National Council of Teachers of English Logo

Extended Bibliography for Reading Assessment: Artful Teachers, Successful Students

Reading Assessment: Artful Teachers, Successful Students, edited by Diane Stephens, is part of the Literacy Assessment strand of titles in NCTE's Principles in Practice imprint.

The teachers in this volume are, indeed, all artful teachers. Some of them, such as Sandy Anfin and Amy Oswalt, are relative newcomers to this art; others, like Tim O’Keefe and Louise Ward, have more than thirty years of experience. All of them, though, ground what they do in their informed understandings about assessment, reading, writing, instruction, and children’s literature.

The texts they read, combined with their ongoing experiences and reflections, help them outgrow their former selves. In this annotated bibliography, the teachers heard and discussed in this book share with readers the articles and books they have found most helpful. Their hope is that these texts will likewise be helpful to other teachers.

Note that the references at the end of this annotated bibliography merely supplement the references in the printed book. Click on a category below to jump to that part of the bibliography.

Learning about Assessment
Learning about Observation
Learning to Describe and Analyze Reading
Learning to Describe and Analyze Writing
Assessment Tools for Emergent and Early Readers and Writers
Learning More about Decision Making for English Learners

Learning about the Reading Process

Learning about Creating Classrooms for Readers

Learning about Teaching Preschool Readers

Learning about Teaching Kindergarten and First-Grade Readers

Learning about Teaching Second- and Third-Grade Readers

Learning about Teaching Fourth- and Fifth-Grade Readers

Learning about Children's Literature

Learning about Assessment

Diane DeFord and Lucy K. Spence

All too often, people confuse the meanings of the terms assessment and testing. Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that in this age of high-stakes testing, assessment carries with it a negative connotation. Assessment, however, is broader than testing. It involves “[making] judgments about something based upon an understanding of the whole situation using a variety of methods to evaluate student performance and attainment. . . . Assessment, at its central core, is about decision making” (DeFord, 2010, p. 24), and it is the teacher, not a test, who is the decision maker (IRA–NCTE Joint Task Force on Assessment, 2010).

The naturalistic and descriptive tools teachers use to make decisions are embedded within typical classroom experiences and involve multiple perspectives and sources of data (IRA–NCTE, 2010). Teachers use these tools to (1) describe, record, and map out observations and actions the child takes within a context; (2) analyze data to reliably identify strengths and half-right attempts; and (3) determine the steps needed to support growth and optimize opportunities for learning and teaching (Clay, 1998). In this way, teachers design instructional interactions that will lead to lasting change.

Learning about Observation

Johnson, Pat.
One Child at a Time: Making the Most of Your Time with Struggling Readers K–6.
Portland, ME: Stenhouse, 2006. Print.
Johnson helps teachers learn how to assess a student’s strengths and needs and how to assist individual children in a four-step thinking process: Here’s What (investigating), So What (analyzing), Now What (instructional decisions), and Then What (monitoring for application and growth or additional needs).

Matteson, David M., and Deborah K. Freeman.
Assessing and Teaching Beginning Writers: Every Picture Tells a Story.
Katonah, NY: Owen, 2005. Print.
Designed for prekindergarten and early primary teachers, this book diagrams a continuum that assesses what very young children know about oral language, drawing, and writing. This easy-to-use tool helps teachers determine instruction and next literacy steps for their youngest students. The book includes writing and drawing samples, vignettes of best practice teacher–child conversations, and useful observation forms to help educators in early literacy settings easily record observations and design appropriate instruction.

Matteson, David M., and Deborah K. Freeman.
Assessing and Teaching Beginning Readers: A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words.
Katonah, NY: Owen, 2006. Print.
Writing again for prekindergarten and early primary teachers, Matteson and Freeman offer reading reenactments as a comprehensive approach to working with fiction and nonfiction texts. They also explore ways to develop children’s oral language and help them learn how to look at and use print in the first books they read.

Mills, Heidi, with Tim O’Keefe.
“Inquiry into Assessment Strategies: From Kidwatching to Responsive Teaching.”
Talking Points 22.2 (2011): 2–8. Print.
Mills and O’Keefe describe assessment strategies within a culture of inquiry in a classroom at the Center for Inquiry in Columbia, South Carolina. Teachers at the center use the naturally occurring data they collect and interpret as an ongoing part of rich literacy curriculum and instructional practices. The authors detail how they gather and interpret both formal and informal assessments and tailor instruction to meet the students’ needs.

O'Keefe, Tim.
“Teachers as Kidwatchers.”
Creating Classrooms for Authors and Inquirers. 2nd ed.
Ed. Kathy G. Short and Jerome C. Harste, with Carolyn Burke.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1996. 63–80. Print.
This chapter in Short and Harste’s excellent book defines kidwatching and describes how it is used in every aspect of the classroom, including journals, writing workshop, inquiry, parent partnerships, and the reading process itself. O’Keefe provides a practical approach to assessment from the perspective of a practicing teacher.

Owocki, Gretchen, and Yetta M. Goodman.
Kidwatching: Documenting Children’s Literacy Development.
Portsmouth NH: Heinemann, 2002. Print.
Owicki and Goodman have produced a useful source for kidwatchers in pre–K through primary grades, offering guidance on how to make and record detailed observations as children read, write, and play and how to plan curricular engagements that are tailored to individual strengths and needs. The book contains descriptions and samples of children’s work, as well as interviews, surveys, recording forms and other reproducible documents—all intended to aid observations and facilitate the recording of key information.

Richardson, Jan.
The Next Step in Guided Reading: Focused Assessments and Targeted Lessons for Helping Every Student Become a Better Reader.
New York: Scholastic, 2009. Print.
Richardson lays out the components of an effective guided reading lesson—targeted assessments, strategy instruction, and guided writing. The book is divided into three stages of reading development (early, transitional, and fluent). It offers suggestions for classroom structures and provides information on grouping for guided reading.

Stephens, Diane, and Jennifer Story, eds.
Assessment as Inquiry: Learning the Hypothesis–Test Process.
Urbana, IL: NCTE, 1999. Print.
Stephens and Story define assessment as a cyclical process (observe, interpret, hypothesize, and test out), which they term the hypothesis–test process. The authors show how this process works in classrooms and with individual students, while teachers describe how they use it to develop theories about their students as readers and then use those theories to design successful classroom instruction.
    See also Omalza, Sally, Kitty Aihara, and Diane Stephens. “Engaged in Learning through the HT Process.” Primary Voices K–6 5.1 (1997): 4–17. Print. And Stephens, Diane, et al. “When Assessment Is inquiry.”Language Arts 73.2 (1996): 105–12. Print.

Strickland, Kathleen, and James Strickland.
Making Assessment Elementary.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2000. Print.
There are so many things to take away from this book, which includes sections on anecdotal records, retrospective miscue analysis, surveys and responses, and portfolios. The authors draw on stories from schools across the country to describe how to make assessment and instruction meaningful within the constraints imposed on schools.

