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

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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 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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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 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.

30 review for Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It

  1. 4 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    The subtitle pretty much sums the book up. Some interesting remedies are suggested but nothing radical. The premise of the book is WYTIWYG - What You Test is What You Get - If you implement shallow tests and metrics to measure the young generation, they will evolve into that and beat you at the same game, in the worst ways imaginable. Introduce deep reading and a love for learning instead of artificial measures; test for understanding, not for mere retention of facts - facts change and when they The subtitle pretty much sums the book up. Some interesting remedies are suggested but nothing radical. The premise of the book is WYTIWYG - What You Test is What You Get - If you implement shallow tests and metrics to measure the young generation, they will evolve into that and beat you at the same game, in the worst ways imaginable. Introduce deep reading and a love for learning instead of artificial measures; test for understanding, not for mere retention of facts - facts change and when they do, it is the ability to understand and process them that will count above mere retention. We need to teach the right things in schools but more important we should test for the right things. To repeat again, WYTIWYG.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Donalyn

    The latest book from consultant and high school teacher, Kelly Gallagher, explores how standardized-testing mania, whole class novel units, and other types of reading instruction destroy all love or interest in reading for kids. For those of you who know me (or have talked to me for three minutes!), you can tell that Kelly was preaching to the choir here. The first part of the book was simply validation for what I already believe to be true with a heavy dose of research to back it up. The second The latest book from consultant and high school teacher, Kelly Gallagher, explores how standardized-testing mania, whole class novel units, and other types of reading instruction destroy all love or interest in reading for kids. For those of you who know me (or have talked to me for three minutes!), you can tell that Kelly was preaching to the choir here. The first part of the book was simply validation for what I already believe to be true with a heavy dose of research to back it up. The second half of the book explores how teachers overteach books (by beating them into the ground) and underteach books (by failing to prepare students to tackle difficult concepts). These two chapters made me think a lot about what I believe and how I approach books with my students. A definite must read for all reading teachers no matter what grade level! I will be posting a link on my blog where teachers can read the book online for free this week...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Eric Rasmussen

    I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it offered phenomenal ideas for teaching English, and a very persuasive reminder of the power of reading, which all English teachers occasionally need, especially as we get bogged down in the daily rigors of the classroom. My problem lies with some pretty huge assumptions Gallagher has made. Basically, his goal is thoughful, intelligent human beings who value reading. He is obviously one of these, as is everyone who reads this book. So, much of I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it offered phenomenal ideas for teaching English, and a very persuasive reminder of the power of reading, which all English teachers occasionally need, especially as we get bogged down in the daily rigors of the classroom. My problem lies with some pretty huge assumptions Gallagher has made. Basically, his goal is thoughful, intelligent human beings who value reading. He is obviously one of these, as is everyone who reads this book. So, much of his philosophy is essentially, "Do what good readers do, and you will become a good reader." I think that's flawed logic. It's easy for English teachers to forget that non-English teachers may not share our interest in or aptitude for reading. At one point, he uses a swimming metaphor to discuss access to books - we would never expect kids to learn to swim without giving them access to a pool, so how can we expect kids to learn to read without giving them access to books and time to read? I agree, but there are still plenty of people that, with unlimited pool access, will not find a value or enjoyment of swimming. The same is true with reading. I felt Readicide failed to address how to cultivate that value other than surrounding a kid with books (and appropriate teaching of books) and hoping it happens. For some it does. For many it does not. The other issue I had stems from the same English-centricity idea - I have a real problem when people argue for the necessity of the "classics." I completely and totally agree that students need practice with difficult reading, and for that reason I populate my classroom with plenty of canonical classics. However, his theory that every classic can be valuable to every student if only they are taught right is ridiculous. Again, that's easy for an English teacher say, as they have generally found that value. People have different tastes, values, and ideals, and defending books that kids can't connect with like Gallagher only widens the gap between English teachers and the creation of readers. Of the people on this website, who loves reading because of a book assigned in school? Don't readers need to find the value of reading on their own, to have any ownership of it? Again, there was a lot of great points in Readicide, but, obviously, a few things that really irked me as well. Definitely worth a read by any English teacher.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tamoghna Biswas

    “ The Overteaching of Books Prevents Our Students from Experiencing the Place Where All Serious Readers Want to Be—The Reading Flow ” Kelly Gallagher, under such a ‘staggering title’, has definitely fabricated a significant one-of-a-kind work; however, if I’m being entirely truthful I did find shades of M.J.Adler’s works quite a few times, whenever the book tried to focus on the core matter of the book, rather than the political issues which it addresses quite more than needed, perhaps. Neverth “ The Overteaching of Books Prevents Our Students from Experiencing the Place Where All Serious Readers Want to Be—The Reading Flow ” Kelly Gallagher, under such a ‘staggering title’, has definitely fabricated a significant one-of-a-kind work; however, if I’m being entirely truthful I did find shades of M.J.Adler’s works quite a few times, whenever the book tried to focus on the core matter of the book, rather than the political issues which it addresses quite more than needed, perhaps. Nevertheless, I guess most of the students who had been to even a single literature class can correlate himself, or herself to those ‘things’ which are deemed perfectly normal, and essential in the classroom. I do, personally; I have loved reading (and as a kid, probably listening to more often) stories since long before we were taught to read a book in school, I guess. But till now, I have never enjoyed a book taught in class, and had devised somewhat of a remedy by checking the syllabus before the classes even began for that term, so that I already knew the story by heart before they took it up in the classroom. It wasn’t possible to score good marks with what you think of a classic yourself (especially if you’re a kid), but seldom you may find a teacher who may agree with you on some of the notions, at least. It was interesting to read such a conspicuous issue in such a backdrop though, for many of the pages incorporate such tidings that are bit hard to come across unless one is an academic, specifically in that very domain. If you’re not from that nation, or are simply not interested, fortunately the propositions can be percolated quite easily. That’s what I did, quite some times on the first reading. The additional pros. is undoubtedly the Reading List in the end, I picked some up for my TBR list. Thanks Debbie, for the recommendation. It’s one of the books I wouldn’t probably have even heard of, unless you brought it up in a conversation. “If we are to find our way again—if students are to become avid readers again—we, as language arts teachers, must find our courage to recognize the difference between the political worlds and the authentic worlds in which we teach, to swim against those current educational practices that are killing young readers, and to step up and do what is right for our students.”

