS that you need to get kids reading, and reading a wide variety of material, in order to get them to love reading. I’m glad that your students found motivation in anthology selections and novels, but more likely it was your approach and stimulating interaction that did the trick. (By the way, there are no objective studies that show that Accelerated Reader has any effect in motivating kids to be life-long readers. It is a testing vehicle, nothing more.)
The book has thought-provoking insights on kids’ deficits in background knowledge, on how we sometimes over-teach and under-teach books, and how to get kids (and not just AP kids) to be life-long readers.
Other readers of this blog, judge for yourself (and you don’t even have to “waste your money on this book”). You can read the book at http://www.stenhouse.com/shop/pc/viewPrd.asp?idcategory=0&idproduct=9158#toc – (scroll down and click on “Browse the entire book online) – I’d especially recommend Chapter 3 in light of Alex’s comments. But if you’re like me, you will want to have your own copy to mark up the arguments, evidence, and support that back you up in being the kind of teacher you know your kids deserve.
August 8, 2009 at 4:26 pm
Thanks, Sandy, for your very insightful comments. And I agree, each chapter reflects the author’s ‘in-the-trenches’ observations and classroom tested strategies.
I would love to have Kelly Gallagher as a guest speaker for my school district!
August 7, 2009 at 6:12 pm
The key to effective SSR is to properly match reading levels of the text to reading levels of the student, while maintaining some semblance of student choice.
Learn how to match reading levels of texts to reading levels of your students without time-consuming assessments. Also, learn how much independent reading is needed to make grade to grade progress. Check out How to Choose the Right Book.
August 8, 2009 at 7:11 pm
Thanks for sharing the link to your website. It’s exciting to learn that a district colleague is developing materials help students on their literacy journeys.
Very impressive, Mark:-)
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