Wilde, Sandra, ed.
Notes from a Kidwatcher: Selected Writings of Yetta M. Goodman.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1996. Print.
The twenty-three articles in this book chronicle original work on the concept of kidwatching, a term originally coined by Goodman. Particularly relevant are Chapters 16 and 17: “Kidwatching: An Alternative to Testing” and “Kidwatching: Observing Children in the Classroom.”

[return to top]

Learning to Describe and Analyze Reading

Clay, Marie M.
Running Records for Classroom Teachers.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2000. Print.
Clay describes how to use running records to analyze children’s reading in classroom and intervention settings and also for research, explaining how records help teachers notice what children do as they read, what they look at, what helps them monitor their reading and why they self-correct. She also shows how to reliably score and interpret running records in order to make informed instructional decisions.

Goodman, Yetta M., Dorothy J. Watson, and Carolyn L. Burke.
Reading Miscue Inventory: From Evaluation to Instruction. 2nd ed.
Katonah, NY: Owen, 2005. Print.
This revised edition of Reading Miscue Inventory details miscue analysis procedures and describes reliable ways to analyze reading using miscues. The book offers help in interpreting and using the classic 1980 Burke reading inventory and provides analyses of readers with different strengths and challenges. It also provides guidance on instructional decision making.
    See also Goodman, Yetta M., and Carolyn L. Burke. Reading Miscue Inventory Manual: Procedure for Diagnosis and Evaluation. New York: Macmillan, 1972. Print.

Wilde, Sandra.
Miscue Analysis Made Easy: Building on Student Strengths.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2000. Print.
Wilde explains how systems of meaning, language, and graphic information work during reading and suggest how teachers can help students grow as readers. She also provides guidance on diagnostic procedures, retelling guides, maximizing student strengths, and ways to support comprehension.

[return to top]

Learning to Describe and Analyze Writing

Bear, Donald R., Marcia Invernizzi, Shane Templeton, and Francine Johnson.
Words Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary, and Spelling Instruction. 5th ed.
Boston, MA: Pearson, 2011. Print.
The authors present detailed descriptions of how to administer and score a spelling inventory and explain its purpose—to group children for spelling and vocabulary instruction using hands-on materials for sorting and classifying words. The book also includes instructional ideas for phonemes, patterns, and affixes.

Bomer, Katherine.
Hidden Gems: Naming and Teaching from the Brilliance in Every Student’s Writing.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2010. Print.
Bomer describes a protocol for reading students’ writing that includes asking, “Who is this child?” and “What do I see in this piece of writing?” and suggests ways of teaching the individual that are closely tied to the student’s writing. The book contains templates that teachers can use for writing conferences and when planning classroom instruction.

Clay, Marie M.
How Very Young Children Explore Writing.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2010. Print.
Clay discusses the concepts that children explore when they first take pencil, crayon, or paint to paper, such as learning about the size and shapes of different letters and the difference between pictures and print. She also includes information about the patterns that children begin to notice about print and the connection between print and spoken words.

Clay, Marie M.
The Puzzling Code.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2010. Print.
The Puzzling Code is written for teachers, parents, and caregivers of young children. It uses colorful images of children’s writing and easy-to-understand language to present ways that teachers and parents can observe, assess, and record developments in young children’s writing.

Clay, Marie M.
What Changes in Writing Can I See?
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2010. Print.
Clay outlines different paths taken by the youngest learners on their journey toward literacy and shows how writing is central to their learning about how print works. She helps teachers understand the purposes for which children write, the various ways they represent meaning, and the developmental milestones represented by half-right attempts.

Spence, Lucy K.
“Discerning Writing Assessment: Insights into an Analytical Rubric.”
Language Arts 87.5 (2010): 337–52. Print.
Spence presents a case study of three Spanish-speaking students in a third-grade classroom and posits that analytical rubrics may not be the best assessment tool for all children.

Spence, Lucy K.
“Generous Reading: Seeing Students through Their Writing.”
Reading Teacher 63.8 (2010): 634–42. Print.
This article details an assessment process that looks carefully at a student’s writing to reveal how she or he uses background knowledge when composing. The author offers suggestions on how to use the resulting findings to inform instruction.

Wong-Kam, JoAnn, Alice K. Kimura, Anna Y. Sumida, Joyce Ahuna-Ka’ai’ai, and Mikilani Hayes Maeshiro.
“Building Progress Folios: Documenting Growth over Time.” Chapter 3.
Elevating Expectations: A New Take on Accountability, Achievement, and Evaluation.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2001. 24–42. Print.
In this chapter, the authors present a folio system for assessing student writing, which they developed to promote critical evaluation of a student’s own performance, and explain how to assemble it. They include photographs, examples of student work, and helpful suggestions for critical self-evaluation.

[return to top]

Assessment Tools for Emergent and Early Readers and Writers

Beaver, Joetta M.
Developmental Reading Assessment. 2nd ed.
Parsippany, NJ: Celebration Press, 2005. Print.
This essential guide, covering kindergarten through third grade, fourth through eighth grade, and word analysis systems, uses benchmark books, developmental continuums, and teacher observation guides to help teachers pinpoint students’ strengths and abilities in reading. Teachers can use it to evaluate accuracy, fluency, and comprehension. The book also contains developmental information to guide instruction and interviews designed to reveal student interests.

Clay, Marie M.
Concepts about Print: What Have Children Learned about the Way We Print Language?
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2000. Print.
Marie Clay’s Concepts about Print task allows teachers to observe what children notice about the way language is printed in books and in the environment. Using books by Clay such as Follow Me, Moon; Sand and Stones; and No Shoes, the child helps the teacher by pointing to certain features as the teacher reads. The teacher can then assess the child’s knowledge in many areas.

Clay, Marie M.
An Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement. 2nd ed.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2006. Print.
Designed for teachers of kindergarten and first-grade students as they learn to read and write, this book employs a series of observational tasks to capture the rapid changes that occur in early literacy development and notes how children make the transition from preschool into formal schooling. Clay details six tasks she uses to assess children’s concepts about print and book handling: letter knowledge, reading and writing vocabularies, hearing and recording sounds in words (phonemic awareness and linking sounds to letters), and reading continuous text (taking a running record).
     Use with Clay, Marie M. Follow Me, Moon. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2000. Print.

DeFord, Diane E.
Dominie Reading and Writing Assessment Portfolio. 4th ed.
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2004. Print.
This portfolio employs a series of observational tasks to assess and monitor students’ abilities in reading, writing, spelling, and phonics at the K–3 and 4–8 grade levels. Teachers can choose from a variety of assessment tools, including those that cover book handling for emergent readers and knowledge of the features of informational books for first through third graders and fourth through eighth graders (“Show Me Book,” “Show Me Book for Young Readers,” and “The Advanced Show Me Book”). Other tools include “Letter Identification”; “Core Words” in reading and writing; “Phonemic Segmentation and Deletion”; “Phonics (Onsets and Rimes)”; “Sentence Writing and Spelling with Composition Rubrics” (for K–3 and 4–8); “Spelling Inventories” (1–3 and 4–8); and a text reading assessment component that evaluates accuracy, fluency, pace (correctly read words per minute), and comprehension across different genres (K–3 and 4–8).

