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Literacy, literature, and censorship: the high cost of no child left behind.

   Who kills a man, kills a reasonable creatures God's image;
   but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself,
   kills the image of God....

   If we think to regulate printing, thereby to rectify manners,
   we must regulate all recreations and pastimes,
   all that is delightful to man.

   --Areopagitica, John Milton, 1644

In 1985, Mel Gabler, the well-known textbook censor and founder of Education Research Analysts, said, "Humanists are aggressive and evangelistic. They are adept at tearing down traditional faith, even if it means permitting the occult to enter the classroom. They are skilled at pouring their anti-God dogmas into the void." In the video Books Under Fire, Gabler said:
   If you're talking about censorship, it's the traditional values
   which have been censored. Schools are indoctrinating children
   against their home-taught values.... Textbooks largely determine
   how a nation votes, what it becomes, and where it goes. Your
   textbooks across the nation are selected by a tiny percentage of
   the educators and since children become what they are taught, the
   philosophy selected by this tiny percentage will become the
   philosophy taught to our children.

In the United States, the combination of No Child Left Behind, socially conservative politics, and censorship have had a devastating impact on the vital role of children's literature in elementary classrooms. High-stakes testing and phonics mandates have resulted in a restricted and homogenized curriculum in far too many schools. In the 1990s, using the Hatch Amendment, socially conservative groups like the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, and Concerned Women for America began a systematic attack on books, curricula, and teaching methods. Ultimately, they were quite successful in controlling and restricting curriculum (Simmons & Dresang, 2001). The Hatch Amendment, which was passed in 1979 and amended in 1994, provided parents with access to and approval over all instructional materials. Ultimately, Simmons and Dresang assert, that amendment became a lever for social conservatives to control classroom curriculum and pedagogy. I believe that one of the ultimate results of the No Child Left Behind Act is control of the literacy curriculum at a national level.

This battle over children's books, textbooks, pedagogy, and literacy curriculum is at the core of a true divide between two broadly defined groups that stand in opposition to each other. Their beliefs are different and their goals are different. Their means of obtaining knowledge and education are different. One group is intent on limiting or controlling the content to which children can be exposed--all children, not just their own children. Many use fundamentalist religious ideas and morality as their motivation to control which children's books and authors can be used in the classroom. The focus of these conservative groups has shifted from overt forms of censoring individual books and authors to controlling the methodologies used for literacy instruction in the elementary classroom. "Scientifically based reading" instruction has become their mantra and, not coincidentally, the underpinning of the No Child Left Behind Act. This static view of education is in direct conflict with the group frequently labeled as "liberal." This group supports children's authors who tackle complex and difficult topics in a sensitive and relevant manner, and people from this group want their children to have access to these books at home, at school, and in the public library. Their beliefs are often premised on civil liberties rather than religious ideas, and they embrace the collision of ideas in the classroom, viewing education as having more volatility in its delivery.

I see no bridging of the chasm between these two positions, because ideas are dangerous and books are untamed. As Stephen Simmer has said: "Outside these intellectual cages, we are terrified that they might crawl inside us, but it is inside us that they belong" (1992, p. 60). Using children's literature is a messy business, because when children and books collide, there is no prescribed lesson plan that can predict what children will learn and what they might think, an outcome that has been the core issue of the modern censorship movement.

Beginning with the premise that children's literature is central to teaching reading, I describe the devastating impact of NCLB across the curriculum. I show how socially conservative groups have used legislation and intense pressure on publishers to control and limit the content of textbooks and how decodable readers are relegating children's literature to the sidelines (Lehr, 2008; Thompson & Lehr, 2008). I also provide one concrete example of how teachers might extend limited or distorted perspectives in textbooks by using children's literature text sets. A brief analysis of an interview the National Assessment of Educational Progress conducted with 4th-grade teachers and students provides a snapshot of literacy instruction today, l conclude by raising questions about President Obama's proposed overhaul of NCLB and his strong focus on math and science, using the competitive Race to the Top. It's too early to determine whether competition for federal funds, which will link student test scores to teacher job evaluations, will challenge or increase the devastating impact of NCLB.

