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Reading Don't Fix No Chevys: Literacy in the Lives of Young Men Paperback – March 12, 2002

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0867095098 ISBN-10: 0867095091 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Prompted by research showing that girls as a group consistently outperform boys in tasks related to literacy, the authors attempted to determine the possible reasons behind this disparity, using a variety of techniques with a group of 49 boys of various socioeconomic levels, races, ages, educational histories, etc. The result is an evenhanded examination of boys' opinions about and approaches to literacy. The authors acknowledge the limitations of their research and discuss how their data may reflect these shortcomings but still reveal interesting tendencies within their group. The findings are related closely to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's work on "flow experiences." The authors concede that their conclusions could conceivably apply to girls as well as boys, suggesting that addressing student needs by gender may not be the most productive tactic in establishing and promoting literacy. Still, this clear, easy-to-follow text is worth a look, in large part due to its exploration of student approaches to literacy in school and out and how those attitudes can be applied to develop more effective methods of teaching.
Alison Ching, North Garland High School, Garland, TX
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Michael Smith is coauthor with Jeffrey Wilhelm and Michael Smith of Get It Done!; Oh, Yeah?!; and So, What's the Story?. Michael, a professor in Temple University's College of Education, joined the ranks of college teachers after 11 years of teaching high school English. He has won awards for his teaching at both the high school and college levels. His research focuses on understanding how experienced readers read and talk about texts as well as what motivates adolescents' reading and writing out of school. He uses that understanding to think about how to devise more effective and engaging reading and writing instruction for adolescents in school. Michael has cowritten or coedited three other Heinemann books, Going with the Flow; Reflective Teaching, Reflective Learning; and "Reading Don't Fix No Chevys". For Chevys he and coauthor Jeff Wilhelm received the NCTE David H. Russell Award for Distinguished Research in the Teaching of English. When he's not working, Michael's likely to be watching or talking about sports, reading, or playing with his granddaughter.

Jeffrey Wilhelm is coauthor with Michael Smith and James Fredricksen of Get It Done!; Oh, Yeah?!; and So, What's the Story?. Jeff has cowritten or coedited four other Heinemann books, Going with the Flow, "Reading Don't Fix No Chevys", Strategic Reading, and Imagining to Learn. For Chevys he and coauthor Jeff Wilhelm received the NCTE David H. Russell Award for Distinguished Research in the Teaching of English. Jeff is an internationally-known teacher, author, and presenter. He is driven by a desire to help teachers to help their students to more powerful literacy and compassionate, democratic living. What he most wants for teachers to get out of his work is motivation, a vital passion and impulse to continue experimenting and learning about teaching, as well as ways to frame instruction so it is meaningful and compelling to students. A classroom teacher for fifteen years, Jeff is currently Professor of English Education at Boise State University. He works in local schools as part of a Virtual Professional Development Site Network sponsored by the Boise State Writing Project, and regularly teaches middle and high school students. He is the founding director of the Maine Writing Project and the Boise State Writing Project. He has authored or coauthored numerous books and articles about literacy teaching and learning. In addition to the Russell award, his "You Gotta BE the Book" won the NCTE Promising Research Award. Jeff has worked on numerous materials and software programs for students including Scholastic's e21 and ReadAbout, and has edited a series of 100 books for reluctant readers entitled The Ten. Jeff enjoys speaking, presenting, working with students and schools. He is currently researching how students read and engage with non-traditional texts like video game narratives, manga, horror, fantasy, etc. as well as the effects of inquiry teaching on teachers, students, and learning. Jeff grew up on a small strawberry farm in Northeastern Ohio. He loved the Hardy Boys as a boy, and has continued to love reading ever since, progressing through Hermann Hesse, John Steinbeck, and James Baldwin as literary mentors. In high school he was named a Harrier All-American for cross-country and track. He was then a two-time Small College All-American in Cross-country. He has competed Internationally in cross country, track, and nordic skiing. He now enjoys marathon nordic skiing and whitewater kayaking.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Heinemann; 1 edition (March 12, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0867095091
  • ISBN-13: 978-0867095098
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #190,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 62 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book significantly changed the way I, as a teacher of Language Arts, think about what we do in secondary classrooms every day. Without ever being strident or laying blame, the authors methodically, movingly demonstrate that in so many ways, most middle schools and high schools are still far off the mark in how they teach English. And yet, the answer is right there--all we have to do is listen to the kids.