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    Kelly Gallagher's Readicide is a title that ensures we'll all duck and cover, which really made it difficult for me to accept the book at first. He explains how American education is failing to create lifelong readers. Put another way, America's public education is "killing" students' love of reading. Gallagher explains that the "elephant in the room" when it comes to this part of the sky falling is standardized tests. The era of the standardized test in American public education really got going Kelly Gallagher's Readicide is a title that ensures we'll all duck and cover, which really made it difficult for me to accept the book at first. He explains how American education is failing to create lifelong readers. Put another way, America's public education is "killing" students' love of reading. Gallagher explains that the "elephant in the room" when it comes to this part of the sky falling is standardized tests. The era of the standardized test in American public education really got going with the Bush administration's "No Child Left Behind," and it has been intensified under the Obama administration's "Race to the Top." The tests have been shown to narrow curriculum, to divert school funds in order to hire "how to pass the test consultants," and the tests divert significant time from instruction as well. Now, Americans seem to be getting ready to expand the tests so that every subject and every grade is given a high stakes test. What's the worst that can happen? (Update: it seems that New York is planning to have students write 35 tests per year now, and some worry that American education still hasn't "hit bottom.") Gallagher explains that English teachers are currently evaluated by tests, schools that fail to improve their test scores are shut down, so teachers, naturally and (officially, at least) correctly, teach to the test. Unfortunately, the tests do not seem to be accurately measuring reading ability, which is quite sad when you consider how many people are losing their jobs because of them -- not to mention the students whose love of reading has died as a result of these tests. Regardless of how effective the tests measure ability, it is uncommon for teach to the test instruction to inspire a love of reading. So what does Gallagher propose? Gallagher offers quite a few ideas, but here are some that might seem especially provocative. Gallagher takes a middle ground in the classics vs. high interest reading debate when he calls for a 50/50 approach. Basically, students are required to read "classics" as well as "high-interest" novels, putting him at odds with Harold Bloom and the "rigor" group, as well as Nancy Atwell and her followers. In terms of skill-based instruction, Gallagher likes to see students mark the text during a "second draft" reading, but he doesn't like to see annotation and other skills take priority over actually reading the book. Gallagher strongly cautions teachers against obsessively planning their instruction of novels as well, which will put him at odds with the principals and parents that like to see clear-cut, predictable, and very traditional chapter questions for their kids to answer. Gallagher calls on teachers to "frame" the subject and theme of the novel during the early stages of reading, but then advocates that teachers be mindful of allowing students to get to experience reading flow. He calls for students to be given access to high interest books and the time to read (free voluntary reading, or sustained silent reading). For people not in the industry, all of these ideas are somewhat controversial, and in a few cases quite a lot of money is riding on what policy makers decide to do. Readicide is clearly argued, though I was not always convinced. It's not at all uncommon to see people mix correlation and causation when discussing education, and Gallagher is no exception. When he does this, he is very likely to rely on anecdotal evidence and "good ole common sense" arguments to support his stands. His entire premise, that high school graduates read less than they used to -- primarily because of educational practices as opposed to technological change -- felt a little shaky to me. Also, I found some of his analogies especially folksy, particularly the "sweet spot" of reading instruction. On the other hand, many of his ideas are good. I particularly liked the "topic flood." I also sympathized with Gallagher's concerns. Like him, I am a fan of free voluntary reading, have seen it produce the "this is the first book I ever read. Can I have another?" statement, and was sad to read that it has been so hastily dismissed in order to spend more time preparing students for tests. I would recommend Readicide to educators, parents, and policy makers, though I do strongly dislike its title. Having said that, I'm quite happy to adopt many of Gallagher's suggestions.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    Readicide is a teacher's book. It's by teachers, and primarily for teachers. For the majority of the book, he's preaching to the choir. I knew I would like it when I read the dedication, "For those educators who resist the political in favor of the authentic." It's always nice when an author dedicates a book to you. Basically the premise of the book is, given the current political atmosphere schools are focusing on shallow, short-term, to-the-test teaching rather than focusing on developing life-l Readicide is a teacher's book. It's by teachers, and primarily for teachers. For the majority of the book, he's preaching to the choir. I knew I would like it when I read the dedication, "For those educators who resist the political in favor of the authentic." It's always nice when an author dedicates a book to you. Basically the premise of the book is, given the current political atmosphere schools are focusing on shallow, short-term, to-the-test teaching rather than focusing on developing life-long readers. Gallagher contends that this is losing us both a generation of readers, and America's creative edge. He cites ways the system (schools, teachers, politicians, administrators - you get the idea) are all unintentionally involved in turning kids away from reading. I agree with 95% of what he's saying. A lot of it is common sense, stuff I already do. A lot of it I'll steal from him and pawn off as my own ideas to my colleagues. The 5% that I disagreed with though, I REALLY disagreed with. I was so ticked it tainted the rest of the book - including his good ideas, which is kindof sad. I wrote notes in the margins though where he was either lying or ignorant. That way when the next library patron checks it out they'll be aware. Or else they'll show it to the librarian and I'll get my card revoked or something. The point I agree with most whole-heartedly? We can't focus on academic texts only. We have to focus on recreational reading as well. I think I do a pretty good job with this. I may have a slight advantage; I'm not officially a Language Arts teacher. (Don't kid yourself though, we're all Language Arts teachers.) That's the thing, I'm not assigning book reading for credit. I don't do it for extra credit. We'll discuss the books they're reading in LA, and I'll talk them up - but as a non-LA teacher I can focus on fun reading. Gallagher talks about over-teaching books and under-teaching books. He talks about chopping them apart so much that the students aren't even actually reading books any more at all. He talks about how to model and how to teach reading. All of this is advice worth listening to and worth asking your library to buy the book for you. But I want to vent, so let me offer a few of my own thoughts for when you read/reread it. I know there are a lot of AR haters out there. Gallagher is right there with you belittling the program and spouting off crappy lies about it. I think he should have focused on how the program is implemented, rather than the program itself. Some of the things from his list of problems with AR (pg. 74) "Students can only read books found on the AR list. If a good book is not on the list, students are not allowed to read it." ----BZZZZT Wrong----- Schools enrolled in the program can make a quiz for books not found in the AR data-base. ---------------------------------------------------------- "Students choose books for high point value, rather than for their level of interest." ----BZZZZT Wrong again---- I suppose if AR is implemented incorrectly then that would be the case, but if the teachers focus on using the quizzes as an accountability measure, encourage high-interest reading, and devalue the rewards this would not be so. --------------------------------------------------------- The reward system sends the message that the reason students should read is not to enjoy reading but to earn points. Students are taught to read for the wrong reasons. -----hmmmm------------ Well, honestly I've struggled with this one quite a bit. I don't want the external reward to be the only reason my kids are reading, so I've had to fight against that happening. I feel like I've overcome this obstacle by letting my students know that I really don't care about the points as much as I care about them reading. The points are good, and fun, and maybe we'll win the school-wide competition - but who cares? We'll do our own thing anyway. The most important thing is that they're reading, and that they're reading something they want to read. Blah blach blech blah blah. I'm sure his accountability measure (a "one-pager" with an "academic honesty" - seriously, I don't know if anyone has told him that sometimes junior highers and high schoolers aren't academically honest... ... ... - signature) is better than the AR quiz, but I highly doubt it. Besides, with AR my students can be accountable with a TON more books than his - unless he has limitless time to grade all those fantastic "one-pagers." It was a good book, but I could have done without, "What will be more important twenty years from now, that we have produced adults who remain avid readers? Or that we have produced adults who were once able to climb from level 3 to level 4 in a junior high school reading program?" Look douche, I could just as easily ask, "What will be more important... that we have produced adults who remain avid readers? Or that we have produced adults who learned how to sign a lie on their "academic honesty" line?" In this section he also contends that students don't fake read during SSR. Maybe he should pay closer attention to his students. And throwing around little platitudes like, "I'm a teacher, not an assigner" gets old really fast. Like I said before, you're probably both a teacher, an assigner, and when you throw out stuff like that a little bit of a douche. There's just too much to like and dislike. (Another like, "stop demonizing other media... he quotes from Strauss, "Don't make computers and TV and movies the bad guy. Those things aren't going to go away. I think we did ourselves a disservice in the past by saying TV is bad, reading is good. It's not that cut and dried.") If it hadn't been for the AR section I would have loved the whole thing.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Laura Leaney

