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No More Fake Reading: Merging the Classics with Independent Reading to Create Joyful, Lifelong Readers

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For middle- and high-school teachers, it's one of today's most vexing problems: How do you motivate students with varied interests and little appetite for classic literature to stop faking their way through texts and start advancing as skilled, engaged readers? Independent reading is an important part of the answer, but it's just that -- a part of the whole. In this grou For middle- and high-school teachers, it's one of today's most vexing problems: How do you motivate students with varied interests and little appetite for classic literature to stop faking their way through texts and start advancing as skilled, engaged readers? Independent reading is an important part of the answer, but it's just that -- a part of the whole. In this groundbreaking book, Berit Gordon offers the complete solution, a blended model that combines the benefits of classic literature with the motivational power of choice reading. With the blended model, teachers lead close examinations of key passages from classic texts, guiding students to an understanding of important reading strategies they can transfer to their choice books. Teachers gain a platform for demonstrating the critical reading skills students so urgently require, and students thrive on reading what they want to read. In this research-backed book, Gordon leads you step by step to classroom success with the blended model, showing: The basics of getting your classroom library up and running How to build a blended curriculum for both fiction and non-fiction units, keeping relevant standards in mind Tips and resources to help with day-to-day planning Ideas for selecting class novel passages that provide essential cultural capital and bolster students' reading skills Strategies for bringing talk into your blended reading classroom How to reach the crucial learning goal of transfer A practical, user-friendly approach for assessing each student's progress No More Fake Reading gives you all the tools you need to put the blended model to work for your students and transform your classroom into a vibrant reading environment. Berit Gordon coaches teachers as they nurture lifelong readers and writers. Her path as an educator began in the classroom in the Dominican Republic before teaching in New York City public schools. She also taught at the Teachers College of Columbia University in English Education. She currently works as a literacy consultant in grades 3-12 and lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and three children.


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For middle- and high-school teachers, it's one of today's most vexing problems: How do you motivate students with varied interests and little appetite for classic literature to stop faking their way through texts and start advancing as skilled, engaged readers? Independent reading is an important part of the answer, but it's just that -- a part of the whole. In this grou For middle- and high-school teachers, it's one of today's most vexing problems: How do you motivate students with varied interests and little appetite for classic literature to stop faking their way through texts and start advancing as skilled, engaged readers? Independent reading is an important part of the answer, but it's just that -- a part of the whole. In this groundbreaking book, Berit Gordon offers the complete solution, a blended model that combines the benefits of classic literature with the motivational power of choice reading. With the blended model, teachers lead close examinations of key passages from classic texts, guiding students to an understanding of important reading strategies they can transfer to their choice books. Teachers gain a platform for demonstrating the critical reading skills students so urgently require, and students thrive on reading what they want to read. In this research-backed book, Gordon leads you step by step to classroom success with the blended model, showing: The basics of getting your classroom library up and running How to build a blended curriculum for both fiction and non-fiction units, keeping relevant standards in mind Tips and resources to help with day-to-day planning Ideas for selecting class novel passages that provide essential cultural capital and bolster students' reading skills Strategies for bringing talk into your blended reading classroom How to reach the crucial learning goal of transfer A practical, user-friendly approach for assessing each student's progress No More Fake Reading gives you all the tools you need to put the blended model to work for your students and transform your classroom into a vibrant reading environment. Berit Gordon coaches teachers as they nurture lifelong readers and writers. Her path as an educator began in the classroom in the Dominican Republic before teaching in New York City public schools. She also taught at the Teachers College of Columbia University in English Education. She currently works as a literacy consultant in grades 3-12 and lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and three children.

