A Very Brief Introduction to Principles, Research, and Theory, and How to Use This Book
When I showed an early draft of this book to a colleague, she remarked, "It's like you're making a reading teacher's version of Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything!" (2008) I could see the analogy-this is a book of "reading recipes" in a way. A clear, concise cookbook is a great model for what on-the-go teachers might need to pick and choose strategies, to target what each reader needs, and to support their differentiated instruction.
You might wonder why I decided to write this book, now. Part of the inspiration came from emails, tweets, and in-person requests from the readers of some of my other Heinemann books. Since Conferring with Readers (Serravallo and Goldberg 2007), I've been asked almost daily for "More of what's on page 93," which is essentially a one-page table that includes bunches of strategies that you'd use for readers who read at level L.
And I get it-why create your own recipe for beef bourguignon when one already exists? Wouldn't it be helpful to have a big list of what someone else has already thought up? Not that any cookbook, or this book for that matter, would become a script that you'd follow like a robot-in your kitchen you might swap out the beef stock for chicken stock, or decide you like the meat browned before you stew it, or use a different type of red wine than what the recipe calls for-but it is nice to have a place to start. Like your favorite cookbook, what I've attempted to provide you within The Reading Strategies Book is a comprehensive collection of good ideas from experts that you can use right away and from which to inspire your own innovations.
So, much like Bittman just said, "Here's what I know, go to town," I'm trying to give the strategies I rely on most often over to you all. I acknowledge that this book doesn't include literally everything, just as Bittman's doesn't, but it does cover a lot of ground. I hope that I've offered a slew of helpful "reading recipes," but also helpful suggestions for how to tweak them to make the teaching your own, so that it best suits the learners in front of you. I hope that this book becomes as dogeared, sticky-noted, and coffee-stained as your favorite cookbook, but I also hope that by using this book you become ever more confident in your teaching and your ability to coach and prompt readers. I hope that one day you internalize all that's in here and outgrow it.
Just as Bittman includes recipes for stir-fry, though he certainly didn't invent the idea of a stir-fry, the strategies I've crafted in this book stand on the shoulders of decades of research and master teachers from whose work I've been fortunate to learn. I've tried to offer thanks to these greats by "tipping my hat" to them when I could. Although I fear there are places where I've forgotten people, or haven't properly credited the absolute origin of an idea, I feel grateful to be a part of a profession where there is so much sharing and comingling of thinking that one can imagine this would be a hard thing to do.
Click here to download an extended sampler of this book.