Fountas, Irene, and Gay Su Pinnell.
The Benchmark Assessment System. 2nd ed.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Print, DVD, and CD-ROM.
The second edition of the BAS uses the Continuum of Literacy Learning, PreK through Grade 8 and Benchmark Assessment books to determine a student’s instructional and independent reading abilities on narrative and informational materials from the K–2 and 3–8 grade levels. The benchmark assessment evaluates accuracy, reading rate, and comprehension, and includes online technological support and professional development resources for teachers.

Matteson, David M.
The Emergent Reading Assessment: Assessing Three- to Five-Year-Olds [part of assessment package].
Katonah, NY: Owen, 2007. Print.
Matteson illustrates what three- to five-year-old children know about reading and provides insights for instruction. This book serves as a tool to help teachers observe and record their observations of book handling, print, and story concepts and then use this information to design appropriate reading instruction.

[return to top]

Learning More about Decision Making for English Learners

Ascenzi-Moreno, Laura, Cecilia M. Espinosa, Sarah Ferholt, Michael Loeb, Berky Lugo-Salcedo, and Cecelia Traugh.
“Learning through Descriptive Inquiry at the Cypress Hills Community School.”
Language Arts 85.5 (2008): 392–400. Print.
This article explains how the authors worked through a collaborative descriptive inquiry group to broaden their understanding of bilingual children’s literacy and literacy practices in order to support their development.

Gottlieb, Margo.
Assessing English Language Learners: Bridges from Language Proficiency to Academic Achievement.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2006. Print.
This volume contains a comprehensive overview of assessment for English learners, including a background on language acquisition and examples of assessments that can be used with such students. Chapter 5, “Classroom Assessment: The Bridge to Educational Parity,” is particularly relevant for teachers implementing RTI.

Young, Terrell A., and Nancy L. Hadaway, eds.
Supporting the Literacy Development of English Learners: Increasing Success in All Classrooms.
Newark, DE: IRA, 2006. Print.
This text is designed to help teachers overcome common misconceptions about English learners and illustrates how to develop curriculum that meets the individual needs of these students. The authors discuss reading comprehension and show how demonstration and think-aloud help learners develop competencies in English reading. Particularly helpful are the specific instructional engagements designed to address key needs of English learners. The book also covers expository text structures, writing, and oral language.

[return to top]

Learning about the Reading Process

In the introduction to the case studies (Chapter 1), I explain how Robin Cox and I, along with ten reading interventionists, spent three years brainstorming and fine-tuning a list of what we thought students needed to know and be able to do in order to grow as readers. We strongly believe that all teachers need to construct such lists for themselves and to do so within their professional communities (e.g., grade level, school building, district). Teachers will then be positioned to decide which assessment tools are best for gathering the data they need to better help their students learn.

To construct such a list, teachers need to systematically reflect on their experiences and do so in the company of others. This may include colleagues at school or in the community, speakers at conferences, or consultants. For the contributors to this book, this company also includes published authors whose ideas have touched our lives. Some of these authors have written about the reading process, some about how to create a classroom for readers, and still others about teaching readers.

When I am asked to talk about the history of reading (and to do so “briefly”), I establish two time periods: pre- and post-1960 (see, for example, Stephens, 1994). While this is a blatant oversimplification (for a thorough review of 1960–1990, see Pearson & Stephens, 1992), there is reasoning behind it. For the most part, prior to the 1960s, talk about reading meant discussions of reading method—should students be taught first about letters and their sounds (e.g., B says /buh/)? Or should they learn word families (e.g., The tan man sat on the fan)? At that time, field research in psychology, linguistics, and sociology had little bearing on the teaching of reading.

In the 1960s, many things changed. Psychologists, formerly focused on behaviorism, were asking not just about what people did but how their minds worked. Linguists began to examine not just the surface structure of language (how words linked to one another) but the deep structure—how words come to hold meaning. Sociologists developed a new branch of researchers who asked specifically about the social nature of language learning. These questions soon led to new fields—to cognitive science, psycholinguistics, and sociolinguistics, all of which had an impact on reading. As a result, even more questions arose and, along with them, further research and increased understandings.

From cognitive psychology, teachers learned that children are not blank slates but instead come to school with schema—ideas about themselves and their world, based on their experiences (Anderson & Pearson, 1984). Teachers realized that teaching begins with understanding what children already know and how they already think. From psycholinguistics, teachers learned that children construct language. They do not parrot what they hear someone else say but listen carefully to the language around them, infer rules, and try them out (Brown, 1970). This explains why some children form the plural of foot by adding an s.

From sociolinguistics, teachers discovered that children learn language because it serves some function for them (Halliday, 1969, 1973). They also learned that in every language event, children learn language, learn about language, and learn through language (Halliday, 1969, 1975). Based on research across these fields, teachers began to understand that reading is an active, constructivist process—grounded in what children already know, shaped by their home cultures, and acquired because it serves a purpose.

While it is beyond the scope of this book to detail all of the researchers and theorists who contributed to these new understandings, the following texts can help teachers in this decade as they strive to build their knowledge about the reading process.

Anderson, Richard C., Elfrieda H. Hiebert, Judith A. Scott, and Ian A. G. Wilkinson
Becoming a Nation of Readers. The Report of the Commission on Reading.
Washington, DC: National Institute of Education, 1985. Print.
The authors of this report took on the task of synthesizing a review of the reading research literature conducted from the 1960s to the 1980s. While there was some debate about who was not on the panel, this report is a classic and makes explicit what was news then but is widely accepted now—that “reading is the process of constructing meaning from written texts” (p. 7).
Some of the most frequently cited remarks include:

The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children. (p. 23)

The most useful form of practice is doing the whole skill of reading—that is, reading meaningful texts for the purpose of understanding the message it contains. . . . [F]or the beginner . . . a natural strategy is to use familiar stories that are readily understandable to the child, or maybe even known by heart. (p. 17)

Reading needs to be strategic. . . . This means that the reader monitors progress in understanding and resolves problems that prevent understanding. (p. 14).