30 review for No More Fake Reading: Merging the Classics with Independent Reading to Create Joyful, Lifelong Readers

  1. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    I struggled with this book. So much. Part of the reason is, because of the courses I teach (like AP Lit) I can’t just let my students read whatever they’d like. They need to be prepared for end of the year tests that require deep knowledge of “the classics” and those books are complex enough that I can’t just hang them out to dry. We need to read together. Despite that, I saw ways to incorporate Gordon’s ideas in ways. But there was one thing I just couldn’t get past... Gordon suggests that ever I struggled with this book. So much. Part of the reason is, because of the courses I teach (like AP Lit) I can’t just let my students read whatever they’d like. They need to be prepared for end of the year tests that require deep knowledge of “the classics” and those books are complex enough that I can’t just hang them out to dry. We need to read together. Despite that, I saw ways to incorporate Gordon’s ideas in ways. But there was one thing I just couldn’t get past... Gordon suggests that everyday my students have 30-40 minutes of silent reading time in a 50 minute block. *Everyday.* Every. Single. Day. With very little variation. She suggests letting them talk about their reading “once or twice a week for 15 minutes.” I can’t do it. I don’t want a silent classroom. Yes, I want my students to be readers, but that’s not all. I want them to explore ideas and try new things. I want them to move and talk and share. I am not a teacher who loves silence. I just need more interaction than this. Also, I found her constant use of the term “grade-grubbers” to refer to engaged or proficient students condescending and obnoxious.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Robert Greenberger

    This was recommended in a teaching journal or website and the tile seemed intriguing. Berit Gordon's argument is that we should alter the curriculum, letting students select works on their own and then make that their focus while the more traditional works are excerpted and taught in parallel so we use the excerpts as models. We can, for example, explore the use of minor characters in Frankenstein and have them connect to their own works. I'm all in favor of getting them to read and I do feel tha This was recommended in a teaching journal or website and the tile seemed intriguing. Berit Gordon's argument is that we should alter the curriculum, letting students select works on their own and then make that their focus while the more traditional works are excerpted and taught in parallel so we use the excerpts as models. We can, for example, explore the use of minor characters in Frankenstein and have them connect to their own works. I'm all in favor of getting them to read and I do feel that much of what we require them to read is better left for when they're adults and can really get it. However, I also suspect we may be short-changing them with this approach. Gordon makes a lot of good arguments with plenty of examples. Corwin Literacy has supplemental, downloadable materials on their website which is terrific. That said, I am going to try it in at least one class for a quarter and see if it makes a difference. My department chair has already approved the idea. In the meantime, I will be asking my standard classes to read one independent book a quarter and slowly integrate those into what we're discussing in class. Should be interesting.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    I am altering the format of my freshman lit class this year to incorporate much more independent reading, including a lot of class time devoted to choice reads. With this in mind, I looked to this book for assistance, but was ultimately disappointed. This book is useful if you want a very specific plan on how to integrate more choice, but I was looking for more aids than a step by step guide. The resources are good, and I will certainly be able to use them, but I was able to skim large portions I am altering the format of my freshman lit class this year to incorporate much more independent reading, including a lot of class time devoted to choice reads. With this in mind, I looked to this book for assistance, but was ultimately disappointed. This book is useful if you want a very specific plan on how to integrate more choice, but I was looking for more aids than a step by step guide. The resources are good, and I will certainly be able to use them, but I was able to skim large portions of the book that outlined step-by-step approaches.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Miriam

    I hope more English teachers will read this. I have often had the feeling that I am absolutely slaughtering any potential love of reading for my students when I teach a class novel, and this book outlines how to do the opposite. It covers using classic texts that English teachers always teach to model the habits and skills of good readers, but then ask the students to use those skills within books that they have chosen to read out of their own interests. Abandoning teaching the whole class novel I hope more English teachers will read this. I have often had the feeling that I am absolutely slaughtering any potential love of reading for my students when I teach a class novel, and this book outlines how to do the opposite. It covers using classic texts that English teachers always teach to model the habits and skills of good readers, but then ask the students to use those skills within books that they have chosen to read out of their own interests. Abandoning teaching the whole class novel word for word and instead using excerpts (summarizing and contextualizing as necessary) to teach the skills required of good readers will help students to gain those skills and also help them form an interest in reading. It will feel uncomfortable to do it this way and to provide independent reading time in class, but the book also covers what that reading time should be used for: basically, bonding with your students over their books! There are also assignments and grading guidelines in this book, and I will definitely be forming unit plans based on it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Molly Dettmann