From Censorship to Reading Legislation

What began as overt censorship of literature in the 1980s, with such groups as Mel Gabler's Education Research Analysts targeting specific authors and books, morphed into a systematic campaign to replace the emerging holistic literature-based curriculum with a constricted, controlled curriculum that had a tight focus on legislated, explicit, intensive phonics teaching. The mission of the National Right to Read Foundation (NRRF), since its inception in 1993, has been to return scientifically based reading instruction and what it deems good literature to every elementary school in the United States. A search of NRRF's website revealed descriptions of decodable readers and stories based on phonics as the only mentioned reading material so the mission of returning good literature to the classroom is ambiguous. Still active and influencing literacy instruction nationally, NRRF was involved in reauthorizing NCLB and the Reading First law in 2007.

A comprehensive approach to teaching students to read, as stated in the Reading First law, includes explicit, systematic instruction in these five areas: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, fluency, and comprehension. Explicit and systematic instruction in phonics is a non-negotiable component of comprehensive reading. (National Right to Read Foundation, n.d.)

Education research analysts working with NRRF have been active in promoting phonics legislation across the United States. Using literature has been viewed with suspicion, and such writers as NRRF board member and former educator Patrick Groff deplore the whole language "catastrophe" and the balanced reading "hoax," which make natural contexts and children's literature central to literacy learning. In addition to using sound-letter relationships, emergent readers rely on predictability and context as reading strategies, both of which are favorite targets of phonics-only proponents. Groff calls for parents in California to report on school practices so that school administrators can be forced to obey new laws on reading development.

In 2009, for the first time, the two groups successfully initiated an online California state textbook-approval process requiring publishers to post student editions of textbooks for public approval. Part of this process includes an analysis of the decodability of 1st-grade readers and the number of letter-sound correspondences, 70 being the approved number in Texas. The two groups have initiated a similar process in Texas, using what they learned in California to strengthen and, as they put it, implement "the strongest ever real teeth mandating phonics instruction," including an 80% decoding minimum in the text (NRRF, n.d.). Both groups realize that the changes publishers are pressured to make for textbook sales in California and Texas will be used across the United States. Learning to read has become synonymous with the right to receive phonics instruction with artificially contrived stories based on letter-sound correspondences. Some states, such as New Jersey (in 2000), have introduced phonics legislation through the NRRF.

What does the right to read entail, according to the NRRF? Additional phonics instruction until cumulative progress indicators are successfully completed. The bottom line? If approved reading texts must be 80% decodable, children's literature is effectively removed from the classroom equation; a book like The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Carle, 1969) is not decodable based on those formulas. Today, I would maintain that thousands of books are not challenged directly, as they were in the 1980s and 1990s; rather, they are excluded from the curriculum through a process Simmons and Dresang (2001) call backdoor censorship. I believe this is one of the most damaging outcomes of No Child Left Behind, Reading First, and the frenzy to legislate the teaching of explicit intensive phonics. Underlying this frenzy is a systematic attempt to initiate and control the national curriculum. Keep in mind that Education Research Analysts began with a heavy censorship agenda back in the 1980s and that the right to read is not the same as the right to phonics instruction.

