Dream Shopping—Books About Teaching, Language Arts, and Literacy

As a former teacher, I continue to get catalogues from educational publishers, and because I am still very interested in the areas of teaching and literacy, I thoroughly enjoy a good browse through them. However, as professional books tend to be expensive, I cannot buy all I like. And so I dog-ear the corners of pages and make notes in the margins, dream about buying them, and put them on a list to look for at the library!

Recently I received catalogues from The National Council of Teachers of English and Teachers College Press. Here are three books I wish I could add to my personal library:

Reading for Learning: Using Discipline-Based Texts to Build Content Knowledge by Heather Lattimer. I was on my school’s improvement committee and one of our goals with in-service classes, etc, was to encourage all subject area teachers to teach reading and textbook strategies that will help their students to read and comprehend subject matter material. NCTE says, “Reading for Learning addresses this issue head-on, exploring the reality that reading and content can, and should, go hand-in-hand to support subject area learning….Lattimer provides practical, classroom-tested approaches to helping students access and critically respond to content-based based texts such as…using strategies to help focus student readers before they engage with texts, Supporting Comprehension in content areas through discussion and writing, analyzing texts and applying content to learning.” I’m always a sucker for a new strategy. As a teacher my objective was to continually add to my “toolbox” of strategies so there’d be one for every kind of student I might encounter. (NCTE Catalogue)

Teaching YA Lit through Differentiated Instruction, by Susan L. Groenke and Lisa Scherff. Students are so much more enthusiastic about self-selected reading. I liked to always include at least one unit each year where students can select their own texts, and read and respond to them. The catalogue says, “Groenke and…Scherff offer suggestions for incorporating YA lit into the high school curriculum.” The book is divided into chapters that introduce popular aspects of young adult literature including: “science fiction, realistic teen fiction, graphic novels, Pura Belpre award winners, nonfiction, poetry, historical fiction,” and “offers suggestions within that genre for whole-class instruction juxtaposed with a young adult novel more suited for independent reading or small-group activities.” The books intent is to help teachers “address the different reading needs and strengths adolescents bring to our classrooms.” As a young adult writer, I am happy to see young adult literature welcomed and made use of in the English/Language Arts classroom. (NCTE Catalogue)

Let’s Poem: The Essential Guide to Teaching Poetry in a High-Stakes, multimodal world (Middle-through High-School by Mark Dressman. Just the title of this book sound fun and you know how I like to have fun with words. The catalogue says, Let’s Poem shows “how to preserve the fun of poetry while also developing critical writing and analysis skills, how to introduce students to the basic formal elements of classic and contemporary poetry, and how to expand their repertoires through the use of digital technology and the Internet.” There are chapters that cover “choral reading of poetry…jazz poetry…spoken word poetry…’remixing’ of canonical poems…and more.” I say, let’s poem. (Teachers College Press Catalogue)

Have you read any of these books? I would love to hear about them, or any like them. Please share your thoughts.