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Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It [Paperback]

by Kelly Gallagher
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 28, 2009 1571107800 978-1571107800
Read-i-cide n: The systematic killing of the love of reading, often exacerbated by the inane, mind-numbing practices found in schools.
Reading is dying in our schools. Educators are familiar with many of the factors that have contributed to the decline—poverty, second-language issues, and the ever-expanding choices of electronic entertainment. In this provocative new book, Kelly Gallagher suggests, however, that it is time to recognize a new and significant contributor to the death of reading: our schools.
In Readicide, Kelly argues that American schools are actively (though unwittingly) furthering the decline of reading. Specifically, he contends that the standard instructional practices used in most schools are killing reading by:
·         valuing the development of test-takers over the development of lifelong readers;
·         mandating breadth over depth in instruction;
·         requiring students to read difficult texts without proper instructional support;
·         insisting that students focus solely on academic texts;
·         drowning great books with sticky notes, double-entry journals, and marginalia;
·         ignoring the importance of developing recreational reading; and
·         losing sight of authentic instruction in the shadow of political pressures.
Kelly doesn’t settle for only identifying the problems. Readicide provides teachers, literacy coaches, and administrators with specific steps to reverse the downward spiral in reading—steps that will help prevent the loss of another generation of readers.

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Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It + The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Stenhouse Publishers (January 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1571107800
  • ISBN-13: 978-1571107800
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
379 of 391 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gallagher Called Me to Action February 14, 2009
I'm going to admit something to you that I probably ought to keep to myself: I'm ashamed of who I am, both as a reading teacher and an outspoken member of the Teacher Leaders Network. You see, over the past five years, I've changed my instruction in an attempt to see my students score better on standardized reading tests despite a strong belief that what I'm doing is bad for kids.

Now, don't get me wrong: I'm not doing anything illegal---This isn't Houston, after all!

(Sorry for dragging you into this, Rod.)

It's just that reading isn't ever a pleasure activity in my room. Instead, it's an opportunity for intense, skill-based instruction and multiple choice questions. Even the teaching innovation that I'm proudest of---a daily current event lesson integrating language arts and social studies that gives my students a broad understanding of the world that many adults would envy---has morphed into just another opportunity to show my kids how to eliminate wrong answer choices.

Everything I do seems to be overtaught.

In fact, I can't remember the last time that I DIDN'T stop my students in the middle of a passage that we were tackling together to ask a few random question about tone, author's purpose, bias, main idea, fact/opinion----or any of the other 47 reading skills that my kids are expected to master by May. We take prepackaged assessments every three weeks, dissect the results of each exam, deliver remediation and enrichment worksheets mini-lessons, and then start preparing for the next assessment.

That's reading instruction in my room.

While I haven't asked because I'm afraid of the answers I'll get, I'd bet that my kids can't stand reading. To them, reading can't be fun.
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77 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important, timely and gutsy call for change February 12, 2009
Kelly Gallagher is the author of two excellent books on reading, "Deeper Reading: Understanding Challenging Texts 4-12" and "Reading Reasons." Now, in addition to those, he's the author of a classic volume of inconvenient truth that belongs on the shelf right next to Nancie Atwell.

Simply put, the way schools teach reading makes kids not want to read. Twenty-five years ago, when I was in middle school, I could have attested to that personally. A highly intelligent, highly verbal and highly motivated student, I nevertheless grew to resent and detest my English classes. How was this possible? It was the accumulated result of the pure artificiality of how reading and literature were taught, combined with a few instances of underteaching. If I had been taught according to the workshop method advocated by Atwell and others today, I might well have gone on to become an English major.

So now, knowing what I know about the state of reading research and my own experiences as a frustrated student, I want to teach kids a different way, a way that will keep them intrinsically motivated to read and continually pushing themselves to greater, more satisfying challenges. But guess what? Twenty-five years later, schools are STILL DOING THE EXACT SAME THINGS that turned me off way back when. If anything, matters have gotten somewhat worse, as the curriculum is purged of its few authentic elements to make room for standardized test preparation. Have we learned nothing at all?

In his recent book "Outliers: The Story of Success," Malcolm Gladwell makes a simple point: To master anything, no matter what it is, you need to spend about 10,000 hours doing it.
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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for reading teachers... March 22, 2009
I found this book as I was looking for Aimee Buckner's new reading notebook title and thought...this sounds interesting. As a teacher of 7th graders in a middle school focused on reading and writing workshop models, I bought this hoping to motivate and energize my readers. These are wonderful students who just are not motivated to read. I wondered why...when I teach a text as a class, they can discuss and analyze in such rich ways but they wouldn't do the same on their own. After reading this, which is an easy weekend read, I realized I was committing...readicide. I was expecting kids to be critical analysts in their own reading. I was asking for pages and pages of thoughts and quotes, and reflections on each book they read when really, I just wanted them to read more. In a building where we only grade on standards and students lack accountability, we cannot grade them on "participation", so I felt forced to create assessments in which the analysis of their reading was graded.
But I lacked the 50/50 balance that Kelly discusses. From now on, I am changing my requirement to build in accountability, without drowning students in responses to a novel. I like and will try the one pager. I also was guilty of reading and dissecting class novels for...ughhh...months. :( No wonder they hated it..."when is this book gonna end???" they would say. I also found, thank goodness, that I was doing somethings naturally too! The lenses for reading, the reflections, and the focusing in part on skills and meta cognition.
What I like is that Kelly gives real advice to build instruction...this is not just a book filled with theory, but gives simple ideas to implement.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars readicide about schools and reading skills
This is a very interesting book for a retired teacher to read about how overemphasis on testing is killing kids desire to read.
Published 1 month ago by kc
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes Me Appreciate My Own School Very Much
Reading this short book by Kelly Gallagher really makes me appreciate my school and the administrators guiding the ship. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Neil Hepworth
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read!
This book should be required reading for every English or Reading Teacher! It changed my way of thinking about teaching Reading.
Published 2 months ago by Beth Doherty
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent High School Resource
The other teachers on my English II team were equally impressed, with each team member ordering their own copy. Read more
Published 2 months ago by nancy hill
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad book.
This book was recommended to me by a professor and she was right about it. Not a bad read, but you really have to want to read it.
Published 4 months ago by Megan Hieber
5.0 out of 5 stars Readicide is an eye opener!
A must read! I recommend that every teacher and every parent with school age children should read this book and take action!
Published 4 months ago by Gladys Landing
5.0 out of 5 stars Quick and easy read that will leave you thinking
So often as English teachers we are trained to teach students how to pull a book apart without even thinking about what that means for the text as a whole. Read more
Published 5 months ago by cch829
5.0 out of 5 stars easy read with big message
Gallagher writes in real language that is not only easy to read and enjoy, but is also very powerful. Read more
Published 6 months ago by third year mom
5.0 out of 5 stars So true
Absolutely agree whole heartedly with the author's position backed up with facts and data. A fight I fight daily as well.
Published 6 months ago by Julia E Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Important book!
This book speaks the truth and answers the question "Why do a lot of kids get turned off to reading in middle school? Read more
Published 6 months ago by Anna Maria Gaylord
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