    I can appreciate any PD text that encourages educators to incorporate choice reading into the curriculum to get students to want to read again. I liked some of the tips and methods of organizing blending whole class reads of classics into independent choice reading, especially Gordon’s suggestion to expand the definition of the classic cannon to include diverse texts that aren’t just dead white guys (my interpretation, not her exact words). However, as much as I appreciated the majority of what t I can appreciate any PD text that encourages educators to incorporate choice reading into the curriculum to get students to want to read again. I liked some of the tips and methods of organizing blending whole class reads of classics into independent choice reading, especially Gordon’s suggestion to expand the definition of the classic cannon to include diverse texts that aren’t just dead white guys (my interpretation, not her exact words). However, as much as I appreciated the majority of what this book guides educators on, I just a little disappointed in how little librarians and collaboration are mentioned. The whole first chapter is about building your classroom library (which is great, more books for kids, yay!) but then the school library is listed as an afterthought to get kids access to more books. Why not start there since that’s a lot to ask classroom teachers to build an all encompassing choice reading library? Gordon does mention that your school librarian would be a good person to ask about what books to purchase for said library. There is also a laughable line about how if a school has a book budget, try to get some books with that. Lol, not how that works at all. There’s one other brief mention of media specialists being a great asset in the chapter about incorporating nonfiction and how they can help you sort through databases....Shake my head, we can do so much more! I’d say for teachers cracking this one open, don’t forget your librarians and fellow English teachers (both in your school and in your online PLN) when looking at how to incorporate these ideas! It takes a village to raise readers and while this book offers some great starts, it kind of missed that point.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    I heard about the reading workshop approach way back in college, 20 years ago. But when I thought about implementing it, all I could imagine was chaos. Gordon’s book explains how to teach class novels while still having students focus on choice reading. This is exactly the book I needed to give me the push to really try it. It’s still kind of scary to me to make such a shift, but this book is a fantastic reference that I’ll pick up again and again as I work toward the best classroom for my kids.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

    Gordon’s book is inspiring and challenging; I’m eager to take on many of her suggestions in my own classroom. I wish there was more in here about balancing the requirements of a set curriculum with this philosophy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Eric Harrington

    I loved this book. I thought that it was well written, with an approachable and at times comic tone. I highlighted a lot of great quotations and ideas in here!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brooke Nicole

