CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 17 . . . . January 5, 2018
We have all taught reluctant readers. What do we do to engage these students in reading? Anne Elliott and Mary Lynch, authors of Cultivating Readers, want to help. Experienced classroom teachers, Elliott and Lynch identify six steps to foster student reading engagement, and they structure the book around these steps.
The first step is sharing your reading life. In this chapter, teachers reflect on who they are as readers and share their literate lives with their students. The second step is know your students. This chapter contains strategies and blackline masters (surveys, inventories, etc.) for teachers to get to know their students' reading lives. Modeling the habits of a reader is the third step. In this chapter, Elliott and Lynch discuss how teachers can help students select texts, plan their reading time, think and share their reading, and set goals as readers. The fourth step is making the why of reading visible. This chapter outlines some of the reasons why reading is important, such as reading for pleasure and to improve writing and vocabulary. As well, the chapter contains a number of corresponding student activities. The next step is creating the space. Elliott and Lynch explore whole class, small group and individual reading, classroom libraries, and more. Finally, the last step is nourishing the will to read. This chapter re-examines the previous five steps and contains additional classroom activities that go with each step.
Cultivating Readers can, at times, be light in terms of research. For instance, when talking about the research about teachers themselves not liking reading, the lack of references to important researchers such as Applegate and Applegate is surprising. Also, in a book about reading motivation, having only one reference to Linda Gambrell and none to John Guthrie is rather odd. Some well-researched concepts in reading motivation, such as student choice in reading materials, could have been emphasized more. Still, the teaching concepts presented are sound, and the authors' years of experience in the classroom are evident.
Overall, Elliot and Lynch have written a solid book about infusing a love for reading in the classroom. While there may not be any wildly new concepts in Cultivating Readers, it is an inspiring read with a good quantity of classroom activities to make it a worthwhile purchase for junior and intermediate level teachers.
Dr. Kristen Ferguson teaches literacy education at the Schulich School of Education at Nipissing University in North Bay, ON.