Monday, July 19, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Readicide

Today's Nonfiction Monday review isn't a nonfiction book for kids or teens, but rather a nonfiction book for adults who care about children and teen reading, and what we can do to promote reading in children and teens!

Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About ItReadicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It Kelly Gallagher

The problem with this book is that the "What You Can Do About It" is really only pertinent if you're a school teacher, and this is a book aimed at school teachers.

But, I do think it's worthwhile read for people concerned about the state of reading and education in this country.

Gallagher's argument is simple--

The way we teach reading in this country is actively making students hate reading, and this hatred of reading is having severely negative consequences on their education. Due to our current over-emphasis on testing* we tend to teach reading by making students read short pieces or novels and then do worksheet after worksheet on them. When we actually let kids read novels, we either fail to give them any context to it, so they can't understand it, or we over-analyze it to death, so they never actually get to enjoy it.

We also don't let them read for fun anymore.

Gallagher's argument is damning and convincing. Luckily, he does have a lot of ways teachers can combat this-- including things to do in the classroom, but also ways to talk to the powers that be. His argument that kids need a balance-- some fun reading, some academic reading, some reading that just gets read, some that gets analyzed, making connections so they know why it matters is inspiring and he makes it seem so easy to implement (although I realize it's probably harder than it looks).

It's a short and easy read, but powerful and I've been thinking about it ever since I finished, wondering what I can do to help, even though I'm not in a classroom.

*Seriously, the SAT, ACT, GRE, and AP tests are all about 3 hours long, and completely grueling. I needed a nap and day off after taking each of them. And I was an adult, or an almost-adult. The standardized tests we make our kids do now are days long. Jobs and school funding depend on these tests. The amount of pressure they're under is insane. Do you know that you can buy study guides for the standardized tests? That everything is around test prep these days? The kids are so stressed that they make me stressed! There's no way this is healthy, and there are so many studies showing how much this hurts learning. But, when in doubt, test! test! and test some more!

See the Nonfiction Monday roundup over at In Need of Chocolate. Check it out!

Book Provided by... interlibrary loan

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1 comment:

Carina said...

I read and reviewed this book a few months ago, and I definitely agree - we put way too much pressure on our students in terms of standardized testing! I really loved the practical suggestions in this book, stuff that I can implement in the classroom.