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Teaching Literature in the Context of Literacy Instruction

Jocelyn and John explore how the familiar literature we love can be taiught in a way that not only engages students but also addresses the needs of today’s students  by addressing the complex questions secondary English teachers wrangle with daily.

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“For English teachers, literature is a beloved natural.  This passion is our strength; it can also be our Achilles’ heel, if we do not understand how to channel our passion to serve 21st century students.”

Jocelyn Chadwick and John Grassie explore how the familiar literature we love can be taught in a way that not only engages students, but does so within the context of literacy instruction which reflects the needs of today’s students. They address complex questions secondary English teachers wrangle with daily:  where does literature live within the Common Core’s mandates?  How can we embrace informational texts in our literature classrooms?  And most importantly, how can we help students recognize how canonical works are relevant to them?  Their solution is to create an integrated, side-by-side blend of canonical texts with works of contemporary authors and multimedia resources which help build a bridge to literacy, and provide the “here-and-now” students crave today.  With examples of old and new texts and resources being used together to address a myriad of themes and challenging questions, the authors illustrate how to help students make connections between the literature and their own lives.  A toolbox of the authors’ most often-used rubrics, templates and teacher resources is included.

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Introduction:  Literature as a Bridge to Literacy

1. Taking Control of Teaching Literature in the Era of Common Core

2. Framing Our Expectations for Literature and Our Students

3. Thinking Outside the Box: Embracing Informational Texts in Literature Classrooms

4. Making Literature Relevant

5. Blending the Canon with the New



Fans of Carol Jago’s With Rigor for All will be delighted with this new offering from Chadwick and Grassie, who consistently echo Jago’s championing of truly rigorous approaches to reading and understanding literature at all grade levels.  Chadwick…offers the view of an experienced teacher devoted to engaging all students in the joys, challenges, wonders, and labors of great literature. —Ken Lindblom for English Journal

With the teaching of literature besieged on so many fronts, Chadwick and Grassie have come to our rescue. They offer compelling evidence for the claim that the prose and poetry can indeed change lives … particularly when adolescent readers have able and inspired guides to show them the way.Carol Jago, Past President of NCTE and author of For Rigor for All: Meeting Common Core Standards for Reading Literature

Chadwick and Grassie’s work couldn’t be more necessary or more impactful, presenting us with an approach to teaching literature that is responsive to students, texts, and the landscapes in which the two come together.  The rich ideas here equip teachers to reskill students into the active and purposeful work of literary questioning, thinking and response.  Offering us with classroom models of what it means to question, read closely, re-read with purpose and then read connectively, this is a book that helps us see how the skills we teach using literature transcend the texts we teach.  This is a book that challenges and guides us to re-see what it means to be a teacher of literature and a teacher of students who read.Sara Kajder, Literacy Education Professor, University of Georgia and author of Adolescents and Digital Literacies

Jocelyn Chadwick and John Grassie have given us a book that is both expansive and precise, visionary and incisive. Using voices of teachers to connect us to crucial questions of literacy, this book serves both as a compass and a companion for teachers who crave practical advice on the road to compelling instruction. Sarah Brown Wessling, author of Supporting Students in a Time of Core Standards, Teacher Laureate for the Teaching Channel, and former National Teacher of the Year.

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Email if you would like to contact Jocelyn A Chadwick directly about professional development support.


Email if you would like to contact John E Grassie directly about professional development support.