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The Art of Teaching Reading
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Reading the Art of Teaching, it becomes clear that Calkins is not only a wonderful reading teacher but a thoughtful and skilled writer about reading. However, looking over the reviews here a reader will notice a divergence of opinion with many lavishly praising this book while others express extreme disappointment. In the end neither of them are really wrong.

Calkin's goal of the is simple to get students to "compose lives in which reading and writing matter", but obviously difficult to achieve. She is of the opinion, and offers research to support this opinion, that a Reading Workshop is the best way of achieving this goal. She explains the ingredients for success in virtually all aspects of a Reading Workshop through her 500 plus pages. Her emphasis is on what to do rather than what not to do and she offers examples, normally quite entertaining, to demonstrate the theory she is talking about.

So in this sense the book is a large success. Calkin clearly understands the Reader's Workshop and is going to be able to help any teacher craft a framework for such a workshop.

However, this speaks to the great short coming of the book. While Calkin presents the philosophy the hard work of implementing it falls largely on the shoulder of the reader. When she works with teachers in person this is no doubt for the best, as she is able to give feedback on how various teachers implement the program. However, no such dialogue can be had with a book and so the reader can easily finish the book understanding just how important the Reader's Workshop is, without the skills needed to actually implement one.

This book is an important piece of writing for the Reading Workshop teacher, however it serves as a poor introduction to the method. Upper elementary and middle school teachers would be better advised to start with Nancy Atwell's In the Middle: New Understanding About Writing, Reading, and Learning (Workshop Series), and her recent addendum to that work The Reading Zone: HOW TO HELP KIDS BECOME SKILLED, PASSIONATE, HABITUAL, CRITICAL READERS which while suffering from some of the same problems as Calkin has far more specific methods to use.
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114 of 126 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2000
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Calkins says, "The problem is that if our teaching is to be an art, we need an organizing vision that brings together all of these separate components into something graceful and vital and significant. It is not the number of good ideas that turns our work into art, but the selection, balance, coherence and design of those ideas (p. 4)." This articulates what I've sensed for some time and am finally beginning to understand after eight years of striving to help first graders become readers for life. Lucy Calkins built the foundation for elementary wiritng workshop and now has formed a vision for a reading workshop structure that, I believe, will endure. This book is for all elementary teachers who are about helping children create literatie lives. It is both inspiring and practical, heady and humble.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
I read the first page of this book sitting on the floor of a book store. The next thing I knew it was 30 minutes later, and I didn't want to put the book down. I knew it needed to go home with me.
Calkins takes Reading instruction, breaks it down into manageable parts that she used in her own classroom and shares with you realistic, artful and purposeful ideas for teaching reading. She speaks very openly and honestly with you as a teacher who believes in teaching reading not as a science, but rather as an art. It is an amazing book that will transform the way you think about reading instruction even in simple ways. You will love reading it and want to apply her teaching strategies immediately.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2003
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I cannot say enough about this book. Teaching reading IS an art, a rocket science, and this thorough, all-encompassing professional resource elevated my teaching of reading to an art level. I constantly refer back to it. I frequently mentor student teachers, and tell them that if they can only afford to purchase one professional book, this should be the one. Lucy Calkins' work will stand the test of time. She should be a household name, and it is baffling to me that she isn't.
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43 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
I have been a teacher for just a few years and I am currently working on my master's degree. I wanted to know more about the process approach to reading and writing so I approached my professor. She loaned me a brand new copy of this book. I found Calkins the most useful information in forming an understanding of Reading Workshop. Calkins even has a section that gives tips on how to acquire more books for your school. This book is invaluable!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
The Art of Teaching Reading by Lucy Calkins is the most thorough and complete book on the reading workshop that I have found. It's written by someone who is passionate about teaching and reading. It's also packed with ideas that real teachers actually use in their classes, conversations they have with their students, and complex thinking on what real readers do. One of the things I appreciate about Calkins is that she does not come across as someone who think she knows all there is about teaching reading. She doesn't insist you do it her way or else. She demonstrates, explains, and lets you in on her thinking. In this way I felt she helped me to become a more reflective teacher myself.

This book is useful for anyone teaching children from their first introduction to reading to at least grade 6. She breaks the reading workshop into primary and intermediate grades, and there are many chapters on each level. The Art of Teaching Reading contains one of the best explanations of the difference between strategy lessons and guided reading groups that I have read. It also gives an in depth look into reading clubs, teaching kids to discuss books, and non-fiction reading, among many other things. It also spends time laying out the reasons for teaching this way.

This is a book to return to several times, the kind you mark up and jot notes on. If you're looking for specifics of what to teach in your small groups, or exactly how to structure your time, this book will disappoint you. (Check my other reviews for books I recommend for that.) If you like to understand theory, want an in depth overview of reading workshop, and are willing to devote some time and energy to reading, this book will leave you satisfied.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2007
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book is very helpful to any elementary teacher that is looking for ways to improve your reading curriculum. Lucy Calkins gives plenty of ideas and new approaches to try in your classroom. I also appreciate how she writes the actual scenario she used in the classroom with real kids. It is so much easier to comprehend through real life experiences. Another book that is similar, very informative and full of GREAT ideas is Reading Essentials by Regie Routman. This is a must read as an educator.
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on July 22, 2013
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I am a new first grade teacher and just finished reading [most of] this book during my summer break. It has given me so many new ideas and perspectives, fueled my imagination for how this year's reading curriculum will flow, and ignited my excitement for the coming school year!
This book provides details on a student-directed, individualized outline for teaching reading that builds off of students' personal interests and desires. The main goal is for students to acquire a love for reading and become lifelong readers.
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on October 19, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Although this is an excellent resource book to use in the classroom I would advise paying the extra to get a new book from Amazon. I thought buying a used book from a vender through Amazon would be ok and have done it before to save a little money on school books. This vender said it was like new but when it came it had been wet and had mold all through it and it took a month to get it. So just check out the other venders very carefully. But the book itself was very helpful.
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on August 6, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I am impressed with this book. It is full of invaluable information for pre-service and in-service teachers. It is a good go to book for anything you ever wanted to know about reading instruction.
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