    I did not enjoy this book, but it probably should be required reading for a target group of the nation's teachers who cannot figure out for themselves that the way certain books are "taught" (especially in the younger grades) can eliminate a child's love of reading. It's funny. I mostly agree with Kelly Gallagher's points but could barely get through the ridiculous metaphors for teaching (swimming, baseball, et cetera) the repetitive writing, and the contradictions. Yes, teaching to the test kil I did not enjoy this book, but it probably should be required reading for a target group of the nation's teachers who cannot figure out for themselves that the way certain books are "taught" (especially in the younger grades) can eliminate a child's love of reading. It's funny. I mostly agree with Kelly Gallagher's points but could barely get through the ridiculous metaphors for teaching (swimming, baseball, et cetera) the repetitive writing, and the contradictions. Yes, teaching to the test kills a love for reading. I doubt anyone would disagree - I mean have you seen the boring crap they make students read on those exams? Good God. How long could an ordinary sane person spend on multiple choice questions? And yes, the schools that have removed long works and novels from their curricula in the interest of state test preparedness are damaging their children. These kids will never be "life long readers." And yes, teachers are also to blame. We under teach a book, we over teach a book, we sometimes do it all wrong so that students either have no idea what's going on (and mentally decamp) or we've forced them to use a case of post-it notes to espy theme, point of view, imagery, symbolism, pathetic fallacy, metaphor, tone, and........you get the picture. Arghhhh. Has anyone heard of Teachercide? But here's the thing: Gallagher teaches the long complex works by, yep, you guessed it - starting and stopping. He calls it "Big Chunk/Little Chunk." Any teacher who requires his or her students to close read a text is familiar with this basic strategy of good teaching. Allow your students to read a big chunk of text, say 100 pages of "Crime and Punishment," then go back and have them annotate a small but significant portion of it. A decent teacher will choose just the right piece. Something critical. Something rich and lovely that they can get their teeth into. Every teacher I know does this. And I don't know a single teacher that will use all of the "150 Strategies for Teaching 'Taming of the Shrew'" and force their students into a 6 week Shakespeare meltdown. Geez. And if you can't get books? Gallagher recommends going up the chain of command - and then if you still can't get them? Quit. Yes, that's right. Because it's just not worth teaching in a District that does not support reading. Are you KIDDING? Fuck the mortgage I guess. Sorry, honey. On a more positive note, I like how he emphasizes the necessity for recreational reading - that young readers need to experience "the flow" of losing themselves in the pages. Not a lot of time is spent on this section, except to extol required recreational reading (for a grade) and silent sustained reading in class. Much better books to read on this include Senechal's "Republic of Noise" and Diane Ravitch's latest on "The Death and Life of the Great American School System."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    If you want children, people in general, to read more, you should read this. While some of the information is dated (the book was published in 2007), the STATS aren't that much better, they might be worse. If you want children, people in general, to read more, you should read this. While some of the information is dated (the book was published in 2007), the STATS aren't that much better, they might be worse.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kathrina