Interestingly, it does not appear that skilled readers identify unfamiliar words by rapidly applying “rules” governing the relationships between letters and sounds. Instead, research suggests that they work by analogy to known words. Thus, for example, the pronunciation of tob may be worked out from the pronunciation of job plus a notion of the initial sound of words beginning with t. . . . Notice that for this process to work the reader does not have to have any specific knowledge of the difference between long and short a’s, only an adequate vocabulary or actual words and a command of the analogy strategy. (p. 12)

Research suggests that the amount of independent, silent reading children do in school is significantly related to gains in reading achievement. (p. 76)

Most [standardized] tests do not permit skilled readers to use strategies that are important in normal reading. (p. 98)

Clay, Marie M.
Reading: The Patterning of Complex Behavior.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1979. Print.
In her first book, Clay shares her extensive work with young readers and introduces her approach to classifying “reading errors” as visual, meaning, or syntax. She is best known for her assessment of young readers and for the development of Reading Recovery, an intervention approach that is designed to accelerate the progress of first graders before they fail as readers.
    See also Clay, Marie M. Observing Young Readers. Exeter, NH: Heinemann, 1982. Print; Clay, Marie M. Becoming Literate: The Construction of Inner Control. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1991. Print; Clay, Marie M. By Different Paths to Common Outcomes. York, ME: Stenhouse, 1998. Print.

Goodman, Kenneth S.
“Reading: A Psycholinguistic Guessing Game.”
Journal of the Reading Specialist 6 (1967): 126–35. Print.
As a doctoral student at UCLA, Ken Goodman came to the realization that reading was not being conceptualized as language and, as an assistant professor at Wayne State University, he began using descriptive linguistics to study reading. Among his many insights was the idea that readers use cue systems (grapho-phonemic, semantic, and syntax) when problem-solving words. He considered deviations from the text to be miscues that provide a window into the reading process. Goodman also hypothesized (and later demonstrated) that readers use information from the context, the text, and their experience (semantic and pragmatic cues), as well as syntactical cues, to predict words, and then use grapho-phonemic information to confirm those predictions.
    (Reprinted in Singer, Harry, and Robert B. Ruddell, eds. Theoretical Models and Processes of Reading. 2nd ed. Newark, DE: IRA, 497–508. Print). As of this printing, this article can be found online at See also Goodman, Yetta M., Dorothy J. Watson, and Carolyn L. Burke. Reading Strategies: Focus on Comprehension. 2nd ed. Katonah, NY: Owen, 1996. Print. (1st ed. 1980) and Goodman, Kenneth S. “A Linguistic Study of Cues and Miscues in Reading.” Elementary English 42.6 (1965): 639–43. Print.

Smith, Frank
Reading without Nonsense. 4th ed.
New York: Teachers College Press, 2006. Print.
In this fourth edition of Reading without Nonsense, Frank Smith explains that children learn to read as a consequence of trying to makes sense of print and their environment. He contends that it is not necessary to say what a word is to comprehend its meaning and that recognizing the meaning of something always comes before giving a name to it. Smith believes that children learn to read by gradually taking over the reading themselves and recommends that teachers provide children with opportunities to make sense of language in meaningful circumstances. He argues that “[t]he two basic necessities for learning to read are the availability of interesting material that makes sense to the learner and an understanding and more experienced reader as a guide.”
    See also Smith, Frank. (1971). Understanding Reading: A Psycholinguistic Analysis of Reading and Learning to Read. New York: Holt, 1971. Print.

Weaver, Constance.
Reading Process and Practice: From Socio-Psycholinguistics to Whole Language.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1988. Print.
While Becoming a Nation of Readers provides a brief (120-page) overview of the major understandings about reading that are still current today, Weaver offers a closer look at that knowledge base, expanding it to include authors such as Clay, Goodman, and Smith, whose work was not cited in the Commission on Reading report. Weaver’s text supplies teachers with information that they can use immediately to improve reading assessment and instruction.

[return to top]

Learning about Creating Classrooms for Readers
Robin W. Cox, Anne Downs, Jennie Goforth, Lisa Jaegar, Ashley Matheny, Kristi Plyler, Lee Riser, Beth Sawyer, Tara Thompson, Kathy Vickio, Cindy Wilcox

Allington, Richard L.
What Really Matters for Struggling Readers: Designing Research-Based Programs.
New York: Longman, 2001. Print.
Allington examines the design and delivery of effective literacy instruction based on current research. This book is intended to help teachers create more effective interventions for struggling readers as Allington identifies and examines what matters most: reading volume, access to books, reading fluency, and developing thoughtful literacy.

Crowley, Paul.
“Listening to What Readers Tell Us.”
Voices from the Middle 2.2 (1995): 3–12. Print.
Using authentic classroom examples, Paul Crowley brings his expertise as professor and former middle school reading teacher to demonstrate how teachers can become better-informed observers of readers. By comparing actual text passages to student miscues, he provides clear explanations of information gathered about the student reader and discusses the decision making involved in moving from miscue analysis to providing appropriate instruction. Other helpful information includes retrospective miscue analysis, reader-selected miscues, naming strategy, selected deletions, and writing to support reading. This article meets the needs of elementary and middle school reading teachers as well as reading interventionists.

Doake, David B.
“Reading-Like Behavior: Its Role in Learning to Read.”
Observing the Language Learner. Ed. Angela Jaggar and M. Trika Smith-Burke.
Newark, DE: IRA; Urbana, IL: NCTE, 1985. 82–98. Print.
Doake details how “reading-like behaviors” develop in children due to the experiences provided by parents and teachers. He illustrates how children become actively involved in the process as they learn to read and shows how this understanding helps teachers and the decisions they make within their classroom support the growth of readers and learners.

Flurkey, Alan D.
“Taking Another Look at (Listen to) Shari.”
Primary Voices K–6 3.4 (1995): 10–15. Print.
Flurkey discusses how learning miscue analysis shifted his beliefs about reading and deepened his understanding of the strengths and needs of his students. Before learning miscue analysis, Flurkey viewed reading as a process of reading all of the words correctly and without difficulty. After learning miscue analysis, his thinking shifted to the belief that reading is a process of making sense of the text.

Fox, Mem.
Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever.
New York: Harcourt, 2001. Print
Mem Fox outlines the tremendous and joyful literacy experience that children gain from listening to adults as they read books aloud. This book is written from Fox’s perspective as a mother as well as from her experiences as an author and literacy consultant. Fox offers practical advice for parents and teachers on how to read aloud to children to achieve literacy growth. She also provides an understanding of the importance of hearing language and how it is foundational to later reading success.

Hood, Wendy J.
“I Do Teach and the Kids Do Learn.”
Primary Voices K–6 3.4 (1995): 16–22. Print.
Hood explains how she uses miscue analysis, interviews, and observations of her students to get to know them as readers. Among other things, she observes children to understand their knowledge about texts and their textual preferences, and she pays attention to young children’s independent book-handling knowledge. Hood examines patterns of miscues and strategies used by three different children and describes how she uses these data to guide her instruction.

Johnston, Peter H.
Choice Words: How Our Language Affects Children’s Learning.
Portland, ME: Stenhouse, 2004. Print.
Johnston helps teachers understand that the words teachers choose to use during instruction can keep the learning relationship productive and growing. This book helps educators remember that there is an important emotional side to learning. Johnston provides prompts in each chapter to help teachers think about how to use language to name what children know and to build an identity of “one who knows” in every child.