Backdoor Censorship: A Direct Result of No Child Left Behind

The description of scientifically approved basal readers in No Child Left Behind leaves little time for explorations of parallel cultures in children's literature, particularly those voices considered unpatriotic by social conservatives. According to Simmons and Dresang (2001), in their remarkable book School Censorship in the 21st Century, national testing in public schools has caused a subversive form of backdoor censorship, one that inhibits the use of diverse children's literature. How is this accomplished? In the late 1990s and early 2000s, some state legislatures passed laws that tied student performance on standardized tests, such as the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, to a school grade and teacher evaluation. Departments of education issued standards that directly linked curriculum to the tests. Since the tests control the curriculum, there is no time left for reading books outside of that prescribed curriculum. Thus, teachers or librarians don't buy or use certain books because they aren't on the list of books to use to prepare for the tests. Additionally, electronic reading programs only offer certain books or stories. Consequently, librarians don't buy other books, because they are not on the Accelerated Reader program list. Because teachers teach to the test, book selections made by school librarians often exclude diverse literature. Furthermore, funding for libraries nationwide will most certainly be slashed, given the current financial crisis. This means that books not directly related to the curriculum will not be purchased for school libraries. This also means that aging libraries will maintain older collections that are, by nature, less diverse, and it also means that limited resources have been used for maintaining the decodable texts and workbooks that teach to the test and ensure higher scores. The result is that multicultural children's literature has taken a direct hit (Simmons & Dresang, 2001).

Multicultural children's literature is being censored indirectly, because those titles are frequently not included in approved texts and book lists. Simmons and Dresang (2001) provide the example of librarians in one school district who did not purchase the picture book by Alice McGill about African American mathematician and astronomer Benjamin Banneker's grandmother Molly Bannaky, because Banneker is not in the state standards of learning curriculum guides. The librarians decided the book would not circulate, which is a criterion still used by many librarians. Simmons and Dresang believe that this action is more dangerous than overt forms of censorship. The combined results have been devastating to the role of children's literature in literacy instruction.

Belinda Louie (2008) maintains that all children's books are political and that different constituencies have high-stakes investments in particular books. Mergers among publishing companies and giant corporation takeovers have made publishing even more economy-driven and profit conscious, which means that some excellent books will never be published and that some authors will continue to be limited in the kinds of books their publishers will print (Louie, 2008). As a consequence of the economic climate, aging books that are culturally inaccurate will continue to be published and will remain in public and school libraries. These books also will continue to be the first books that many children encounter about people of other cultures (Cai, 1994).

Restricting Textbook Content

The cumulative effects of NCLB won't be known for years to come, but I would like to provide a concrete example of one area of the curriculum that has been directly affected by NCLB and illustrates how back-door censorship works. One large, West Coast study found that 50% of teachers spent less than an hour a week teaching social studies (Berstein, Hutton, & Curtis, 2006, cited in Thompson, 2008). The teachers in the study explicitly stated that since social studies was not being tested, they could not afford to make the time to teach it. Two out of three teachers did not use children's literature to enhance children's understandings of history.

In the past decade, textbooks have become more sanitized, carefully scripted, and politically non-offensive and safe, because state boards of education (rather than scientists and historians) often vote on deciding what is acceptable content. A Thomas B. Fordham Institute report (2004) suggests that these bland, sanitized history textbooks have been rewritten to meet the demands of special interest groups and that well-crafted textbooks are often censored by these same groups (Matusevich, 2006). Twenty-seven states have mandated which textbooks can be adopted in their schools, including California, Florida, and Texas, three of the most populated states in the United States (Simmons & Dresang, 2001). Texas adopts textbooks at the state level for every school child in the state, leading to multi-million-dollar textbook contracts with publishers. The Texas state legislature also holds open hearings, where individual citizens may challenge proposed textbook content. Publishers do change content based on these hearings and whether they think objectionable content will affect sales.

In March 2009, in a controversial vote, the Texas State Board of Education decided to accept flawed state science standards that challenge Darwin's theories of evolution by requiring students to examine "all sides of scientific evidence" and encouraging "the presentation of creationist claims about the complexity of the cell, the completeness of the fossil record, and the age of the universe," rather than basing scientific analysis on empirical studies. According to Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education, "The final vote was a triumph of ideology and politics over science" (National Center for Science Education, 2009). As a result, legislators in Texas have moved to reduce the state board of education's power.