    Great ideas, but suspicious statistical manipulations to prove his points. His tone can become condescending and his points repetitive -- you probably wouldn't care that schools are killing reading if you weren't a good reader yourself, so please stop summarizing every third sentence -- but refreshing direct, nonetheless. Flood your students with good writing, all kinds of writing, frame your classwork around difficult reads, but maintain constant leisure reading, and let it be leisurely! Allow Great ideas, but suspicious statistical manipulations to prove his points. His tone can become condescending and his points repetitive -- you probably wouldn't care that schools are killing reading if you weren't a good reader yourself, so please stop summarizing every third sentence -- but refreshing direct, nonetheless. Flood your students with good writing, all kinds of writing, frame your classwork around difficult reads, but maintain constant leisure reading, and let it be leisurely! Allow your students to enjoy something. Allow that reading makes readers, and skill-drills make resistance. Stop complicating a rather simple process.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    I have mixed feelings about this book. The problem is I completely agree with what the author has to say (with one exception, that I'll address later). I believe Gallagher is preaching to the choir. The people who read this book are already going to be interested in reading and the growing trend of illiteracy amongst our students. They do not need convincing that students need to read more. Once I got past that though, I felt he had some really useful methods of assisting students in understandin I have mixed feelings about this book. The problem is I completely agree with what the author has to say (with one exception, that I'll address later). I believe Gallagher is preaching to the choir. The people who read this book are already going to be interested in reading and the growing trend of illiteracy amongst our students. They do not need convincing that students need to read more. Once I got past that though, I felt he had some really useful methods of assisting students in understanding difficult texts. I particularly liked his idea of bringing in current articles that address the theme of a book prior to the students reading the book. I also agreed with his statement that the point is not that all the students like a particular book. The point is that they get something from it. And the one exception I mentioned is he believes that the students should not be expected to use the library. He thinks the books should be available primarily in the classroom. As a school librarian, I agree that all classes should have a well stocked library. However, there is no way a classroom can encompass the thousands of books that the library can offer. Perhaps the students won't be bothered to come to the library to check out books on their own . . . so bring them! Give them time in the library to browse and read. That is the point after all. Okay, rant over.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    Well, this certainly confirmed my instincts about the Year of Reading I imposed on my junior classes. Instead of using the 26 minutes per cycle I have been allotted for SAT review this year(!?!), I decided that my honors students and I would be reading, all year, for no grade, whatever we chose(1 out of 6 days). Kelly Gallagher wrote a book that delineated all my reasons, and surprise, surprise, my results have been exactly as he predicted. Their reading skills in assigned readings have improved Well, this certainly confirmed my instincts about the Year of Reading I imposed on my junior classes. Instead of using the 26 minutes per cycle I have been allotted for SAT review this year(!?!), I decided that my honors students and I would be reading, all year, for no grade, whatever we chose(1 out of 6 days). Kelly Gallagher wrote a book that delineated all my reasons, and surprise, surprise, my results have been exactly as he predicted. Their reading skills in assigned readings have improved, their vocab and writing is smoother and more precise, and we have become a team because of the shared experience of reading every week. I plan on using this book as evidence when I am questioned about my unique take on SAT. Thank you, Mr. Gallagher.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ricki

    This is a MUST-READ for English/Language Arts teachers. Gallagher does a phenomenal job balancing statistics to support his theory for why American schools are killing reading. My only (ever so slight) criticism would be that there could be even more emphasis on practical techniques that teachers could use in their classrooms. Gallagher offers numerous techniques and as a more experienced teacher, I found it easy to employ his philosophies, but I felt as if there could be even more activities fo This is a MUST-READ for English/Language Arts teachers. Gallagher does a phenomenal job balancing statistics to support his theory for why American schools are killing reading. My only (ever so slight) criticism would be that there could be even more emphasis on practical techniques that teachers could use in their classrooms. Gallagher offers numerous techniques and as a more experienced teacher, I found it easy to employ his philosophies, but I felt as if there could be even more activities for beginning teachers. Teachers who completely agree with Gallagher's thoughts will find many gems in this complex, articulate book, as they will learn supplementary techniques to employ in their classrooms and will have justification for their teaching practices.