Peterson, Ralph.
Life in a Crowded Place: Making a Learning Community.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1992. Print.
This book reveals the importance of creating environments in which learners value one another, live in story worlds together, and become one through social and revealing literary experiences. It reminds us what it feels like to be a young learner among many other diverse learners. Peterson provides detailed descriptions of how to create classrooms in which all children are supported and valued and where they achieve well beyond what they might have without such support.

Peterson, Ralph, and Maryann Eeds.
Grand Conversations: Literature Groups in Action.
New York: Scholastic, 1990. Print.
Ralph Peterson and Maryann Eeds explore the power of creating classrooms in which children have real conversations about real literature, broadening the definition of reading to encompass the stimulating, energizing practice of deep thought as it pertains to the written word. Peterson and Eeds illustrate the transformative nature of forming, sharing, and honoring multiple perspectives on quality pieces of literature.

Ray, Katie Wood.
Wondrous Words: Writers and Writing in the Elementary Classroom.
Urbana, IL: NCTE, 1999. Print.
Wondrous Words challenges teachers to know writing and to improve their craft by paying close attention to process and product. Katie Wood Ray gives specific techniques for teaching structure, word choice, and other author crafts and recommends picture books that help provide demonstrations for instruction. This text is theoretically sound and eminently practical.

Routman, Regie.
Reading Essentials: The Specifics You Need to Teach Reading Well.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2003. Print.
Routman offers educators teaching and practice tips as well as demonstrations on how to make the teaching of reading a more thoughtful and meaningful process for readers. The book includes lesson plans, ideas, and strategies to help readers enjoy and understand text. Routman’s ideas are consistent with learning theory and research and reflect her love of reading with students.

Stephens, Diane, ed.
What Matters? A Primer for Teaching Reading.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1990. Print.
Stephens has found that teachers want to know how theory translates into practice in the classroom. Relying on her more than twenty years of teaching students, conducting research, and working with teachers, she helps us understand that teachers can help students become lifelong readers by knowing about language, learners, and teaching.

[return to top]

Learning about Teaching Preschool Readers
Hope Reardon

Bennett-Armistead, V. Susan, Nell K. Duke, and Annie M. Moses.
Literacy and the Youngest Learner: Best Practices for Educators of Children from Birth to 5.
New York: Scholastic, 2005. Print.
This is a wonderful book for helping early childhood educators nurture literacy skills in young children. It addresses listening, viewing, speaking, reading, and writing and provides teachers with practical ideas and suggestions on how to create a literacy-rich classroom and design effective literacy engagements. The authors focus on developing oral language, reading aloud, building phonological awareness, incorporating dramatic play and literacy, and establishing a book nook and writing center. They also discuss literacy outside of the classroom and offer ideas on literacy during transition time and building the home–school partnership. Photographs and children’s work that document children’s learning are included.

Clay, Marie M.
What Did I Write? Beginning Writing Behaviour.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1975. Print.
Clay highlights and closely examines the different stages of a young child as he or she learns to write. She gives specific examples of children’s writing as they move through these stages and explains what the child is attempting to achieve. Toward the end of the book, Clay makes explicit the connections between reading and writing in young children.

Owocki, Gretchen.
Literacy through Play.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1999. Print.
In this classic resource, Owocki explains the importance of play in a young child’s learning, taking the reader into two different classrooms to explain how children use play to learn about the world around them. This book is full of wonderful examples for teachers to try out in their own classrooms.

Owocki, Gretchen.
Literate Days: Reading and Writing with Preschool and Primary Children.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2007. Print and DVD.
This is an outstanding three-book set that looks at reading and writing with preschool and primary-age children. The first book sets the stage for procedures and routines, the second helps build a literacy curriculum, and the third looks at classroom community. This set contains thirty-three lessons, a teacher’s guide, and a DVD of classroom footage that shows Literate Days in action.

Pinnell, Gay Su, and Irene C. Fountas.
Literacy Beginnings: A Prekindergarten Handbook.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2011. Print.
This recent book from Pinnell and Fountas looks specifically at the literacy growth of preschool children. It features seven large sections covering the classroom environment, language, supporting emergent readers and writers, assessment, learning about letters, sounds and words, and Fountas and Pinnell’s continuum of learning. The appendixes are full of ideas for teachers to adapt to their own classrooms.

Ray, Katie Wood.
In Pictures and in Words: Teaching the Qualities of Good Writing through Illustration Study.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2010. Print.
Katie Wood Ray helps teachers begin to use picture books as springboards to children’s writing. This book includes fifty mini-lessons and many samples of children’s work to illustrate strategies.

Schickedanz, Judith A., and Renée M. Casbergue.
Writing in Preschool: Learning to Orchestrate Meaning and Marks. 2nd ed.
Newark, DE: IRA, 2009. Print.
This is a great little book that guides teachers through the different writing stages young children go through as they are learning how to write. The authors devote a chapter to each stage, and the book is full of pictures and writing samples.

[return to top]

Learning about Teaching Kindergarten and First-Grade Readers
Pamela C.  Jewett, Tasha Tropp Laman, Ryan Brunson, Louise Ward, and Kristy C. Wood

Avery, Carol.
. . . And with a Light Touch: Learning about Reading, Writing, and Teaching with First Graders.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1993. Print.
Carol Avery and her first-grade students show readers the dynamic, interactive processes of teaching and learning in a classroom where children are decision makers and active learners. This book focuses on three themes: the reading process, the writing process, and children’s literature. Teachers will appreciate the appendixes with directions for bookbinding, a bibliography of poetry, and resources for keeping current on children’s literature.
   Avery’s book is also about her own journey of professional development—from using a basal reading program to teaching based on listening to her students and responding to their individual needs. Even though the book was written nearly twenty years ago, the theme of a teacher leaving a prescribed program to create more meaningful instruction will ring true to many teachers today. Donald Graves called this “a liberating book” because “Carol Avery listens to children, their wantings and intentions, and helps them to become lifetime readers and writers. As Carol frees the children to enjoy their world, we learn with her how to become professionally free ourselves.”

Ditzel, Resi J.
Great Beginnings: Creating a Literacy-Rich Kindergarten.
York, ME: Stenhouse, 2000. Print.
Great Beginnings is a guide to teaching full-day kindergarten. Particularly helpful to teachers and curriculum leaders who are moving from half-day kindergarten to full-day, this book provides step-by-step suggestions for a kindergarten curriculum, with a special emphasis on literacy. Putting students at the center of her classroom, the author describes how she supports her students as independent thinkers, strategic readers, confident writers, and excited learners. Detailing her thoughts about planning and organizing her classroom for teaching, Ditzel describes how her classroom setup is related to her philosophy of how students learn, and she paints a clear picture of what writing, math, science, and social studies can look like in kindergarten classrooms. Finally, she shares her beliefs that parents can and should be partners in the education of their children, describing how she puts this belief into practice through parent orientations, “weekend bags,” read-aloud workshops, and a reproducible guide about reading and writing at home that can be distributed to parents.