In April 2009, publishers filed official samples of instructional materials for selling reading textbooks in Texas; in September, public hearings were held on the content of the instructional materials, and citizens challenged proposed textbook content. Because of the organized efforts initiated by Mel and Norma Gabler in the 1980s, the open hearings in the Texas state legislature are a classic case of textbook restriction. Texas textbook decisions impact the entire United States and have done so for many years. This, too, may change in the future if the Board loses its authority to approve textbooks. State Senator Florence Shapiro and Representative Rob Eissler have initiated far-reaching bills in the Texas House and Senate, because both agree that the Texas education system has resulted in a narrow curriculum with a bar that has been set too low. "The current system has created an 'illusion of progress' with passing standards on tests, and no link to postsecondary readiness, whether for college or the workforce" (, 2009).

The goals of censors, combined with the rigid interpretation of NCLB, have blended effectively and have impacted reading materials across the curriculum, thereby supporting a climate that discourages multiple perspectives. In the past 20 years, one of the chief targets of censors has been material that some have identified as anti-American. Standard interpretations of history are so ingrained in school curricula that it is difficult to bring in multiple perspectives that challenge conventional historical myths. Perpetrating the myths becomes synonymous with being patriotic. Approved textbooks provide approved interpretations of history, a practice that can be linked to this narrow worldview.

Socially conservative groups, including the Daughters of the American Revolution, the American Legion, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the John Birch Society, have focused their attacks on texts and media presentations that, in their collective estimation, don't put the American way of life in a "proper perspective" (Simmons & Dresang, 2001). Bringing in multiple perspectives through children's literature, however, can provide a space in the language arts and social studies curriculum to explore other points of view. Missing voices include such authors as Michael Dorris, Joseph Bruchac, and Louise Erdrich, who have done extensive research and have written compelling chapter books that offer views of what life was like for tribes of American Indians, including the Taino, Abenaki, and Ojibwa, before the Europeans arrived. Despite criticisms that some of these books don't include more resistance to the invasion of the Europeans (Bigelow, 1994), the books present critical points of view that are typically ignored in classrooms.

Deborah Thompson (2008) analyzed two widely used social studies textbooks for 5th-grade children and found that minorities were presented in a marginalized manner, rather than being integrated into the tapestry of history. All native peoples of the Americas, from prehistory to the modern era, were presented in one chapter and did not typically appear at relevant points in history throughout the text. Such groups as Texas's Focus on the Family and Eagle Forum have challenged books with a multicultural focus and have worked to have them removed from classroom adoption lists, apparently with some measure of success (Matusevich, 2006; Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, 2004).

In a cross-site study of urban and rural 5th-grade children, Thompson and I (Lehr & Thompson, 2000) found that urban children of color were confused about chronology and events in history. The children, who were well-read and above-average students, conflated Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement with slavery, because King's picture and story were presented next to those showing Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, rather than in the section covering the 1950s and '60s. Several children agreed that King had freed the slaves, and one new child from China wondered if blacks were still prohibited from going to restaurants and drinking cold water from a water fountain. Thompson (2008) found that the overall stance of the social studies textbooks was essentially one of white European history and domination. Thompson concluded that multi-genre multicultural children's literature text sets are essential for building children's understandings of the complexity of history, all of which supports critical literacy perspectives across the curriculum, beginning at a very young age.

I will provide one example of the importance of incorporating quality children's literature text sets into the early childhood language arts and social studies curriculum. (For more text set examples, see Thompson, 2008.) Young children continue to have many misconceptions about American Indians, based on 19th-century depictions of Indians that are typically shared during reading and social studies lessons, as well as during such holidays as Columbus Day and Thanksgiving (Bigelow & Peterson, 1991/1998). To provide an example of how text sets might be used in the curriculum to enhance and combine literacy and history events in the classroom, I have constructed a picture book text set on contemporary American Indian children representing a range of tribes and genre (American Indian Library Association; Institute of American Indian Arts; Oyate Website, 2009; Slapin & Seale, 2005, 1987/2006). (See Appendix B.) Presenting young children with modern stories about children from specific tribes in the United States provides multiple perspectives and new ways of thinking about representations of Native people across history (Bigelow & Peterson, 1991/1998).

