WHEN KIDS CAN'T READ, WHAT TEACHERS CAN DO, by Kylene Beers
You know you’re a reading geek when you receive a professional book for Christmas from one of your dearest friends. Either that or your dearest friends know you well enough to know that anything that will help turn kids into readers is something you’d want to get your hands on! Such is the case with this book—I received it as a Christmas gift two years ago and have almost worn out the copy I have, to the point of having to buy a new one.
I knew I was going to love this book when I read the first chapter. In it, Beers describes her first year teaching, and how it differed dramatically from the romantic notion she had formed of the profession. She describes George, a struggling reader that she failed to help, due to a lack of knowledge about how to help him. Probably the most dramatic statement in this chapter is when Beers states, "the gesture of just showing up is a strength of character." George, in his perseverance, made Beers want to learn how to help the reluctant reader—and twenty years later, she has written a book that is invaluable to the middle/high school reading teacher.
This book is written to be used as a guide for getting through to reluctant readers. It is filled with strategies that the reader can take directly into his/her classroom and use. The major emphasis is that there are so many things involved in reading—phonics instruction, fluency practice, comprehension strategies, sight words—and the list goes on. Each chapter, along with the appendices, provides a wealth of information that can be used now, with little to no preparation, other than reading the book, and knowing your students.
Each chapter begins and ends with a note to George, and the book ends with a final letter to George, in which she expresses her regret at not helping him, and her admiration of his ability to just show up—and persevere. Even though it’s filled with wonderful, usable information, what drew me to this book was Kylene Beers’ true love of teaching, and the personal spin she gave to this book—she wrote it for George, and in turn, is helping so many other "Georges" that are out there. I wonder if the real George even knows what he started?