Fisher, Bobbi.
Joyful Learning in Kindergarten.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1998. Print.
Anyone interested in nurturing joyful learning in young students will find this landmark text indispensable. Fisher explains clearly a series of beliefs she holds about teaching, such as that learning is natural, that children know a lot about literacy before kindergarten, and that all children can learn and learn best when learning is kept whole and meaningful. She then describes her role as a planner, observer, and teacher so that her beliefs about how children learn are realized in her classroom. Fisher explains how she organizes the physical environment and daily routine to encourage participation in a variety of meaningful engagements, and she describes how she plans opportunities that offer rich literacy, math, social studies, and science experiences that facilitate children’s social, emotional, and physical growth.  Additionally, Fisher explores important themes such as assessment and communicating with parents, classroom management, and generative curricula. Valuable resources include reproducible forms, letters, and charts; lists of supplies and materials; and lists of of favorite children’s books and professional materials.

Fisher, Bobbi, and Emily Fisher Medvic.
Perspectives on Shared Reading: Planning and Practice.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2000. Print.
Always placing students firmly at the center of the classroom and viewing learning as a natural event, Fisher and Medvic zero in on shared reading. Drawing on twenty-five years of teaching, Fisher discusses the relationship between bedtime stories and classroom reading and the theories that underlie shared reading. Medvic brings her perspective as a beginning teacher to the topic, detailing her approaches to shared reading as well as the strategies she uses with a variety of shared reading texts.

Horn, Martha, and Mary Ellen Giacobbe.
Talking, Drawing, Writing: Lessons for Our Youngest Writers.
Portland, ME: Stenhouse, 2007. Print.
This book is about the roles of talking and drawing as young children learn to write. In the introduction, the authors explain that their book is about looking and listening and “teaching young children the craft of writing by beginning with what they know.” Organized by topic, the lessons include storytelling, drawing, writing, assessing, moving students forward in their writing, and more. This text is not intended as a writing manual; rather, it was written to give teachers a sense of what is possible when young children talk, draw, and write.

Miller, Debbie.
Reading with Meaning: Teaching Comprehension in the Primary Grades.
Portland, ME: Stenhouse, 2002. Print.
Miller defines and describes the thinking processes a young child uses to understand and explores what a first grade teacher can do to facilitate those processes. She takes us through the course of a year as she teaches comprehension strategies. Along the way, she reveals the processes she uses to immerse children in a rigorous and engaging learning environment and follows this description with an explanation of the methods she uses for introducing and developing a range of comprehension strategies. She shares her techniques for modeling thinking and provides examples of modeled strategy lessons for inferring, asking questions, and making connections about reading. She also provides details about approaches she takes with children to make their thinking visible through oral, written, artistic, and dramatic responses to literature. By the end of this book, readers will see how Miller’s first-grade students use comprehension strategies independently and with great confidence.

Parkes, Brenda.
Read It Again! Revisiting Shared Reading.
Portland, ME: Stenhouse, 2000. Print.
Brenda Parkes states that the first purpose of shared reading is to provide children with an enjoyable reading experience by drawing them into the joys, delights, benefits, and wonders of reading and the printed word. She writes that the second purpose of shared reading is to teach children systematically and explicitly how to be readers and writers themselves, and she does so by explaining how shared book experiences are an attempt not only to adapt the principles of preschool book involvement to the classroom but also to refine the processes into a powerful system of learning strategies. For teachers of emergent, early, and fluent readers, Read It Again! focuses on topics such as implicit and explicit instruction, shared reading in action, the relationship between shared reading and components of a balanced literacy program, using narrative and informational texts for shared reading, and reading–writing connections.

Ray, Katie Wood, with Lisa B. Cleaveland.
About the Authors: Writing Workshop with Our Youngest Writers.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2004. Print.
“No matter what, let them write every day.” The authors start with this foundational belief because it is the point of departure for everything they have learned about teaching young children to write and it underscores the structures they suggest for writing workshop. This book addresses questions about what teaching writing looks like with young children, what needs to be in place in the classroom for this teaching to happen, and how this kind of teaching makes sense in the context of five-, six-, and seven-year-olds’ writing. The authors describe how to get a writing workshop under way, prepare units of study, conduct mini-lessons, and confer and assess young writers. With this book, the authors “hope to get to the heart of what it means simply to be a young child who’s learning to write and a teacher who’s learning, every day, what it means to teach that child.”

Ray, Katie Wood, and Matt Glover.
Already Ready: Nurturing Writers in Preschool and Kindergarten.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2008. Print.
Ray and Glover write that what brought them together was their “mutual fascination with the intellectual lives of preschoolers,” and this book details the complex and sophisticated thinking that young children use when they write. In the first section of the book, readers learn what it means to be young writers and learn about the importance of making picture books,  rethinking the meaning of writing development, and developing images of themselves as writers. The second section focuses on how teachers can understand, support, and nurture young writers with a repertoire of classroom practices. The authors explain that they wrote this book so that teachers could notice, name, and appreciate the intricate thinking processes in which young children engage as they write.

[return to top]

Learning about Teaching Second- and Third-Grade Readers
Robin W. Cox, Heidi Mills, Sandy Pirkle Anfin, and Timothy O’Keefe

Edelsky, Carole, Karen Smith, and Christian Faltis.
Side-by-Side Learning: Exemplary Literacy Practices for English Language Learners and English Speakers in the Mainstream Classroom.
New York: Scholastic, 2008. Print.
This book and companion DVD feature critical insights and instructional strategies that unite literacy learning and inquiry for both English language learners and native English speakers. The authors feature elementary teachers who have successfully engaged diverse learners in inquiry-based curricula. The companion DVD shows teachers and students at work, and the book provides rich examples of planning templates, artifacts of student learning, and clear descriptions of strategies for scaffolding diverse literacy learners into and through inquiry. The featured teachers help readers remember the value of talking, reading, and writing to learn and the importance of curricula that are grounded in students’ interests, questions, strengths, and needs.

Harvey, Stephanie, and Anne Goudvis.
Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement. 2nd ed.
Portland, ME: Stenhouse, 2007. Print.
This highly acclaimed book is useful in helping teachers think about what it means to comprehend and how to help students engage in meaningful conversations around texts. In the expanded text of the second edition, the authors address the issues of assessment, teaching students to monitor for comprehension, and how to launch lessons on comprehension.

Hindley, Joanne.
In the Company of Children.
Portland, ME: Stenhouse, 1996. Print.
Hindley’s story of her third-grade students is both real and compelling as she gives her readers practical advice for setting up and managing both reading and writing workshops. She also addresses difficult subjects such as where to get ideas for mini-lessons, how to make workshops productive in a crowded classroom, and how to assess students in meaningful ways.

