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I saw some references to books that other reading teachers have read- so I thought why not start a discussion on great books that we have used as resources to improve our reading instruction...

If you add one, tell us a little about why you liked it or what its main focus is.

I'll start with three MUST reads
Mosaic of Thought (Zimmerman and Keene)
(Great resource for why and how to teach explicit reading strategies)
I Read it, but I don't get it and Do I really have to teach reading? by Cris Tovani
(Great resource for upper grades and for content teachers)

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I'll try to list them in the order I read them. I am sure I misunderstood or didn't grasp the main ideas in my my earliest reads since my knowledge of the reading research was so limited at the time. I'm also sure I'll leave some good reads out. I am going to include some articles that really influenced me, too. I am an avid reader of reading research and have many items on my to-read list. I hope I get some great ideas here for more.... and find the time to read them!

1. "Saying the "P" Word: Nine Guidelines for Exemplary Phonics Instruction" by Stephen Stahl.
(I read this in my teacher preparatory class. I loved his baseball analogy that went something like "If all a person ever does is take batting practice every day, there is no way they will understand how to play the game. They need to get on the field, throw the ball, run the bases, etc... So, in reading, students need more than just decoding practice." Note: This is not a direct quote).

2. Phonics They Use: Words for Reading and Writing by Patricia Cunningham
(In the back of this book, Pat talks about her thinking after someone asked her to give a speech on teaching phonics. What made this stand out for me was that she talked about her path in teaching reading and how she was overwhelmed by teaching some fifth graders. This led her to get her doctoral degree in reading and to her passion for helping kids decode words. At this point in my career, I could not even fathom that you could, or would, get a doctoral degree in reading--now, I hope to get one some day! Note: Some of my facts here may be inaccurate, but that's the way I remember them. Anyway, from reading this, I began to understand that "the brain is not a rule applier, but a pattern detector" and it made me pursue decoding by analogy. I have read many articles by Usha Goswami on this. In addition, I read the article by Wylie & Durrell about the 37 phonograms that can be used to make something like 500 words. All of these readings combined, led to my love of decoding by analogy. I've also read several of Cunningham's 4 Block books and am a huge fan of Month by Month Phonics for First Grade).

3. Guided Reading: Good First Teaching for All Children by Fountas & Pinnell
(This taught me a lot about small group reading instruction and should be a required read for primary teachers, in my opinion).

4. Matching Books to Readers: Using Leveled Books in Guided Reading, K-3 by Fountas & Pinnell
(This probably has to be one of the most influencial books for me because it made me think about what makes one book harder than the next. I used it to level my classroom library and book sets. I probably ended up releveling them 3 or 4 times and learned more about what makes books hard each time. Personally, I feel this is a must read for primary teachers. Some articles by Elfrieda Hiebert also influenced me in this area, too).

During the master's program in reading:

5. Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print by Marilyn Jager Adams
(Although it can be a challenging read, I think it should be a must read. She gave me much food for thought).

6. Teaching Reading in Today's Elementary Schools by Burns, Roe & Smith
(This is a textbook, but it is what made me start thinking about anaphora and inferential thinking--things that still fascinate me. and areas where I want to see more research).

7. What Research Has to Say About Fluency Instruction edited by Samuels & Farstrup
(This book made me understand the importance of word consciousness and the idea of our cognitive load. This was a great read).

8. "Fluency: Bridge between Decoding and Reading Comprehension" by Pikulski & Chard
(This reinforced the importance of fluency for me).

9. "Reading Comprehension Requires Knowledge--of Words and the World" by E. D. Hirsch, Jr.
(This article really influenced my understanding of how background knowledge and vocabulary affect comprehension. I consider this a must read. It can be found at )

10. "The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3" by Hart & Risley
(This is an article excerpted from Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experiences of Young American Children It really opened my eyes to the importance of the first three years of a child's life--especially children in low SES homes. It can be found at ).

11. "What Can You Say About a Book? Ideas and Inspiration for Improving Book Talk and Book Reviews" by Steve Peha
(I ran across this one as I was trying to teach my struggling readers about using good phrasing. It is a short piece, but really made me "get" the importance of good phrasing. It can be found at: ).

12. I Read It, but I Don't Get It by Cris Tovani
(Okay, I haven't read the whole book. I just read the first chapter for free online and was fascinated. I have the book and it is on my to-read list especially after hearing her speak at an IRA convention).

13. Deeper Reading by Kelly Gallagher
(This is another one where I only read the first chapter, but am fascinated and cannot wait to read the entire book).

Okay, I think that's it for now. Mosaic of Thought by Zimmerman & Keene & Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children are also on my to-read list. I also want to add that I continue to learn every year at the International Reading Association's annual convention. I have learned much from listening to P. David Pearson on comprehension; Elfrieda Hiebert and Michael Graves on vocabulary; Samuels, Pikulski and Chard on fluency; John Guthrie on reading engagement; and Nell K. Duke on the importance of including non-fiction in the classroom. I have also read many great books on vocabulary including Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary by Isabel Beck. Oh, the list could go on and on.

Thanks for taking me on a trip down memory lane Dodie! :)
I don't know what happened to my links, but here they are:

9. Hirsch -
10. 30 Million Word Gap -
11. Peha -
What a great idea! I am uploading a list I gave to my faculty a month ago. We read Mosaic of Thought and Reading for Meaning over the summer but are now exploring several other books. Will add websites soon!
Thanks for adding. I've been enjoying reading your updates on twitter as to your progress with the changes you are making with your program. Having recommended books helps show teachers that they are not alone and gives them great ideas.
good luck,
My currrent favourites are How the Brain Learns to Read by David Sousa and Teaching the Brain to Read by Judy Willis. Both are concerned with the neural processes involved in reading. I find Judy Willis particularly fascinating as she made the switch from clinical neurologist to primary teacher. With a foot firmly in both camps, I think her professional credibility is well and truly established in terms of rpesenting the neuroscience in education perspective.
I've been recently reading 'brain research' books- and forgot about those. Thanks for adding them here. I agree that Judy Willis' ability to have knowledge from both worlds gives us new insight. Thanks for sharing
So many that I have read are already listed here but wanted to jump into the discussion. Several I would add to the list are:
The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller
The Fluent Reader by Timothy Rasinski
Learning Under the Influence of Language and Literature by Lester Laminack and Reba M. Wadsworth
Around the Reading Workshop in 180 Days by Frank Serafini



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