Great Books: When Kids Can’t Read

If you haven’t read When Kids Can’t Read by Kylene Beers, here are five reasons not only to kiss a copy but to crack it open and have a look:

  1. It has a cheat-sheet inside the front cover so you don’t have to read it all: If you’re anything like me, sometimes you freak out because you teach 12th grade and one of your students appears to actually not be able to comprehend what he/she reads. Never fear! Simply use the handy little flowchart at the front of the book (see below) and turn to the chapter you need.
  2. There is an amazing, mind-blowing chapter called “Creating the Confidence to Respond” that changed the way I teach: This chapter speaks to how students perceptions and attitudes around reading often hold them back as much as (or more than) actual lack of literacy skills. The capter is filled with practical strategies like ensuring students know each others names and ways to celebrate diversity. These ideas built student confidence in my classroom both in terms of reading AND overall academic ability.
  3. Bookmark Templates: One of the golden ideas from the book is to have students read with an accordion folded bookmark (see below) and make notes on various topics as they read. There are different types of bookmarks – a great one is “Mark the Bold” where students write down the bold terms in a textbook thus assembling a vocabulary list all in one place.
  4. Amazing, student-friendly, diverse and gripping book lists: In the book’s appendix there is a collection of book lists under categories like “Humor and Laughter,” “Biographic, Autobiographic and Historical Fiction,” and “Realistic Fiction.” The author has assembled a really compelling list of books that I have found super helpful over the years.
  5. Get a crash corse in literacy: In a perfect word, all teachers would get masters degrees in literacy (or have a literacy specialist working alongside them in their classrooms – holla!!). However, if you find yourself lacking in literacy skills this book is great. There are clear definitions of literacy jargon like fluency, automaticity and comprehension as well as tools like basic reading level tests.

Anyone else love this book?



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