Miller, Donalyn.
The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child.
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009. Print.
This book is not devoted exclusively to teaching second- and third-grade readers. In fact, Miller is a sixth-grade teacher. This is one of those theoretically sound and practically relevant gems with the potential to have a profound impact on independent reading practices across grade levels. This brilliant teacher-author makes a compelling case for independent reading and provides practical illustrations of what a truly effective reading program looks like. The advice offered can be easily and effectively transferred and transformed to support independent reading programs across grade levels and student populations.

Mills, Heidi, Timothy O’Keefe, and Louise B. Jennings.
Looking Closely and Listening Carefully: Learning Literacy through Inquiry.
Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2004. Print.
Second- and third-grade teacher Tim O’Keefe demonstrates how he teaches readers and writers through inquiry. Readers are walked through a typical day in Tim’s classroom by vicariously experiencing the curricular structures and instructional strategies that make a difference: exploration, morning meeting, reading and writing workshops, daily read-alouds, math workshop, and integrated units of study in the sciences and social sciences. Tim’s instructional decisions are grounded in his careful kidwatching, and one chapter is devoted to a thorough and thoughtful analysis of the relationship between his kidwatching observations and his teaching moves and their impact on two diverse literacy learners. Tim is the kind of classroom teacher who illustrates what is possible when teachers and students engage in rigorous, meaning-centered, inquiry-based literacy experiences.

Szymusiak, Karen, Franki Sibberson, and Lisa Koch.
Beyond Leveled Books: Supporting Early and Transitional Readers in Grades K–5. 2nd ed.
Portland, ME: Stenhouse, 2008. Print.
This practical and engaging resource is appreciated by teachers of early and transitional readers across schools and districts. In the second edition, the authors and contributors provide resources to help teachers understand and teach the transitional readers in their classrooms. They address the use of independent reading and provide lists of texts to support readers.

Taberski, Sharon.
On Solid Ground: Strategies for Teaching Reading K–3.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2000. Print.
This frequently read and referenced resource begins with the assessment of children and then leads readers to understand how the author uses the assessment to plan meaningful instruction. Her instructional plans include demonstrations, practice, and feedback. Taberski addresses important topics such as word study, shared and guided reading, read-alouds, and independent conferences.

[return to top]

Learning about Teaching Fourth- and Fifth-Grade Readers
Amy Donnelly, Eileen Clark, Erika R. Cartledge, and Amy Oswalt

Anderson, Carl.
How’s It Going? A Practical Guide to Conferring with Student Writers.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 200. Print.
Teachers will love the way Anderson encourages teachers of writers to treat student–teacher conferences as conversations. As he explains, “When conference times are times when students teach themselves, they not only learn about strategies and techniques they can use the rest of their writing lives, but they also learn about being writers who can teach themselves at any time while they’re writing.” The predictable structure of asking open-ended questions puts both adult writer and child writer at ease. Anderson also tackles the issue of classroom management during the writing workshop.

Anderson, Jeff.
Mechanically Inclined: Building Grammar, Usage, and Style into Writer’s Workshop.
Portland, ME: Stenhouse, 2005. Print.
Anderson reminds teachers that “[k]ids have reasons for doing what they do, even if it is flawed.” Grounded in that understanding, this text helps teachers refine their understandings of grammar and mechanics. Using the thirty-five lessons in Part II of the book, teachers can help children understand and do “the things readers expect a courteous writer to do.” Many teachers do not consider themselves experts in grammar; this book will inspire them to learn about grammar and to help children develop an excited and inquiring attitude about how grammar and punctuation work in a text.

Bear, Donald R., Marcia Invernizzi, Shane Templeton, and Francine Johnston.
Words Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary, and Spelling Instruction. 3rd ed.
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2004. Print.
Teachers will use several quick reference elements of this book again and again. One is the developmental spelling stages and corresponding word study activities found inside the front and back covers. Two other incredibly useful quick references are the glossary of definitions and an appendix with word sorts organized by spelling stages. Also, the English language learning teaching notes found throughout the chapters will help teachers think through how they might adapt instruction to learn from and with their ELL learners.

Fountas, Irene C., and Gay Su Pinnell.
Guiding Readers and Writers, Grades 3–6: Teaching Comprehension, Genre, and Content Literacy.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2001. Print.
The authors argue that “[e]ffective teaching in the intermediate grades begins with what we know about learners and their literacy journey,” and they detail how reading and writing workshop can be utilized by upper-elementary teachers. This is a terrific, jam-packed, comprehensive resource that provides examples of mini-lessons, templates for graphic organizers, lists of leveled books, and photographs of classrooms. Section topics include independent reading, literature study, guided reading, teaching for comprehension, and the reading and writing connection, and within each section are suggestions for working with struggling readers and writers. This book is a resource that teachers in grades 3–6 should not be without. They will appreciate in particular the mini-lessons, especially “Independent Reading: The First Twenty Days of Teaching” in Chapter 9.

Miller, Debbie.
Teaching with Intention: Defining Beliefs, Aligning Practice, Taking Action, K–5.
Portland, ME: Stenhouse, 2008. Print.
Miller argues that teachers are “the ones in the unique and wonderful position to know where our kids have been, where they are now, and where it makes the most sense to take them next. Real life isn’t scripted. Neither is real teaching.” Miller encourages self-reflection and shares her beliefs about having literate, purposeful, authentic, and well-organized classrooms: “I believe thinking aloud about our thinking is the best way to make thinking visible.” Teachers will appreciate the idea of having a print-rich environment with anchor charts, which “make thinking and learning visible, public and permanent.” By answering thoughtful questions, such as “How does that help you as a reader?” or asking, “Tell me more about that,” children reveal a lot about themselves as readers, writers, and learners. Miller believes that “when we are thoughtful in our planning, we lend purpose, focus and direction to our teaching.”

Routman, Regie.
Teaching Essentials: Expecting the Most and Getting the Best from Every Learner, K–8. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2008. Print.
All children must be a part of the learning community, says Regie Routman, and celebrating the little things that happen each day in the life of a classroom will nurture curiosity and keep learning joyful: “Celebration is about finding the joy in teaching and learning and seeing the child’s accomplishments, no matter how small.” Routman includes practical tips for maximizing instructional time and suggests that teachers do a self-checkup, asking themselves, “Is most of [my] time spent thinking and reflecting about teaching and learning to move students forward?” Her recommendation: “To teach successfully, we need to follow the Optimal Learning Model, following our demonstrations with lots of time and opportunity for guided talk, collaboration, practice, and coaching.”

