CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 33 . . . . April 27, 2018
Today's teachers face the challenge of preparing learners to navigate and participate in an increasingly complex literacy practices. One of my favourite statements in the "Introduction" of the book is, "Take out your readers!" I remember my Grade 4 teacher instructing the class, many years ago, as if a reader was something hidden within, some literacy spirit we would need to "take out" to enter into the book world." This reflection resonated with me and will with others as they are encouraged to reflect upon their own literacy experiences.
Along with an informative foreword and introduction, the content in the book is laid out in five detailed chapters, each centred on a specific theme. For example, Chapter One is entitled, "Connected by Books" and focuses on teaching strategies, including: sharing books with students, monitoring student selection of books, and motivating a community of readers. In Chapter Two, "Connected by Genre", teaching strategies focus on exploring types of writing and considering genre forms. Chapter Three, "Connected by Response", encourages educators to consider the variety of ways that readers may interpret, reflect upon, and represent their responses. A particularly appealing feature of this chapter is Swartz's inclusion of technology and digital literature which is extremely useful for educators navigating the current educational landscape. In Chapter Four, "Connected by Theme", Swartz highlights the importance of tapping into the needs and interests of learners and the importance of connecting response in a number of curriculum areas. Finally, in Chapter Five, "Connected to Curriculum", Swartz highlights the importance of using children's literature to support all curriculum areas.
Each chapter begins with a brief introduction to the particular theme followed by a list of questions for reflection. These questions encourage teachers to reflect upon and develop a personal plan to lead their learners to reading. To assist with this planning, Swartz provides a number of informative learning strategies, including: Larry's class; Larry Visits Classrooms; Guest Voices; Bookshelf; and, Teaching Tips. These are wonderful (sometimes anecdotal) and descriptive teaching strategies that would assist any literacy teacher at any stage of their career. As a bonus, Swartz includes a number of literacy activity templates that are ready for use.
In Take Me to Your Readers, Swartz does just that; he encourages educators to thoughtfully reflect on and consider the strengths and needs of student readers, and he provides a roadmap to assist teachers in planning the next steps in the reading journey of their literacy learners. Moreover, a remarkable feature of the book is Swartz's personal and convincing tone. This is a book that I will return to often. In fact, when I finished reading the book, I wanted to re-read it to delve further into the many wonderful teaching gems that Swartz has provided. Thank you, Larry!
Dr. Tina Benevides holds a PhD (Literacy) from OISE at the University of Toronto and is a part-time faculty member at Nipissing University in North Bay, ON.