Teachers have several ways to combat the disastrous effects of NCLB legislation and state textbook adoption policies that ignore or minimize the roles, contributions, and presence of parallel cultures. Dozens of teachers I know say they no longer have the time to use children's literature across the curriculum, because NCLB has been so invasive. In fact, they feel jubilant when they can find extra time to read real books with children. Many are teachers who used to incorporate children's literature at the core of their literacy programs but no longer have time to do so, because their school districts mandate unqualified use of the basal reader. Children's literature has fallen into the margins of the school day in too many classrooms.

Effects of Washington Politics

A book published by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) in 2008 tells how politics in Washington and the No Child Left Behind Act have almost destroyed literacy instruction in the United States. What Research Really Says About Teaching and Learning To Read, edited by Steven Kucer, reflects the work of NCTE's Commission on Reading. Two of my favorite rabble-rousers, Patrick Shannon and Laura Robb, write about the corruption of No Child Left Behind and Reading First. They are not gentle in their accusations against the politics of Washington and cozy arrangements with school publishing companies. Pressure from federal and state officials to purchase approved reading programs is linked to huge sums of money. Because approved reading series and reading practices are now linked to tests that publishers have tied to their reading programs, Education Research Analysts and the NRRF have worked hard to push SRA/McGraw-Hill's Open Court basal reading series and SRA Reading Mastery (an updated version of DISTAR). Both series have received top ranking for optimal decoding instruction in grade 1. Because reading programs like Voyager and Open Court received approval from the Department of Education, there is tremendous pressure to purchase them. Tightly scripted programs like Success for All ensure that all students receive the same lessons, and many superintendents now insist that teachers keep children on the same page at each grade level across districts, a curious phenomenon that is not mandated by NCLB.

I see parallels between what is occurring in the United States and what is happening in other parts of the world. The United Kingdom's current model of The Simple View of Reading, from The Rose Report (2006), provides the following recommendation from the National Literacy Strategy and indicates a balance between learning skills and developing lifelong reading competencies: "Children need to acquire and practise certain skills in the early stages of reading in order to develop fluent automatic word reading, whereas the abilities to understand and appreciate written texts continue to develop throughout life" (Rose, 2006). I remain uncertain, however, about how the term "high-quality phonics work" is defined in the current framework, how it is delivered, and what the role of children's literature is in early childhood literacy programs. Mary Hilton, an early childhood educator from the University of Cambridge, has talked about the devastation that the current phonics scheme has had on literacy instruction in the UK and the vital role of literature in an environment of learning (Hilton, 2009). She also indicated that while the phonics scheme was proceeding forward, many educators were strong proponents of a rich infusion of children's literature into the literacy curriculum. The UK Phonics program has many parallels to No Child Left Behind, with its exclusive focus on teaching and assessing the efficacy of phonics through government-approved reading programs and decodable books.

What are the current results of a one-size-fits-all, tightly scripted, teach-to-the-test program in the United States? Three broad strands of research exist about the efficacy of NCLB. Some researchers (e.g., Pogrow, 2006) have found that students who made initial gains through Success for All were 3-4 years below grade level by the time they reached 6th grade. A second strand of research explores the discrepancies between national testing by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and state testing. Pogrow (2006) suggests that there is a 30-50% gap in scores because many states have lowered their standards. Ironically, students in states with textbook adoptions perform worse on the NAEP than those in states without textbook adoptions (Rasmussen, 2009). (1) Third, the gaps between black and Hispanic students and white students in 4th grade showed no measurable improvements between 1992 and 2007. In 2007, the NAEP scores of all three groups were slightly higher; however, the gaps between white students and students of color at the advanced and proficient achievement levels remain dismal. (2)

In 2007, NAEP interviewed 4th-grade students and their teachers about classroom activities and instructional reading practices. What follows are some of the intriguing results, indicating teachers' foci in contrast to their students' perceptions of what they do on a daily basis. Students read silently and select books for independent reading almost every day, with 62% of teachers saying they still ask students to read aloud. All teachers say that they provide almost daily instruction in helping students understand new words. Interpreting and making generalizations and inferences about reading is not a daily practice (as is true about vocabulary development), but these activities occur at least weekly with most teachers. This means that daily time spent on comprehension instruction and critical thinking is marginal in many classrooms, corroborated by the many students who say they don't talk about what they read in the classroom with any regularity.

