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Less Is More is full of powerful ideas for teaching with short, provocative text. This book broadens and extends our available teaching tools and materials, and can help engage all students. It is a valuable resource for language arts teachers.
Language arts teachers want all of their students to love literature and embrace the novels they assign. The classroom reality is that many students are not ready or motivated to immerse themselves in an entire novel. In order to reach and engage all students, teachers need to look beyond novels alone and embrace a richer variety of literature.
In Less Is More Kimberly Hill Campbell draws on research as well as her own classroom experiences to show how short texts engage a wide range of middle and high school students. She shares her discovery of the power of short texts to support her students' skills as readers, writers, and students of literature.
Kimberly shows how short texts can be integrated into the curriculum, without sacrificing required novels. Chapters examine different genres of short text, such as short stories, essays, memoir, and graphic novels. Each chapter provides reading, writing, and response strategies as well as a broad selection of short text resources that have proven effective with a wide range of students.
Campbell's book makes a very good case for teaching with short texts. Through chapters on short stories, essays, memoirs, poetry, picture books, and graphic novels, she shows how all aspects of literature can be taught using a variety of short pieces. She suggests structures for the classroom and strategies for eliciting both written and oral responses to these texts. She ties reading short texts to ways of looking at student writing in similar genres. The first two chapters look at the pedagogy, including standards, objectives, and assessment. She mentions literature learning logs, dialogue journals, essays, and small and large group discussion techniques with notes on where to find more information. Subsequent chapters include a rationale for using the particular type of short text, scenarios from Campbell's classroom, and themed sections with specific examples of text to use and activities that work. Each chapter includes an extensive bibliography of works cited. The works span a wide range of difficulty and interest levels. In her memoir section, she lists essays or excerpts from the works of Chris Crutcher, Annie Dillard, Barbara Kingsolver, Natalie Goldberg, Russell Baker, Stephen King, Georgia Heard, and Walter Dean Myers. The essay section covers how-to articles as well as work on reading, writing, politics, issues, nature, sports, family, and advice. This book will be valuable for beginning and veteran teachers because of the lists of short texts. The lists are well organized in charts that include the text's source and highlight the skill being discussed. Reviewer: Cindy Faughnan
April 2008 (Vol. 31, No. 1)