Adolescent Literacy and the Teaching of Reading: Lessons for Teachers of Literature

The latest book by Deborah Appleman will help teachers like me who love teaching literature but never really saw themselves as reading teachers. It’s a thin volume in which Appleman asserts, “the connection between being a literature teacher and being a teacher of reading is closer than you think.” Of course she’s right. Literature teachers help students do what good readers do (e.g., make connections, visualize, predict, empathize, and so on) and more. First, the book shares current reading research and looks at how the definition of texts is always changing before focusing on specific types of readers (e.g., dormant readers, boys, adults). My favorite chapter is the one on assessment where she discusses the problems with standardized testing and offers concrete tools for making decisions about assessment within a reading program such as reader’s self-efficacy and meaning negotiation. The teacher vignettes are also informative. Here are a couple of neat teacher ideas that I highlighted:

• Create a Facebook page for Esperanza from Sandra Cisneros’ “Eleven” and have characters tweet each other

• Use Google Maps to explore Esperanza’s street

• Do the Human barometer exercise so students can indicate how strongly they feel about something