About half of the 4th-grade students say they talk about what they read, and a third say they meet in small groups to discuss readings, at least once a week but only 29% of the children say they write about what they read. The remaining 4th-grade students say they talk and write about what they read less than once or twice a month. If only one in three children say they meet weekly in small groups to talk about what they read, discussion about reading materials is no longer standard practice and critical writing about reading is diminishing.

The good news is that 40% of 4th-grade children say that they read almost every day on their own for fun. Twenty-seven percent read once or twice a week on their own for fun, which is not a high standard and will not ensure that children select books for enjoyment as they grow older; however, it does suggest regularity and familiarity with reading. In contrast, one in three children read once or twice a month or less, indicating that the "Matthew Effect" (Anderson, Fielding, & Wilson, 1988; Stanovich, 1986) will alienate these readers even more as they move toward secondary education; thus, more emphasis and more funding for adolescent literacy is increasingly critical. In the era of NCLB, the rich will get richer and alienated readers will experience the deepening effects of impoverished literacy experiences as they move through the system.

A decade ago, literature-based literacy programs attempted to engage all children with reading books through literature groups, read-aloud, and independent reading on a daily basis. With the current practices in place, I do not envision all children becoming proficient and engaged readers, which is a goal of NCLB. Many low-performing, high-poverty schools now focus on teaching basic academic skills almost exclusively at the expense of cutting back on art, music, social studies, and physical education (Braunger & Lewis, 2006; Pogrow, 2006).

Scharer, Lehmann, and Freeman (2008) examined 10 reading and language arts journals from 2000-05 and found 168 articles related to children's literature. One of their findings was that the authors valued children's literature and found it essential to literacy instruction, but increasingly found that books in the classroom were being relegated to the margins because of a subordination of literature in the classroom and a general lack of support from a community that sees literature as tangential to literacy instruction. Martinez calls for research to document the central position of authentic literature in literacy instruction (Scharer, Lehmann, & Freeman, 2008); for now, the social conservatives have been successful in challenging, limiting, and confining children's literature to the margins of the school day.

I believe that this insidious obsession to teach literacy through phonics and artificial decodable texts, combined with the narrow focus of textbooks and the perceived goal of teaching literacy in order to pass a standardized test, will contribute to the decrease in the number of adults who engage with quality literature. Overall I believe that the narrow premises of NCLB have had a reactionary impact on literacy education. The Christian Science Monitor (2009) reported that Arne Duncan, the U.S. Education Secretary, supports the notion of a common national standard for American schoolchildren. Duncan also stated that as a result of NCLB, children and parents were lied to while states "dumbed down" their tests and narrowed the curriculum. Duncan also has acknowledged that too much emphasis has been put on standardized tests (Cook 2009).

Despite Duncan's rhetoric, President Obama's competitive Race to the Top awards grants to states from a pool of billions of dollars that links teacher and principal evaluation to student growth and achievement, as evidenced by standardized test scores. Will linking teacher evaluation to student test scores significantly change the disastrous legacy of No Child Left Behind? If Obama changes the pressure for achieving yearly benchmarks and replaces those with outcomes based on readiness for college and careers, will the teach-to-the-test frenzy finally lessen and allow sanity to return to the classroom? Senator Murray's K-12 literacy bill, LEARN, would replace federal programs such as Reading First and provide "students with explicit, systematic, and developmentally appropriate instruction in reading and writing, including but not limited to vocabulary development, phonemic awareness, reading comprehension, and the use of diverse texts" (Murray, 2009). Proponents of LEARN want to significantly strengthen adolescent literacy funding, while opponents want to continue channeling funds to early literacy. The real challenge is to move beyond the constrictions of legislated literacy instruction based on 19th-century ideas and to figure out how to merge the riches of literature with electronic literacy for all of our students. That's where the future is.
Appendix A: NAEP Findings 2007

