Children's Literature - Enid PortnoyPart of the "Sharpen Your Writing Skills" series, the focus in this book is on effective preparation and presentation of speech and debate material. Debate is an organized type of persuasive speaking which the authors introduce to Middle School readers and other older students. The book's suggested purpose is to encourage students to enter into a speaking assignment with enthusiasm, interest and a clear purpose to point out to a specific audience. In an attempt to cover information it might have been better to more narrowly confine the text to debate, rather than try to include general speech suggestions as well. More examples of debate topics worded as questions could show development of the organization of each side of a debate topic question. It is easier to think of a debate question which would have been easier for students to follow. Although there are a few highlighted lists of important words explained, and checkpoints along the chapters, but bulleted points or numbered items may be more effective for students to follow along in composing sequential steps. Asking young debaters to evaluate the strength and weakness of each argument stated stimulates their organizational and debating skills. It is also an excellent technique to acquire. Displaying a finished debate outline would be a good addition to this text. There is so much information presented that it may be difficult for beginning debaters to separate what is necessary to consider for debate versus what is important for a more general speech topic. Young students often find delivery much more frightening a prospect than the writing of the material to be presented. Perhaps more division in the text between debate and general speech might help clarify this large amount of information. A Table of Contents, Glossary, and Further Reading and Internet sources are provided. Roy and Haney might wish to add an excellent complete debate outline, and complete speech text as a guide to what a student's final form should be. Under the section "You're Almost There" would be an excellent place to insert a specific topic with key points underlined or in bold letters, with an actual introduction written out and an actual conclusion. The sixty four pages contain interesting information but students may likely feel overwhelmed without additional specific guides to examine and use as models. Limit debate information to one book and general speech information in a different book. Although the book cover proclaims "It's Easy!" this reviewer is not convinced that students will agree.
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