Sibberson, Franki, and Karen Szymusiak.
Still Learning to Read: Teaching Students in Grades 3–6.
Portland, ME: Stenhouse, 2003. Print.
The fact that most children in fifth grade “read” influences the quality of reading instruction, however unintentionally. Sibberson and Szymusiak remind teachers that if we want children to continually grow as readers, we must believe that all of us are “still learning to read.” The text boxes, photographs, and children’s samples throughout the book offer practical and real examples and references when planning reading instruction. Teachers will find themselves using the wide sidebar in this text to record their thinking. Chapter 5, “Grouping Beyond Levels,” will help teachers make better use of anecdotal notes to make instruction more effective for every reader.

[return to top]

Learning about Children’s Literature
Pam Jewett

"All great things that have happened in the world, happened first of all in someone’s imagination, and the world of tomorrow depends largely on the . . . power of imagination of those who are just now learning to read. That is why children must have books, and why there must be people who really care what kind of books are put into the children’s hands."

These are the words of Astrid Lindgren, famed author of the Pippi Longstocking books, as she accepted the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1958. We know that some of those people Lindgren refers to are teachers—caring adults who want to place excellent children’s and young adult literature in the hands of their students. Teachers, however, often wonder how to find these books. Fortunately, a number of professional journals review and recommend children’s and young adult literature. Publications such as The Reading Teacher, Language Arts, School Library Journal, Journal of Children’s Literature, and The Horn Book contain book review sections in every issue. Online resources provide another avenue to finding quality literature for young people. A sampling of websites is listed below, several of which post annual book recommendations.

  • The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) (part of the American Library Association) identifies the best of the best in children's books in their Children’s Notable Lists and their award books, e.g., Caldecott, Newbery, Pura Belpré, and Coretta Scott King.
  • The booklists of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) (also part of the American Library Association) honor the best books for teens. In addition, YALSA publishes selected booklists that offer recommended titles for both the avid and the reluctant teen reader.
  • A seven-member committee selected by the Children’s Literature Assembly (an affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of English) identifies thirty exemplary works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry written for children grades K–8 in their list of Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts.
  • Together, the International Reading Association and the Children’s Book Council provide a reading list with a twist: the children themselves evaluate and review their favorites.
  • The United States Board on Books for Young People selects an annual list of Outstanding International Books (OIB) published during the calendar year for children and young adults. These books represent the best books published or distributed in the United States that originated in a country outside the United States.
  • The website of the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory provides a bibliography of K–12 booklists with reviews that feature literature representing the diverse perspectives of multiple cultural groups in the United States.

Once teachers find great books for their students, they often wonder, “What’s next?” or “How can I make these books part of my classroom library?” The good news is that funding sources for teachers are often quite close to home. For example, some districts have inhouse grants you can apply for; your school’s PTA may have funds set aside to support classroom needs; and local service organizations such as Kiwanis and Optimist may entertain requests from teachers, especially when the projects are literacy related. A wide range of grant-related websites, each with its own focus for giving, is also worth looking into.

A great place to start researching your funding options is Donors Choose, a group that makes it easy for anyone to help students in need. On the Donors Choose website, public school teachers from across the country post classroom project requests, and donors browse project requests and donate “as they choose.”

A number of websites also provide annotated lists of grants that benefit K–12 teachers and students. The Find Grants page of the Teacher Planet website and the SchoolGrants website are especially helpful. They not only provide lists of possible grants but also offer grant-writing tips and examples of successful proposals.

Many national stores also provide grant opportunities for teachers:

Target offers Early Childhood Reading Grants of $2,000 for preschool through grade 3 children. The company accepts grant applications from March 1 through April 30 each year.

Barnes & Noble accepts proposals for donations for literacy programs at any time. Simply submit your proposal to your local store’s community relations manager or general manager.

Dollar General offers five different grants, including Family Literacy Grants, Summer Reading Grants, and Youth Literacy Grants.

The Scholastic Book Grants Program is an initiative that provides high-quality reading materials to children in need. Its goal is to ensure that each of its book donations has a significant impact on fostering literacy.

Foundations are another source of funding for teachers, and each has its own focus. For example, the Toshiba America Foundation funds math and science grants, and the Healthy Classrooms Foundation funds grants for public health issues such as fitness and nutrition.

The NEA Foundation provides grants to improve the academic achievement of students in US public schools in all subjects and looks for projects that improve students’ habits of inquiry, self-directed learning, and critical reflection.

Keep in mind that writing a strong proposal that builds a convincing argument for what you need and why you need it is key to having your grant request funded. Focus on the benefits to your teaching and to your students’ learning and, as you build your argument, include evidence from research about your topic. An article such as “Classroom Libraries Level the Playing Field “ (Hunter, 1999), for example, cites research about the importance of students having access to books and how classroom libraries directly affect how much students read; support and enrich the curriculum; enhance student learning; and facilitate differentiated instruction. This is the kind of strong, research-based evidence to include in your proposal. Organizations are more likely to give money to teachers who have done their homework!

Anderson, R. C., & Pearson, P. D. (1984). A schema-theoretic view of basic processes in reading comprehension. In P. D. Pearson (Ed.), Handbook of reading research (pp. 255–291). New York: Longman.
Brown, R. (1970). Psycholingistics. NY: Free Press.
Clay, M. M. (1998). By different paths to common outcomes. York, ME: Stenhouse.
DeFord, D. E. (2010). Marie Clay: Changing the face of assessment. Journal of Reading Recovery, 9(2), 24–33.
Hunter, P. (1999). Classroom libraries level the playing field. Instructor, 113(5), 36–40.
IRA–NCTE Joint Task Force on Assessment. (2010). Standards for the assessment of reading and writing (Rev. ed.). Newark, DE: International Reading Association; Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.
Pearson, P. D., & Stephens, D. (1992). Learning about literacy: A 30-year journey. In C. J. Gordon, G. D. Labercane, & W. R. McEachern (Eds.), Elementary reading instruction: Process and practice. Needham Heights, MA: Ginn Press.
Stephens, D. (1994). Whole language: Exploring the meaning of the label. In F. Lehr & J. Osborn (Eds.), Reading, language, and literacy: Instruction for the twenty-first century (pp. 89–99). New York: Erlbaum.

[return to top]


Document and Site Resources

Share This On:

Page Tools:

Join NCTE Today

Your Shopping Cart

Total Items: 0
Total Cost: $0.00
View My Cart

Search the Online Store

Related Search Terms

We accept Visa, Mastercard, and Discover
Please contact customer service directly if you wish to pay by American Express


Copyright © 1998-2019 National Council of Teachers of English. All rights reserved in all media.

1111 W. Kenyon Road, Urbana, Illinois 61801-1096 Phone: 217-328-3870 or 877-369-6283

Looking for information? Browse our FAQs, tour our sitemap and store sitemap, or contact NCTE

Read our Privacy Policy Statement and Links Policy. Use of this site signifies your agreement to the Terms of Use

Visit us on:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Linked In
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram

Document URL

Document Owner

Organization Name

NCTE - The National Council of Teachers Of English

A Professional Association of Educators in English Studies, Literacy, and Language Arts