NAEP 2007 4th-Grade Teacher Interview:

How often do you do the following things as part of reading
instruction with this class?

Almost daily:

83%    help students to understand new words
54%    ask students to make generalizations and draw inferences
25%    ask students to discuss different interpretations of what they
        have read
20%    ask students to discuss style or structure of what they have

Once or twice a week or more/almost daily, combined:

100%    help students to understand new words
96%     ask students to make generalizations and draw inferences
71%     ask students to discuss different interpretations of what
         they have read
72%     ask students to discuss the style or structure of what they
         have read

NAEP 2007 4th-Grade Student Interview

How often do you read for fun on your Own time?

Almost every day = 40%
Once or twice a week = 27%
Once or twice a month = 16%
Never or hardly ever = 18%

Appendix B: Sample Text Set

Challenging Indian Stereotypes: Picturebook Text Set for Early Childhood

Compiled by Susan Lehr

(Thanks to the following resources: Slapin & Seale, 2005, 2006; OYATE Website; Institute of American Indian Arts Bookstore, Santa Fe, NM; American Indian Library Association)

Blue, Martha. Little Prankster Girl. Ill. by Keith Smith. Salina Bookshelf, 2003.

Goldman, Lisa Bear. Amadito and Spider Woman. Ill. by Amado M. Pena, Jr. Kiva Publishing, 2003.

John, Roberta. Red Is Beautiful. Ill. by Jason David. Salina Bookshelf, Inc., 2003.

Kaulback, Brent. Birch Water/K'I Tu. Translated by Dorothy Buckley (Dene). Color photographs by Brent Kaulback and Mike

Mitchell. South Slave Divisional Educational Council Pub., 2007.

Kaulback, Brent, and Eileen Beaver (Chipewyan). Me Too/Si Tth'i. Color photographs by Nik West. South Slave Divisional

Educational Council Pub., 2007.

Maher, Ramona. Alice Yazzie's Year. Ill. by Shonto Begay. Tricycle Press, 1997.

Moreillon, Judi. Sing Down the Rain. Ill. by Michael Chiago. Kiva Publishing, 1997.

Nez, Redwing T. Forbidden Talent. Northland, 1995.

Rivera, Raquel. Arctic Adventures: Tales From the Lives of Inuit Artists. Groundwood Books, 2007.

Smith, Cynthia Leitich. Jingle Dancer. Morrow Junior Books, 2000.

Tapahonso, Luci. Songs of Shiprock Fair. Ill. by Anthony Chee Emerson. Kiva Publishing, 1999.

Trotter, Deborah W. A Summer's Trade. Ill. by Irving Toddy. Salina Bookshelf, 2007.

Whitethorne, Baje. Sunpainters--Eclipse of the Navajo Sun. Northland, 1994.

Whitethorne, Sr., Baje. Father's Boots. Salina Bookshelf, 2001.

Teacher Resources:

Bigelow, B., & Peterson, B. (1998). Rethinking Columbus: The next 500 years (2nd ed.). Rethinking Schools. (Original work published 1991)

Slapin, B., & Seale, D. (Eds.). (2006). Through Indian eyes: The native experience in books for children. Altamira press. (Original work published 1987)

Seale, D., & Slapin, B. (Eds.). (2005). A broken flute: The Native experience in books for children. Lanham, MD: Alta Mira Press, and Berkeley, CA: Oyate. Offers guidance for evaluating books for anti-Indian bias.