  13. 4 out of 5

    mstan

    I don't know if it would be a case of preaching to the choir for many of Gallagher's readers - I can't imagine anyone who is not passionate about promoting reading to their students reading this book. This book is seriously short though - I was stunned when it ended at the 75% mark on my kindle - and I think it's rather repetitive in parts. However, what Gallagher recommends is very useful for any teacher looking to nurture lifelong readers. He recommends practical strategies to avoid over- and u I don't know if it would be a case of preaching to the choir for many of Gallagher's readers - I can't imagine anyone who is not passionate about promoting reading to their students reading this book. This book is seriously short though - I was stunned when it ended at the 75% mark on my kindle - and I think it's rather repetitive in parts. However, what Gallagher recommends is very useful for any teacher looking to nurture lifelong readers. He recommends practical strategies to avoid over- and under-teaching books/reading, in particular, and I really like how he specifies the entire range of reading materials children should be exposed to, from challenging texts (that are a shade too difficult for them) to high-interest novels, from non-fiction texts (e.g. newspaper articles) to fiction texts. I firmly believe that students must have a lively curiosity about all written texts, and cultivate the ability to read anything, even if they may have a preference for a particular kind of writing or genre. Most importantly, Gallagher asks teachers to stop being so hung up on a) pushing books that they think are 'ought-to-reads' at the expense of high-interest novels; and b) being disappointed when children don't 'like' the books we give them, especially classics. (Really, why must they 'like' everything? I don't particularly like Animal Farm, truth be told, but I recognise its significance and why we should read it - and students should too.) Gallagher also addresses 'readicide' at different stages of students' lives - particularly the age 10-14 stage - which is very much aligned to what is happening in Singapore as well. He says that Sustained Silent Reading will help increase test scores as well as give students time and space to explore their interest in reading (which is very important if they have no time, inclination or a suitable environment in which to do so at home). And we should bring libraries to students (bring books to class) rather than bring them to the library occasionally to wander aimlessly around the stacks. (Epiphany: no wonder those library trips didn't work...) I urge language teachers to read this. The pages fly by, and if you've not read anything about reading in school before, this might change your own mindset about how much we should prioritise it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    This book spoke straight to my heart. I am a reader - a staying up till 3am, books spilling out of the shelves, don't look at my Amazon bill, reader. To quote Thomas Jefferson "I cannot live without books." I am also a teacher. When I started teaching I remember telling people that my number one goal was to help my students learn to love reading as much as I do. I am in my fourth year of teaching and over the years I've noticed that many teachers become disillusioned and the new goal becomes "PA This book spoke straight to my heart. I am a reader - a staying up till 3am, books spilling out of the shelves, don't look at my Amazon bill, reader. To quote Thomas Jefferson "I cannot live without books." I am also a teacher. When I started teaching I remember telling people that my number one goal was to help my students learn to love reading as much as I do. I am in my fourth year of teaching and over the years I've noticed that many teachers become disillusioned and the new goal becomes "PASS THE TEST." As Gallagher points out, though, good readers generally pass tests just because. It breaks my heart to see school kill the love of reading in young students. I loved this book because Gallagher put into words what I so passionately feel. Reading is magic. Reading is powerful. As Betty Smith says "Oh, magic hour when a child first knows it can read printed words!" And as Dr. Seuss says "The more that you read the more things you will know, the more that you know, the more places you'll go." (Incidently, I was reading that book to my students the other day and got all teary-eyed when I got to that part because of how much I truly believe it.) Gallagher makes a strong and passionate stand for reading. He details the way that teachers kill books and how we can counteract that. I teach first grade and while this book was written from more of a secondary perspective, I feel it can apply across the board. It is shameful when teachers kill reading in the name of a test. Reading can bring such joy and enrichment, I wish everyone could feel that. Books are my therapy, soul and heart. I was so happy the other day when one of my first graders said to me "you really like books, huh?" I'm glad that they see that in me and I hope I can pass a small part of that love onto them. If you are a teacher you MUST read this book. It is inspiring and the suggestions are well-researched and easy to implement.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Holly Mueller

    Sigh. I almost don't want to be done with this book because it's so good. I read this on the heels of reading Book Love by Penny Kittle (I've had Readicide for several years after seeing him at the Dublin Literacy Conference; I just haven't gotten around to reading it - shameful, I know) - obviously Kittle and Gallagher are kindred spirits. I'm so sad that my enthusiastic 4th grade readers could fall prey to readicide, but there are cautionary tales for elementary teachers in this book, too. Gal Sigh. I almost don't want to be done with this book because it's so good. I read this on the heels of reading Book Love by Penny Kittle (I've had Readicide for several years after seeing him at the Dublin Literacy Conference; I just haven't gotten around to reading it - shameful, I know) - obviously Kittle and Gallagher are kindred spirits. I'm so sad that my enthusiastic 4th grade readers could fall prey to readicide, but there are cautionary tales for elementary teachers in this book, too. Gallagher cautions us that there is a fine line to overteaching and underteaching a book, a warning to all grade levels, and we need to be encouraging a 50/50 practice - 50% required reading/classics to 50% recreational reading. Amen! I also loved the anecdote about a book Gallagher was trying to book talk in his classroom that was just thirty-eight steps from his classroom to the library, but he couldn't get the students to check out all three copies. However, when he brought the copies INTO the classroom, they disappeared. "Instead of always taking students to the library, it is often much more effective to bring the library to the students." Some students helped me pack up my books this year since I'm moving buildings and grade levels, and one of the students said, "Mrs. Mueller - you have OBBD." Of course I asked what that was. "Obsessive book buying disorder. But that's not a bad thing!" I loved that - she happened to read over 80 books this year, many which came from my classroom library or the books I brought in from the public library. Thank you, Kelly Gallagher, for saying that high stakes testing is creating readicide - our students' creativity and critical thinking are at jeopardy. Whether or not we choose to fight that battle, however, we can be fostering the love of reading in the meantime by using some of the tips in this book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    I liked this book and agree with the points the author makes. But even while my school read this for a book group. the pressure in the school and in the district to commit Readicide is overwhelming. To teach as suggested in this book is to be criticized and unwelcome in the school environment. The pressure is intense to teach "skills" and do things that this book criticizes is still there. An aide told me once that if she had to write in a journal every time she read a book she'd throw the book I liked this book and agree with the points the author makes. But even while my school read this for a book group. the pressure in the school and in the district to commit Readicide is overwhelming. To teach as suggested in this book is to be criticized and unwelcome in the school environment. The pressure is intense to teach "skills" and do things that this book criticizes is still there. An aide told me once that if she had to write in a journal every time she read a book she'd throw the book across the room. She's got a point. I was upset that the author tended to mention ESOL students as a "problem". They aren't a problem and they aren't "behind". They are learning a new language and adapting to a new education system. Probably a new country also. What has labeled them a problem are unrealistic expectations and the idea they there is some way to rush the language learning process.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sarah M.