    Implementing a new teaching framework can be daunting but this resource has it all when preparing to blend the classics with choice reads. The rationales, sample student work/unit plans, rubrics, prompts, etc. have emboldened me on this journey to create lifelong readers in my classroom.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    Gordon incorporates enough shout outs to the game-changers and their books that have (and continue to) advocate for free choice in reading to engage older readers and keep them reading long into their lives because we are in fact, killing reading for our kids. The premise, that we can instruct using the classics or anything other kind of book, but ultimately the application lies in the students' own book choices. Plenty of examples exist on how to do this from the rubrics and check-ins to templa Gordon incorporates enough shout outs to the game-changers and their books that have (and continue to) advocate for free choice in reading to engage older readers and keep them reading long into their lives because we are in fact, killing reading for our kids. The premise, that we can instruct using the classics or anything other kind of book, but ultimately the application lies in the students' own book choices. Plenty of examples exist on how to do this from the rubrics and check-ins to templates for a period's worth of instruction would go and in-classroom quotes that line the book in sections about student responses to this "flipped" instruction. Yes, books should not take 12 weeks to read. Teachers can adapt and change while still accomplishing the tasks, building skills, and still (why they all because English teachers and why librarians are librarians, really) to instill a love of reading. Chapters, headings, paragraphs, and examples are all right there as you read making it a perfect PD text for sure. It asks educators to change how they teach. And I enjoyed this one in continuing to build ammunition alongside my English teacher colleagues for incorporating this because they fight so hard against the politics of doing other things (that are not accomplishing the goals). Useful, practical, readable, inspirational, actionable.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    I think most ELA teachers would agree that students need to read more and that students do not enjoy most of what they are assigned to read. This book may seem like common sense. To be honest, I found most of the first half addressed ideas that are not new to most teachers who have taught for a while. Nevertheless, I think it's always important to consider new ways to do the same old things. So, I read chunks of this book and found some valuable ways to approach reading and response with my stud I think most ELA teachers would agree that students need to read more and that students do not enjoy most of what they are assigned to read. This book may seem like common sense. To be honest, I found most of the first half addressed ideas that are not new to most teachers who have taught for a while. Nevertheless, I think it's always important to consider new ways to do the same old things. So, I read chunks of this book and found some valuable ways to approach reading and response with my students. I liked the guidelines on how to guide a reading discussion, the variety of ideas for student responses, and the non-traditional activities for assessment. Even if you feel you have heard it all before, you may find some interesting nuggets if you dig deep enough. Enjoy!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Excellent framework and concepts to build entire ELA class around independent reading and student choice. This would be an excellent guide to building a remedial or RTI reading program. How would those of us with mandated curriculum, mandated titles, and even mandated lessons make this work? With lots of creative planning!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Rare is the teacher PD book that really shifts your thinking and speaks to directly where you are in your journey as an educator. This one hit all the marks for me. Does it matter how rich and rigorous a text is if no one is actually reading it? And unlike other trendy literacy books right now, this one isn't calling for any absolutes. Instead, it advocates a blend of the classics along with choice reading. I wish all my English teacher friends and coworkers would read it, just to get them think Rare is the teacher PD book that really shifts your thinking and speaks to directly where you are in your journey as an educator. This one hit all the marks for me. Does it matter how rich and rigorous a text is if no one is actually reading it? And unlike other trendy literacy books right now, this one isn't calling for any absolutes. Instead, it advocates a blend of the classics along with choice reading. I wish all my English teacher friends and coworkers would read it, just to get them thinking about how to best serve students.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cait

    Not only is this one of the most valuable and informative books I have read as an educator, but it was also a breeze to read. I could not put this book down. Gordon’s writing style was easy to digest without losing its depth and importance. I learned so much from this book and I cannot wait to implement it in the next school year (bye class novels!). The ideas in No More Fake Reading are supported by research, teacher feedback, and tons of tips- which makes the idea of changing your entire way o Not only is this one of the most valuable and informative books I have read as an educator, but it was also a breeze to read. I could not put this book down. Gordon’s writing style was easy to digest without losing its depth and importance. I learned so much from this book and I cannot wait to implement it in the next school year (bye class novels!). The ideas in No More Fake Reading are supported by research, teacher feedback, and tons of tips- which makes the idea of changing your entire way of teaching feel a little less scary. On a similar note, one thing I really appreciated is the way Gordon thought of everything. I would be reading a strategy and thinking to myself, “Ok, that’s great but what if.....” and in the next few pages my question would be miraculously answered! I’m so happy I ordered this and I will absolutely be recommending it to fellow teachers!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Anne Malmquist

    This book has changed my approach to teaching literature. I am working out how to implement the strategies in my classroom. My first tests have been very successful, both from my perspective and my students' perspectives.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Shipe

    I heard Berit Gordon speak at NCTE in St. Louis (whatever year that was--2017?), and have been meaning to get her book since them. Her main point is that students need to read a large and wide volume of books in order to be college- and career-ready. Thanks to an inter-department debate about summer reading in The Time of Coronavirus, I finally moved this book from an Amazon list to my Amazon cart and bought it. I read it in a weekend. Teaching AP Lit, I don't know if I will incorporate Gordon's I heard Berit Gordon speak at NCTE in St. Louis (whatever year that was--2017?), and have been meaning to get her book since them. Her main point is that students need to read a large and wide volume of books in order to be college- and career-ready. Thanks to an inter-department debate about summer reading in The Time of Coronavirus, I finally moved this book from an Amazon list to my Amazon cart and bought it. I read it in a weekend. Teaching AP Lit, I don't know if I will incorporate Gordon's plans for units and lessons wholeheartedly. But I'm willing to make a leap toward what she's doing. I already ask students to read four books independently during the year. I used to require that they be "works of comparable literary merit" to the lists provided on Question 3 of the exam, but now that the wording has changed, I decided to give my students total freedom on this. (Mind you, my summer assignment still gives them a list of about 100-150 books, some of which have never appeared on the list. And we won't know how this strategy worked because the revised AP exam will not have an open question.) I would give about 15 minutes a week (we're on the A/B block schedule) for silent reading, but I would read my book of choice silently (and up my Goodreads count). Now I'm thinking of using Gordon's methods, extending the reading time, walking around and checking on them as they read, giving them specific prompts for their reading logs.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Martha