Anderson, R., Fielding, L., & Wilson, P. (1988). Growth in reading and how children spend their time outside of school. Reading Research Quarterly, 23(3), 285-303.

Bigelow, B., & Peterson, B. (1998). Rethinking Columbus: The next 500 years. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools. (Original work published 1991)

Bigelow, B. (1994). Good intentions are not enough: Children's literature in the aftermath of the Quintcentererary. The New Advocate, 7(4), 265-279.

Braunger, J., & Lewis, P. (2006). Building a knowledge base in reading. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Cai, M. (1994). Images of Chinese and Chinese Americans mirrored in picture books. Children's Literature in Education, 25(3), 169-191.

Cook, D. (2009, June 10). Push is on for a "common" education standard for US schoolchildren. Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved from push-is-on-for-a-common-education-standard-for-us-schoolchildren.

Gabler, M., & Gabler, N. (1985). What are they teaching our children? Wheaton, IL: Victory Books.

Hilton, M. (2009). Oxford round table keynote speaker. Lincoln College, Oxford, England.

Kucer, S. (Ed.). (2008). What research really says about teaching and learning to read. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

Lehr, S. (2008). Introduction. In S. Lehr (Ed.), Shattering the looking glass: Challenge, risk, and controversy in children's literature. Norwich, MA: Christopher-Gordon.

Lehr, S., & Thompson, D. (2000). The dynamic nature of response: Children reading and responding to Maniac Magee and The Friendship. The Reading Teacher, 53(6), 480-493.

Louie, B. (2008). Politics in children's literature: Colliding forces to shape the young minds. In S. Lehr (Ed.), Shattering the looking glass: Challenge, risk, and controversy in children's literature. Norwich, MA: Christopher-Gordon.

Matusevich' M. N. (2006). Strange bedfellows: Censorship and history textbooks. Social Studies Research and Practice, 1(3), 359-373.

Milton, J. (1644). Areopagitica. Retrieved from www.uoregon. edu/~rbear/areopagitica.html.

Murray, R (2009). Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation (LEARN) Act. Retrieved from http://murray.senate. gov/education/LEARNact.pdf.

National Center for Education Statistics. (2009). National Assessment of Educational Progress. Retrieved from http://nces.

National Center for Science Education. (2009, April 17). Consequences of the flawed standards in Texas? Retrieved from

National Right to Read Foundation. (n.d.) About us. Retrieved from

Pogrow, S. (2006). Restructuring high-poverty elementary schools for success: A description of the Hi-Perform School Design. Phi Delta Kappan, 88(3), 223-229.

Rasmussen, P. (2009). Key curriculum press. Retrieved from

Rose, J. (2006). Independent review of the teaching of early reading. Retrieved from rosereview.

Scharer, P., Lehmann, B., & Freeman, E. (2008). Children's literature in the classroom: Essential or marginal. In S. Lehr (Ed.), Shattering the looking glass: Challenge, risk, and controversy in children's literature. Norwich, MA: Christopher-Gordon.

Simmer, S. (1992). Psychological interpretations of stories: On catching mice. In C. Temple & P. Collins (Eds.), Stories and readers: New perspectives on literature in the elementary classroom. Norwich, MA: Christopher-Gordon.

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(1) NAEP 2007 Results: Reading scores for students living in the Northeast continue to be higher than in the rest of the United States, as does the northern tier of the country (excluding California and Oregon). Females continue to outperform males. NAEP statistics also continue to show significant gaps based on parental income and level of education.

(2) NAEP 2007 Reading Achievement Scores at Advanced and Proficient Levels Combined: 54% of white children, 16% of black children, 20% of Hispanic children, 22% of American Indian children (American Indian scores have gone down dramatically from 36% in 1994, to 30% in 2000 and 22% in 2007).

Susan Stewart Lehr is Professor, Education Studies Department, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York.
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Author:Lehr, Susan Stewart
Publication:Childhood Education
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2010
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