I am a big believer in professional development and professional growth for teachers — ALL teachers. First of all, I believe that every teacher is a reading teacher — reading is so elementally important to every aspect of academic and personal success, every educator must take responsibility for enhancing reading skills for every student. I also think that, given the training and professional development they have had, teachers almost always do the best job they can teaching children to read. The problem is that, by their own reports, most teachers (80% according to some studies) have not received adequate training and professional development in reading instruction (see P is for Professional Development). Training and professional development starts in college and teacher certification programs, but it certainly does not stop there. Educators truly need to be life-long learners, and schools should support the ongoing professional development of their staff.
I think a good place to start is a professional library of reading material. A collection of reference material that educators can consult when they have questions about reading instruction, and books that can be used as the focus of professional study groups. I would further encourage schools to support the use of those materials by providing time for reading and discussion. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if teachers met once a week to discuss professional articles or books that everybody is reading? That would be a simple but effective use of professional development time.
If I were to set up a professional library in my school, there are some key books that I would be sure to include. Different books serve different purposes, though. In this section, I have attempted to categorize and describe some of the more useful, better-written books about reading research that I have had the pleasure of reading.
The professional books that I have reviewed here fall into these categories:
General Summaries of Reading Research
Improving Schools to Improve Reading Instruction
Phoneme Awareness Instruction
Phonics / Word-Attack Skill Instruction
Instruction to Help Good Readers Learn to Read Even Better
Older Struggling Reader Instruction
Second-Language Learner Reading Instruction
Connecting School and Home Literacy Instruction
If I get brave, some day I might also list some of the books that have NOT been a pleasure to read — uninformative, badly written books that really are not helpful. Unfortunately, there are a lot of those. Listing them would probably get me sued.
If there are books or professional resources you feel I have overlooked that should be in this collection and that would be of interest to readers of BalancedReading.com, contact me and tell me about them.
If you are an author or publisher and you want me to look at one of your professional books, then feel free to send a review copy to the address below.