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The Book in Question

Why and How Reading Is in Crisis

By Carol Jago

Bestselling author Carol Jago argues that we can put secondary students on a life-long path to reading by providing them with a rich diet of both whole-class novels and independent reading.

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Full Description

In The Book in Question, Carol Jago issues a call to action. Reading is in crisis. Too often, too many students are choosing not to read. “There is urgency to our work,” She argues. “We are living in an increasingly polarized world. Books offer access to lives and stories outside the boundaries of our limited first-hand experience. Without those stories it can be difficult to empathize with others. And without empathy, I fear we are doomed.”

Along with her research-based rationale for the critical importance of reading, Carol offers practical suggestions for how to nurture a community of readers, providing a wealth of ideas for helping students to:

• Begin to think of themselves as readers
• Choose books for themselves purposefully — for pleasure and for challenge
• Know what to do when confronted with unfamiliar vocabulary
• Develop confidence navigating complex sentence structures
• Overcome their instinctive fear of poetry
• Participate (both speaking AND listening) in classroom conversations
• Find time to read outside of class
• Write from the heart about what they have read

The book includes an extensive recommended book list for middle and high school classroom libraries. Without easy access to a wide range of appetizing books, students have difficulty making reading the one habit they never wish to break.

Additional Resource Information

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Ch. 1: The Problem
Ch. 2: Any Given Monday
Ch. 3: Stimulating Competent, Confident, and Compulsive Readers
Ch. 4: Teaching with Intention and Heart
Ch. 5: Words, Words, Words
Ch. 6: Instructional Moves That Matter
Ch. 7: Losing Our Literature?
Ch. 8: Grasping Poetry
Ch. 9: Asking Better Questions
Ch. 10: Creating a Community of Readers
Appendix A: NCTE Statement on Classroom Libraries
Appendix B: Suggestions for Your Classroom Library
Appendix C: Recommendations from Avid Readers



"In a time when many of our students find themselves in “book droughts,” Carol Jago’s The Book in Question provides teachers with practical, useful tips that encourage adolescents to become confident, habitual readers. Refreshingly, this book moves our focus away from blaming the decline of reading on external factors, and, instead, rightly asks teachers to carefully consider key teaching practices that have proven to reignite a passion for books."--Kelly Gallagher

"It is magical to lean in and listen to Carol Jago, someone who loves language and learning, who is unafraid to challenge assumptions (even her own) and who continues to grow as a teacher and a leader. Carol’s attention to the reading of complex visual images and disciplinary literacy gave me new ways to think about supporting all teachers, not just teachers of English.
In The Book In Question: Why and How Reading is in Crisis, Carol’s fine writing is the best kind of mentor text for anyone who aspires to write professionally: rich and varied, funny and wise, Carol writes with ease and with an attention to the needs of all teachers."--Penny Kittle

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