Sure, it's easy for us to listen to the good readers, the ones who zipped through "Lord of the Rings" in 5th grade, who devour books. But when do we really listen and respond to the needs of those kids--particularly, as the authors point out, boys--who never read, who say they hate to read?
The authors studied, and carried on extensive dialogues, with 49 boys in grades 7-12. What they found will shock and dismay some readers. To others, it will come as no surprise. Still others may see it as a call to action: Increasingly, many children--and boys in particular--fail to make any significant connection with what goes on in the language arts classroom. Even passionate teachers may be of little help, so long as they insist on imposing the conventional canon of "great literature" on all students. What's more, students who resist traditional reading are by no means necessarily illiterate. Many are highly competent readers of computer manuals, sports magazines, graphic novels and internet communications--to name just a few. Many are passionate about these alternative literary activities. But they find no reinforcement for them in school; often, it is quite the opposite.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Ron S. Potts on September 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
I heard about this book on Amazon, and quickly picked it up. As a teacher of middle school English learners who will soon be transitioning to mainstream classes, I have had many battles with students, especially boys, who hate to read. At the beginning of the year, I have my students complete this statement on a piece of paper: "When I read, I feel....". From the boys, I've gotten such responses as "bored", "tired", "sleepy", and, strangely enough, "hungry". The reality is, our male students are falling through the cracks because they are not engaged with the texts. If students aren't engaged by "Death of a Salesman" or "The Scarlet Letter", then why do we still force them to read these books? One solution to solving the problem of low literacy skills among boys would be to allow more book choices. Literature circles are great, because they give students a choice. If one circle is reading "Lord of the Flies" and doesn't want to read it, then he could get in the group that's reading the book he wants to read. "Reading Don't Fix No Chevys" is an insightful, well-researched book that I have been recommending to all my fellow Language Arts and ESL/ELD teachers. Bravo!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By John DeLaurentis on November 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
I read this book as a part of a Graduate level course in education I am taking at Rutgers University; the very University its author Michael Smith (who co-wrote with Jeffrey Wilhelm) once taught at. I found this book indispensible in its informative snapshots of high school boys from different backgrounds. It is clear that the language arts do not suffer from irrelevance for boys but perhaps from being taught in such a way that does not connect the texts with the boys' existing literary knowledge. After reading this book, you will learn that there are many ways to engage boys in the teaching of the language arts. I highly recommend this book. It is one of the top five best educational books I have read so far. Exceptional!
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For me, this book was incredibly eye-opening and yet nothing new all at the same time. I'm afraid my insights are not terribly scholarly and echo my own thoughts that have been growing since I left my teaching job in D.C. Students are individuals. This is a quote from one of my favorite authors: "You learn to read so you can identify the reality in which you live, so that you can become a protagonist of history rather than a spectator". I believe this is true regardless of your favorite genre. I think reading done right is a terribly personal process. There are no magical answers and insights. The wonderful thing about this book is that it confirms the intuitions of great teachers everywhere and provides tangible evidence of what many of us already knew: that boys can learn to love and appreciate literacy but that we need to know and appreciate our students before they can appreciate what we have to offer.
The process of teaching is so much more than just scaffolding and breaking things down into steps. It is looking at each individual student and facilitating their self discovery. I suppose I am very constructivist in this way. Every student learns differently, likes something different. All boys don't like the same thing, they are individuals and we need to learn who they are and what they like as individuals. Another quote from my favorite author: "The very least you can do in life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope". We need to find out what the hopes of our boys are. The writers offhandedly suggest encouraging boys to give you a song a week that they love, and using this to dialogue with them and learn who they are.
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