Reading Reconsidered bills itself as ‘a practical guide to rigorous literacy instruction’ and it definitely does what it says on the tin. Obviously geared more towards Secondary practitioners – or Middle School and above if you’re in the States – this book provides a detailed look at the struggles that developing readers face as they move towards reading for meaning and analysis. That said, looking through a Primary lens and thinking about curriculum design this book is extremely useful.
The biggest question that this book provokes in my mind was: what do we think about when we choose texts for children? Are we just picking texts that we like? What was on the shelf and easy to grab? It really makes you think critically about the texts that we put before our young readers, and how to provide them with a rich curriculum that prepares them for life.
Doug Lemov’s main thrust is that there are five plagues of the developing reader:
- Archaic Language
- Non-linear time sequences
- Misleading / narratively complex
- Figurative / symbolic texts
- Resistant texts
His blog (here) explains each of these in better detail, and they are really useful when thinking about text choice. It is so easy as a teacher to fall into the trap of picking what you liked or enjoyed as a child (Roald Dahl I’m looking at you here), and we leave children with real gaps in their learning. The book provides you with instruction for how to create a canon of texts that support children with their journey towards literary analysis. I found this amazing document created by Mr A, C and D which gives you further ideas for texts to combat these plagues – it is really useful as a jumping off point!
I have a feeling that in the coming years we’ll really be debating how and why we choose texts in our classrooms, and I think this book will be a really useful one to have in your book corner. Order here!