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Reading Instruction that Works: the Case for Balanced Teaching.

Michael Pressley. New York: Guilford, 1998. 298pp. $39.95 hardcover; $19.95 paper. Much of this book represents an expansion of a lecture series that Pressley delivered in his role as principal investigator at the National Reading Research Center and the National Center for English Language Arts Achievement. Thus, the material is appropriate for both professionals and policymakers who wish to gain a review of the research pertaining to beginning reading.

The book's nine chapters, all of which include extensive bibliographies, can function as standalone references for readers who are interested in a particular topic. The chapters cover such diverse topics as whole language, problems in learning to read, how children learn to recognize words, and the connection between motivation and literacy.

In the Introduction, the author asserts, "Much more can be learned about teaching by studying good teaching than by lamenting bad teaching." Using readable prose, Pressley makes a strong case for "balancing decoding and comprehension skills with elements of whole language to create an effective and attractive elementary literacy curriculum."

Although this is not really a "how-to" book, elementary classroom teachers will find many helpful strategies for teaching reading, and support for the integration of reading and writing across the curriculum. Interspersed throughout the book are descriptions of effective teaching gleaned through research conducted by Pressley and his colleagues. Pressley refers to these classrooms as "happy environments," in which children are actively engaged in learning how to do difficult things - and to do them well.

Chapter 8, "Motivation and Literacy," contains much food for thought for teachers, administrators, and parents who are concerned about motivating children to read and learn. Pressley compares whole language-only to skills-only classrooms from a motivation perspective, concluding that a balanced approach with elements of each is better. In the final chapter, Pressley summarizes the evidence for balanced literacy programs, and refutes 10 "dumb and dangerous" claims about reading instruction.

Curriculum coordinators, staff developers, classroom teachers, graduate students, and teacher educators will find Reading Instruction That Works: The Case for Balanced Teaching a helpful addition to their professional libraries. Reviewed by Kathy Barclay, Chair, Department of Elementary Education and Reading, Western Illinois University, Macomb
COPYRIGHT 1999 Association for Childhood Education International
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Barclay, Kathy
Publication:Childhood Education
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 22, 1999
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