    I've been meaning to read this for a while. Though written a number of years ago, this book is still so relevant to our efforts to help students to become readers. I LOVE the recipe for readicide: The Kill-a-Reader Casserole Take one large novel. dice into as many pieces as possible. Douse with sticky notes. Remove book from oven every five minutes and insert worksheets. Add more sticky notes. Baste until novel is unrecognizable, far beyond well don. Serve in choppy, bite-size chunks. (p. 73) This reall I've been meaning to read this for a while. Though written a number of years ago, this book is still so relevant to our efforts to help students to become readers. I LOVE the recipe for readicide: The Kill-a-Reader Casserole Take one large novel. dice into as many pieces as possible. Douse with sticky notes. Remove book from oven every five minutes and insert worksheets. Add more sticky notes. Baste until novel is unrecognizable, far beyond well don. Serve in choppy, bite-size chunks. (p. 73) This really speaks to many of the pressures teachers feel to go about dealing with novels traditionally... but if our goal is building readers, we must do something different.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    This book was published nine years ago, and it is as relevant today as it was then. Unfortunately, I think it is even MORE relevant today as more and more curriculum adopts teaching to the test and provides students with excerpts and skills and discrete questions to further sap any love of reading we might hope our students to have. Our students are expected to work on computers, not with paper text, nor are they given entire articles, but read piecemeal disparate excerpts that somehow connect b This book was published nine years ago, and it is as relevant today as it was then. Unfortunately, I think it is even MORE relevant today as more and more curriculum adopts teaching to the test and provides students with excerpts and skills and discrete questions to further sap any love of reading we might hope our students to have. Our students are expected to work on computers, not with paper text, nor are they given entire articles, but read piecemeal disparate excerpts that somehow connect by theme (and are not even assessed on the lessons of that theme). I can only imagine how frustrated Gallagher must be after having sounded the alarm for over twenty years about the decline of literacy and love of reading in our educational system. In this book he outlines how we kill the love of reading in our classrooms. As an English teacher it is a really fine line between how much to "teach" and how to let go and let the students determine their own path. Gallagher provides many recommendations to hit the "sweet spot" of teaching and describes the role of the teacher in teaching the reading process. It is all very helpful and a bit overwhelming. I would love to see his novel-units to see how exactly he balances his students' readings with their understanding. If you are an educator more concerned about building a better human and reader than building a better test-taker, this book is for you.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lars Guthrie

