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September 1, 1994
Vol. 52
No. 1


Parents Who Love Reading, Kids Who Don't

Parents Who Love Reading, Kids Who Don't by Mary Leonhardt. New York: The Crown Publishing Group, 1993.
You finally have the bather dry, with teeth brushed and jammies on. “Let's read!” you say. “Okay, this,” he says, choosing a book. “Just don't ask me to say any words. I hate reading!”
In that one brief, honest declaration, you hear your son trash his future and reject a pastime you hold dear. Five years later, he still reads only comics, if that, and is falling behind in school. What to do?
You might look to Mary Leonhardt's Parents Who Love Reading, Kids Who Don't. Leonhardt doesn't discount the reality of reading disabilities, but she believes that they are rare and that most less-than-avid readers are so because formal education discourages unrestrained reading. She insists that your children can learn to read voraciously and can move from “bodice-rippers” to Jane Austen.
Some reading specialists may question Leonhardt's statistics (she denies that national reading scores are dropping) or techniques (such as taping labels on furniture), but most of the book bears pedagogical and child-rearing wisdom. It's also fun. For instance, the book concludes with a list of suggested readings, annotated with descriptions from satisfied elementary and teenage readers.
Available from The Crown Publishing Group, 201 E. 50th St., New York, NY 10022, for $20.
—Reviewed by Vicky Dill and Cathy Davis, Texas Education Agency, Austin, Texas.

And Then There Were Two

And Then There Were Two: Children and Second Language Learning by Terry Piper. Markham, Ontario: Pippin Publishing Limited, 1993.
Considering the astonishing rate at which immigrant youngsters are pouring into our nation's schools, English language acquisition now looms as one of education's most important challenges. As a result, English as a Second Language, once the province of specialists, has become the concern of mainstream educators.
For any teacher pressed into service as an ESL teacher, Piper's book offers help. It explains the dynamics involved as children work through the process of second language acquisition. Piper distinguishes, for example, between the way a second language is learned at home versus the way it is learned in school.
The author presents vital concepts that support the practitioner in making informed instructional decisions. The book reassures educators, for instance, that they need not worry about English impeding development of the native language: “Bilingualism does no harm. Children are capable of learning two languages simultaneously without damaging either.”
For administrators faced with the task of planning a bilingual program, Piper provides an encylopedic listing of the many different types of programs and suggests guidelines for choosing the appropriate program for a particular school's needs.
Available from Pippin Publishing Limited, 380 Esna Park Dr., Markham, Ontario L3R 1H5, for $14.50.
—Reviewed by Mark Gura, New York City Board of Education, New York.

Preventing Early School Failure

Preventing Early School Failure: Research, Policy, and Practice by Robert E. Slavin, Nancy L. Karweit, and Barbara A. Wasik. Needham Heights, Mass.: Allyn & Bacon, 1994.
Preventing Early School Failure does a thorough job of evaluating early intervention projects designed to prevent reading failure in the early grades. The projects are considered in clusters: from birth to age 3, preschool, full-day and extra-year kindergarten programs, transitional first grades, class size reductions, and one-to-one tutoring programs.
The review of each intervention closely examines its true effect on student success and its replicative potential. These factors were deemed important because, if students learn to read at an early age, less money has to be spent on remediation in the future. Such conservation of scarce education dollars is essential to the continuation of successful programs. As the authors point out, simply spending money will not necessarily make students successful, but programs that work do cost money.
The authors also urge readers to inform the public and policymakers about “realistic alternatives to current practice” so that successful programs can be funded. The book calls all to action, for “... reading failure in the early grades is fundamentally preventable. If reading failure can be prevented, it must be prevented.”
Available from Allyn & Bacon, 160 Gould St., Needham Heights, MA 02194, for $36.95.
—Reviewed by Peggy Cahoon-Moore, Henderson, Nevada.

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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