    An interesting approach to encouraging reading. However, while Gordon stresses the importance of building the reading skills that students will need in college and the workplace, she gives short shrift to building the companion library skills and information literacy with which strong readers should be equipped. Instead, she encourages teachers to cobble together individual classroom libraries, based primarily on found books or donations. Such accidental collections are hardly a replacement for An interesting approach to encouraging reading. However, while Gordon stresses the importance of building the reading skills that students will need in college and the workplace, she gives short shrift to building the companion library skills and information literacy with which strong readers should be equipped. Instead, she encourages teachers to cobble together individual classroom libraries, based primarily on found books or donations. Such accidental collections are hardly a replacement for an organized, curated collection of high-interest materials, which can be found in any professionally managed school library. And such small classrooms shelves give students no experience in navigating a library, using a catalog, or experiencing the thrill of accidental discovery when browsing a library. In addition to neglecting the library itself, Gordon also makes little mention of the resources available through a librarian or professional organizations such as the American Library Association. Although I'm eager to partner with the handful of teachers trying this approach in my school, I couldn't help feeling insulted by Gordon's failure to support school libraries and school librarians, which are under siege in the very state where Gordon herself teaches.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    Professional development books are always tricky to rate. This one is designed specifically for English teachers who want to incorporate more independent reading in their curriculum, but teaches it in a way that will have instruction supplementing with books that students have chosen on their own. There's power to going this route, but also some challenges that may have some issues with buy in. If you implement some of the strategies (particularly how to have conversations about what you have be Professional development books are always tricky to rate. This one is designed specifically for English teachers who want to incorporate more independent reading in their curriculum, but teaches it in a way that will have instruction supplementing with books that students have chosen on their own. There's power to going this route, but also some challenges that may have some issues with buy in. If you implement some of the strategies (particularly how to have conversations about what you have been. reading--regardless if you require it or not), then you'll be able to assess it more accurately.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Penninga

    A piggy back to Penny Kittle & Kelly Gallagher’s books, this book reminds me of the importance of choice reading, conferring, and offers some good tips/resources to help the process of goal-making and reading tracking. I loved the tips on modeling reading and have seminar circles with choice reads, too. I hate the fake reading that goes on in classrooms, so anything I can do to inspire passionate reading in my classroom is a win. Gordon has some great tips to help motivate readers, but also asse A piggy back to Penny Kittle & Kelly Gallagher’s books, this book reminds me of the importance of choice reading, conferring, and offers some good tips/resources to help the process of goal-making and reading tracking. I loved the tips on modeling reading and have seminar circles with choice reads, too. I hate the fake reading that goes on in classrooms, so anything I can do to inspire passionate reading in my classroom is a win. Gordon has some great tips to help motivate readers, but also assess them as well to ensure reading is taking place.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Paige Castellon

    It took me months to finish this book, but I’m glad I did. The book obviously focuses on a more “modern” look at novel studies, which include students using individual choice novels to propel their learning. I have definitely started to try and integrate this into my classroom, and I love all of the resources that Gordon incorporates into the appendix, but even more so - the student work examples. I would definitely recommend this book if you are looking for accessible ways to create authentic r It took me months to finish this book, but I’m glad I did. The book obviously focuses on a more “modern” look at novel studies, which include students using individual choice novels to propel their learning. I have definitely started to try and integrate this into my classroom, and I love all of the resources that Gordon incorporates into the appendix, but even more so - the student work examples. I would definitely recommend this book if you are looking for accessible ways to create authentic readers in your classroom.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tina M