    This was a perfect book to read in conjunction with Nancie Atwell’s 'The Reading Zone,' along with my current reading on reading, Louise Rosenblatt’s seminal 'Literature as Exploration.' All three authors emphasize the need for students to read what they are interested in reading, and to be given the time to pursue those interests. Both Atwell and Gallagher believe kids deserve the freedom to be captured and captivated by books, without having to fill out volumes of worksheets or paste in reams o This was a perfect book to read in conjunction with Nancie Atwell’s 'The Reading Zone,' along with my current reading on reading, Louise Rosenblatt’s seminal 'Literature as Exploration.' All three authors emphasize the need for students to read what they are interested in reading, and to be given the time to pursue those interests. Both Atwell and Gallagher believe kids deserve the freedom to be captured and captivated by books, without having to fill out volumes of worksheets or paste in reams of sticky notes. 'It is not enough,' notes Rosenblatt, 'merely to think of what the student ought to read. Choices must reflect a sense of the possible links between those materials and present levels of emotional maturity.' If children personally connect to books, they will want to read books. If they want to read books, they will read more. Surely, more reading will lead to more proficient reading, increased vocabulary, advanced understanding and empathy, and improved thinking. Atwell persuasively argues for the connection between 'frequent, voluminous reading' and success, both academically and in life. Like Atwell, Gallagher clearly respects whole language philosophy. 'Readacide' (a catchy title, and one that catches what I see happening to some middle school students) starts with a foreword by Richard Allington and ends with a nod to Regie Routman, two authors closely identified with whole language. Indeed, Gallagher takes an even more active political stance than Atwell, berating what he calls the Paige Paradox, named after George W. Bush’s secretary of education. A narrow overemphasis on teaching to tests that assess reading skills, Gallagher proposes, has resulted in a dangerous de-emphasis on reading itself. When students are assessed, those in schools with fewer resources are, unsurprisingly, found to be the ones who do worst. Low-performing schools are then given fewer tax dollars and pushed toward more 'teaching to the test.' A vicious cycle is now in place, where the solution to the problem creates a bigger and bigger problem. But Gallagher does not want to eliminate accountability. Instead, he makes the case, like Atwell, that if students had more choices and read more, test scores would improve. Two other benefits would accrue: students would build more background knowledge and would acquire the habit of reading for pleasure. Actually, I found Gallagher’s approach to be more measured than Atwell’s. 'As much as I respect Atwell,' he writes, 'she and I part' on the issue of required reading and the dissection of that reading. Gallagher points out that first of all, this is a given. School districts mandate titles and invest in them. Teachers must teach them. This isn’t all bad, either. There is value in being aware of a canon, as hard as it might be for stakeholders to agree on what should be in it. And there is value in an entire class focusing on one piece of literature. More importantly, students should be challenged with works they would not choose, and should learn about methods of analyzing such works and their underlying structures. Done in the right way, this can enhance their personal reading and push it to a higher level. Teachers, says Gallagher, need to find the 'sweet spot' when teaching classic literature. While he would agree with Atwell that there is a danger in 'overteaching,' he might not see eye to eye with her denigration of explicitly taught comprehension techniques, promoted in influential books like Ellin Keene and Susan Zimmerman’s 'Mosaic of Thought' and Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudis’s 'Strategies That Work.' This is because Gallagher worries about 'underteaching' reading strategies as well. While too much attention to the details can interfere with overall understanding, I agree with Gallagher that students need to learn how to learn, and how good readers come to terms with complex test. While making this point, Gallagher does not give up on reading by choice. He advocates what he calls the 50/50 approach, telling us that 'half of the reading I want my students to do is recreational. That means there is no framing, no second- and third-draft reading, no big chunk/little chunk approach, no guided tour, and no time examining metacognition.' This appeal for balance really resonated with me. Reading Atwell, Gallagher and Rosenblatt, I’ve had to overcome my aversion to two seemingly innocuous words, 'whole language.' I’ve struggled with getting away from the 'you're wrong and I'm right' paradigm and moving toward a 'what works' model. Invective just gets in the way. From my work with children, it’s clear to me that many kids, not reading as much as they should, are not given enough encouragement and opportunity to discover what they want to read. We should be as insistent about instilling a love of literacy as we are about developing the skills necessary for literacy. It’s clear that Gallagher loves to read. 'Readacide' is full of high and low literary references, and an appendix called '101 Books My Reluctant Readers Love to Read' shows that he is paying attention to what hooks kids today. Highly recommended.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Jayne

    I love read Gallagher. He’s honest about what we face as teachers, yet has practical suggestions. I’m always motivated and refreshed after reading his books, and this one was no exception. Although “outdated” at this point - the information hasn’t really changed which makes his message just as important: the craft of teaching is to foster the love of learning as well as teach.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    THIS IS PURE GOLD. Kelly Gallagher brings down some serious truth bombs in this quick read and I’m forever changed by it. This is a MUST read for educators and administrators— as well as parents. His no nonsense approach to what is happening inside schools that is killing readers is spot on and it needs to end now.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    This book is a must-read for anyone who has children or helps them learn to read. The author is a high school language arts teacher, so it's mainly geared toward what's happening in high schools to make teens hate reading; however, it's still relevant for all ages. Basically, as a nation, we are graduating students who will never again pick up a book for pleasure. With all the standardized testing, teachers are making kids read only to get the information needed in order to answer a multiple cho This book is a must-read for anyone who has children or helps them learn to read. The author is a high school language arts teacher, so it's mainly geared toward what's happening in high schools to make teens hate reading; however, it's still relevant for all ages. Basically, as a nation, we are graduating students who will never again pick up a book for pleasure. With all the standardized testing, teachers are making kids read only to get the information needed in order to answer a multiple choice test; reading for pleasure in class is becoming a thing of the past, which means many kids aren't reading at home for fun, either. Teachers are also "post-it noting" books to death - kids can't just read a book & get in the "reading zone" where they lose themselves in the book. They have to stop & reflect & write notes on just about every page they read. It's really scary stuff and -unfortunately- true, because I see what he's talking about in my elementary school. As a reading instructor, this book has helped me see that besides helping my students learn to read, it's even more important that I be the one who helps instill a love of reading, since there may not be anyone in their lives who will. If you're interested or concerned about what's happening to the reading habits of present and future generations, you have to read this book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    Just reread this, and I'm even more impressed. Every teacher, English or not, needs to read this, and every school needs to follow these ideas. Gallagher shows how to avoid over-teaching and under-teaching the classics...how to frame the study of a challenging text, and how to support students' efforts. His book list is one I'll share with my students, and his ideas will find their way into our "Literacy Site Goal!" I got to read a pre-publication copy, and I ordered my own to mark up and put my Just reread this, and I'm even more impressed. Every teacher, English or not, needs to read this, and every school needs to follow these ideas. Gallagher shows how to avoid over-teaching and under-teaching the classics...how to frame the study of a challenging text, and how to support students' efforts. His book list is one I'll share with my students, and his ideas will find their way into our "Literacy Site Goal!" I got to read a pre-publication copy, and I ordered my own to mark up and put my stickies in. Gallagher shows, logically and unemotionally, how the current testing policies and the constraints they place on what happens in the classroom, are killing kids' love of learning. His own research is new and convincing, and everything he says makes me nod in agreement. This will be an important book for what I do in my classroom. It makes me extremely grateful that my principals have 'gotten it' and understand we are not just blowing off an hour in my class; we're preparing students to be test takers, citizens, and most important to me, parents who read to their children. One of his statistics is 50% of adults do not read for themselves, or to their children. OMG!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    How is it that our public schools have degenerated into test preparation centers? Why is it that in preparing our students to demonstrate progress via standardized tests, we've actually inhibited their growth as independent, creative thinkers? Since when are books missing from English classrooms, and what can we do to rekindle students' love of reading? We find the answers in Kelly Gallagher's Readicide. I think Readicide is a highly accessible book that offers not only good information about lit How is it that our public schools have degenerated into test preparation centers? Why is it that in preparing our students to demonstrate progress via standardized tests, we've actually inhibited their growth as independent, creative thinkers? Since when are books missing from English classrooms, and what can we do to rekindle students' love of reading? We find the answers in Kelly Gallagher's Readicide. I think Readicide is a highly accessible book that offers not only good information about literacy, but also many techniques to promote effective reading in the classroom. Gallagher explains that reading is a skill that needs to be taught; we must look beyond decoding words and train students to read deeply. This practice will help students become critical thinkers. As a teacher, I will employ many of the strategies that Gallagher suggests, such as creating a "book flood" in the classroom, using "one pagers," incorporating reading from many sources such as newspapers, magazines, and websites, and adopting a "big chunk/little chunk philosophy," just to name a few.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    This book is definitely worth reading, but I also found its tone annoying at times. The general ideas of Readicide are somewhat accurate. We are damaging the love of reading in our younger generations. I also agree that high stakes testing and reading programs full of lower-order-thinking type questions, competitive goals/prizes, and excessive reading-level limitations are among the culprits for this damage. However, Gallagher views these as the dominant factors in the problem. These issues This book is definitely worth reading, but I also found its tone annoying at times. The general ideas of Readicide are somewhat accurate. We are damaging the love of reading in our younger generations. I also agree that high stakes testing and reading programs full of lower-order-thinking type questions, competitive goals/prizes, and excessive reading-level limitations are among the culprits for this damage. However, Gallagher views these as the dominant factors in the problem. These issues would have a much smaller impact if children were growing up in the literature rich homes. Over and over again research shows that the single highest indicator of future reading skills and love for reading is being read to out loud -- a lot. In other words literature rich home environments. For a much more balanced approach to these issues, read Reading Matters by Catherine Sheldrick.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Christy

