I Hear America Reading: Why We Read What We Read / Edition 1

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Overview

"In an era of decreasing commitment to literacy . . . it is no surprise that most students, too, are bypassing books." So wrote English teacher Jim Burke in a seminal letter to the San Francisco Chronicle-seminal because of the astounding response that ensued when he invited readers to "write to my high school students about your experiences with books, perhaps telling them what role books and literature have played in your life." More than one thousand pages of letters came pouring in. The best are collected in this funny, poignant, and inspiring book.

As poet Muriel Rukeyser wrote, "Our lives are not made up of atoms. They are made of stories," and here we find plenty of them-stories from librarians and celebrities, nuns and felons, cattle ranchers and artists, second graders and septuagenarians. Through their experiences, we become enveloped in a rich tapestry of life. And isn't that the miracle of reading itself, its ability to inspire us across the full spectrum of humanity?

Each letter is preceded by an insightful quote from a famous person musing on the power of books. The appendixes feature extensive lists of recommended books for all types of readers, including lists broken into categories like "Ten Books We Should All Read Before Childhood Ends" and "Ten Books a Teenage Boy Would Want to Read."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Having spent two days with [this book], allow me to shout to everyone within earshot: This is brilliant. What a grand idea. It should be must reading for everyone in teaching . . .”–Jim Trelease, Author of The Read Aloud Handbook
VOYA
Frustrated by his high school students' claims that books have little value, English teacher Burke sent a letter to the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle asking people to write to his students about their "experiences with books." More than four hundred letters resulted. Burke gathers almost fifty of them here, interspersing the letters with quotations about reading. In prose that ranges from haltingly written to beautifully crafted, the letters come from respondents as varied as high school ESL students, lawyers, cattle ranchers, and helicopter pilots. An English teacher writes a long story about how comic books led him to love classic texts, and a second grader announces, "I like books because I can read them." One correspondent extols the virtues of keeping a journal; a prisoner tells how he became a poet; a judge argues the link between reading and reasoning; and a teacher sends a copy of a letter that Roald Dahl wrote to her first-graders. People who read will enjoy these letters, and teachers will like sharing them with their students. The book ends with three appendixes. In the first, Burke presents forty-three booklists for children, teenagers, and adults. He includes lists of books to read aloud, books for teenage girls, books about love, and books about reading. Some readers might find the author's inclusion of his own book to be too self-aggrandizing, but people who like booklists will appreciate this appendix. The other appendixes are an annotated list of literacy resources and a short article by Carol Jago, high school English teacher and director of the California Reading and Literature Project at UCLA, about ways to get children to read. 1999, Heinemann, 116p, Photos,Appendix, pb. Ages adult. Reviewer: Rebecca Barnhouse VOYA, February 2001 (Vol. 23, No.6)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780325001340
  • Publisher: Heinemann
  • Publication date: 9/8/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 1,003,456
  • Age range: 5 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.29 (d)

Meet the Author

Jim Burke is the author of numerous bestselling Heinemann titles, including the English Teacher's Companion, Fourth Edition and What's the Big Idea? The question he's always tried to answer is "How can we teach our students better?" He seeks these answers daily through his work in his own classroom at Burlingame High School in California where he still teaches after twenty years. Facing the same constraints and challenges as every other teacher, Jim shares his creative solutions in bestselling professional titles with Heinemann such as Reading Reminders and Writing Reminders as well as through Heinemann Professional Development Services. As part of his commitment to helping teachers and learning how to use the latest technologies, he founded the English Companion Ning, described by Education Week as "the world's largest English department" and winner of several Edublog Awards for Best Social Network for Education. In addition to the EC Ning, Jim offers a steady stream of recommended resources through his website (www.englishcompanion.com) and Twitter (@englishcomp) where he is ranked in the top 100 educators to follow at the top within the online English teacher community. Jim serves on several national commissions related to adolescent literacy and standards, including the Advanced Placement English Literature and Language Course and Exam Review Commission with the College Board and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) where he serves on the Content Technical Working Group, which advises PARCC on the national assessments being developed for the Common Core State Standards. In addition, he is a senior author on the Holt McDougal Harcourt Literature series. Jim has received numerous awards, including the NCTE Intellectual Freedom Award, the NCTE Conference on English Leadership Award, and the California Reading Association Hall of Fame Award. He served on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Committee on Adolescence and Young Adulthood English Language Arts Standards. Through his work in the class and on such commissions, Jim Burke seeks not only to clarify but reimagine what English should be, honoring the past even as he works with others to create the future of the discipline he loves so much. Visit his website (www.englishcompanion.com) for more information.
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Table of Contents

Introduction

Letters and Quotations

Appendix A : What We Read: The I Hear America Reading List of Lists

Appendix B : A Brief Directory of Useful Literacy Resources

Appendix C : "Hooked on Fish," by Carol Jago

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