    This is the definitive road map for a blended literacy approach in the middle and high school classroom! Here’s why I’m obsessed with No More Fake Reading compared to other books on instilling a love of reading in students: it showed me how this can look in my classroom. It’s full of sample lesson plans, reading notebook prompts, teacher conferencing scripts, and student examples. Merging excerpts of classics with independent reading choice using explicit instruction on focused reading skills se This is the definitive road map for a blended literacy approach in the middle and high school classroom! Here’s why I’m obsessed with No More Fake Reading compared to other books on instilling a love of reading in students: it showed me how this can look in my classroom. It’s full of sample lesson plans, reading notebook prompts, teacher conferencing scripts, and student examples. Merging excerpts of classics with independent reading choice using explicit instruction on focused reading skills seems the answer to how to teach reading and get kids to love it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ellen Deckinga

    Well organized introductory text on building toward a workshop model. Frequently we read the big name books because everyone is reading them and suggesting them, but as individual educators we aren't there yet. It's overwhelming. This book is a great intro to the ideas expanded on in some of the "gurus" books. I've read a significant number of the big name books and this book gave me time to go back and think about key elements a bit more. I am able to go deeper in my learning. What a great gift Well organized introductory text on building toward a workshop model. Frequently we read the big name books because everyone is reading them and suggesting them, but as individual educators we aren't there yet. It's overwhelming. This book is a great intro to the ideas expanded on in some of the "gurus" books. I've read a significant number of the big name books and this book gave me time to go back and think about key elements a bit more. I am able to go deeper in my learning. What a great gift learning is.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Penny

    An extremely valuable book with lots of practical suggestions for how language arts instruction can change. And more importantly, very open-minded and strong arguments about WHY it must change. Reading it with the lens of an instructional coach, I wished for more on how to apply this thinking in other disciplines. But realistically, I think that's on me and/or those who work with other disciplines to figure out how to get kids DOING rather than mimicking.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brandi

    Honestly, I’m not the target audience for this book as a school librarian not an English teacher. However, I simply don’t see this approach working for the ELA teachers at my school. Abandoning the whole class novel is simply not going to happen with most (if not all) of the teachers I work with. Additionally, all of the “work” required around the choice novels presented here seems counterproductive to the goal of leading students to enjoy reading for the sake of reading.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lara

    Honestly, this book pretty much outlines what I already strive to do, but it gave me some great, concrete, practical ideas on how to take it to the next level. I've been wanting to integrate our independent reading with our whole class texts in a more meaningful way. I even have ideas on how to make this happen with distance learning if I have to. This is the inspiration I've been needing after my struggle to punch up the new curriculum our district adopted last year.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This book gives great ideas for how teachers can allow choice reading while still using classics. There are lesson plans, rubrics, and more to help get started. Yes, it probably won't work for an AP Lit class, but the ideas here could help inspire and prepare more students to take that level of class.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Heather Lindenmeyer

    As a high school English teacher myself, I found her strategies to be practical and useful. I have started to incorporate more independent reading into my classroom over the past two years, and now I am even more excited to do so, based on ideas expressed in the book. I checked this book out at a library, but I am going to order it for myself so I can have access to it whenever I want!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Kay

    As educators, we know the importance of our students reading and reading tons. Well, NO MORE FAKE READING is full of actionable, easy-to-apply tips for teachers to facilitate a love of reading in our students. A must-read for any teacher that craves to forge a deeper connection with his or her students through a love of reading.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Heather Stringham

    Focus on Skills It is important to realize that one cannot teach the same way she was taught. Gordon gives ideas and allows a person to realize the way to make sure the students are reading. The number of resources she gives are fantastic.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Carina

    Lots of good ideas and resources for implementing reading in the classroom. I plan on trying some of these in my classroom in September. Highly recommend for all middle and high school English teachers, especially if you have not read Kelly Gallagher or Penny Kittle.

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