    This is a really great, practical book about what teachers (particularly elementary, middle school, and high school teachers) can do to both prevent "readicide" (the death of any interest or joy in reading) and encourage recreational reading. It's short, handy, and very convincing. As a college teacher who gets to teach the students who have already been through a system that can crush any desire to read for fun, I would love to see more attention paid to what I can do in my position in addition This is a really great, practical book about what teachers (particularly elementary, middle school, and high school teachers) can do to both prevent "readicide" (the death of any interest or joy in reading) and encourage recreational reading. It's short, handy, and very convincing. As a college teacher who gets to teach the students who have already been through a system that can crush any desire to read for fun, I would love to see more attention paid to what I can do in my position in addition to the attention given to earlier stages of education. I don't have a classroom space of my own and I have far less time with my students, so some of his suggestions just don't transfer very well to my situation. I look forward to giving this problem some thought, though, and attempting to allow my students more space to learn to enjoy reading again.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Chesley Jones Nichols

    Every teacher/future teacher/general person who comes into contact with a child should read this book. This book not only brought up very real problems with America's education system, it provided in-classroom solutions that have worked for the real life, actual TEACHER who wrote the book. I read this for an education class at UGA and I was absolutely enthralled with the story-telling and the message of the book. Members of the "book club" I was reading this with said they actually cried while g Every teacher/future teacher/general person who comes into contact with a child should read this book. This book not only brought up very real problems with America's education system, it provided in-classroom solutions that have worked for the real life, actual TEACHER who wrote the book. I read this for an education class at UGA and I was absolutely enthralled with the story-telling and the message of the book. Members of the "book club" I was reading this with said they actually cried while going through some of this. I don't want to give too much away BECAUSE IT IS TOO GOOD. Everyone who has even the barest interest in helping our students learn to read again should read this!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Diane Reed

    I was a disappointed in the "what you can do about it" part of this title. I felt it was more of a rant about what is wrong in the education system today (and there is plenty). The data to support this could have made a great article, but was repeated over and over again to fill a book. What I could do as a teacher to support my students was best displayed in a single chart in the last chapter. I agree with a lot that Mr. Gallagher had to say, but didn't find the read very inspiring. I was a disappointed in the "what you can do about it" part of this title. I felt it was more of a rant about what is wrong in the education system today (and there is plenty). The data to support this could have made a great article, but was repeated over and over again to fill a book. What I could do as a teacher to support my students was best displayed in a single chart in the last chapter. I agree with a lot that Mr. Gallagher had to say, but didn't find the read very inspiring.

  29. 5 out of 5

    The Rudie Librarian (Brian)

    This book was a required reading for our district's Summer Reading Club Professional Development. After seeing Kelly Gallagher for the first time at a conference a few weeks ago, I was even more excited to read this book. I feel like this should be mandatory reading not just for every English Language Arts teacher, but for every reader. The statements it is making about reading are that powerful and that important. I highly recommend this book. This book was a required reading for our district's Summer Reading Club Professional Development. After seeing Kelly Gallagher for the first time at a conference a few weeks ago, I was even more excited to read this book. I feel like this should be mandatory reading not just for every English Language Arts teacher, but for every reader. The statements it is making about reading are that powerful and that important. I highly recommend this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Shayne Bauer

    A great book for English teachers. Gallagher gives us permission to "underteach" the classics. We don't have to cover every single technique on every single page. We should let students explore and make connections on their own. Now that's refreshing! A great book for English teachers. Gallagher gives us permission to "underteach" the classics. We don't have to cover every single technique on every single page. We should let students explore and make connections on their own. Now that's refreshing!

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