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Prentice Hall
Literacy for the 21st Century / Edition 3

Literacy for the 21st Century / Edition 3

by Gail TompkinsGail Tompkins


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Based on four contemporary theories of literacy learning—constructivist, sociolinguistic, interactive, and reader response—this best-selling text exposes readers to sound methodology infused with authentic examples of best practice. Utilizing highly readable text and many samples of student work, the author demonstrates how to implement a balanced literacy program by engaging students with literature, critical skills, and strategies.

Features of the Multimedia Edition include:

  • New English Language Learners teaching notes provide meaningful adaptations for reading and writing strategies, pinpointing way. teachers can help second language learners who are learning to read or who struggle with English literacy.
  • Newly expanded coverage of assessment includes specific examples of Assessment Tools, as well as Assessment Resources, a feature providing website and journal references.
  • Two free CD-ROMs of real classroom footage, fully integrated into the text with margin notes and a color insert, give users an intimate look at balancing reading instruction in both primary end middle grades.
  • The Compendium of Instructional Procedures presents step-by-step instructions for 38 popular teaching practices.
  • How Effective Teachers . . . lists it the end of each chapter describe effective teaching practices.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780130985903
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Publication date: 02/28/2002
Edition description: Older Edition
Pages: 560
Product dimensions: 7.80(w) x 10.20(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents


1. Becoming an Effective Teacher of Reading.
2. Teaching the Reading and Writing Processes.
3. Assessing Students' Literacy Development.


4. Working with Emergent Readers and Writers.
5. Breaking the Alphabetic Code.
6. Developing Fluent Readers and Writers.


7. Learning about the Meanings of Words.
8. Facilitating Students' Comprehension.
9. Becoming Familiar with the Structure of Text.


10. Literature Focus Units.
11. Literature Circles.
12. Reading and Writing Workshop.
13. Basal Reading Textbooks.
14. Reading and Writing in the Content Areas.


Index of Authors and Titles.
Subject Index.



Helping children become literate is one of the greatest challenges facing teachers today. As some teachers and researchers tout and defend one approach after another, parents are frightened that the new instructional methods aren't getting the job done. The media fuels the controversy with reports lamenting failing test scores and criticism that many schools are not producing literate citizens who can function competently.

I have written this textbook to blaze a pathway toward implementing a thoughtful, balanced approach to teaching reading and writing, a pathway that incorporates the most effective teaching approaches and strategies. Thus, the third edition of Literacy for the 21st Century builds on the research-based approaches to literacy instruction outlined in the previous editions of this book. It also models authentic literacy instruction in successful classrooms and explains how to balance the comprehensive way strategies and instruction skills support literacy development.


  • This comprehensive text presents several sound approaches to literacy instruction and guides teachers toward best practice in teaching skills as well as strategies.
  • It functions equally well as a core text for traditional introduction to reading methods courses and for newer literacy "block" courses.
  • The eight principles of effective reading instruction outlined in chapter 1 provide a strong, easily understood foundation for the entire book.
  • Thetext is written with preservice teachers in mind; however, teachers pressed into service in accelerated credential programs will find the book invaluable as a resource to get up and running quickly.
  • The easily accessible Compendium of Instructional Procedures at the back of the book offers 38 clearly articulated instructional methods, an invaluable resource and quick reference.
  • The text includes many lively descriptions and clear examples illustrating how real teachers teach reading and writing effectively, through vignettes opening each chapter, colorful inserts that present visual reinforcement of each major approach to teaching literacy, and two CD-ROMs containing classroom footage inviting users into classrooms and into teacher decision making.


My goal in this text is to show beginning teachers how to teach reading and writing effectively, how to create a classroom climate where literacy flourishes, and how to empower the diverse array of students in today's classrooms to function competently as literate adults in the twenty-first century. To that end, I have based the text on four contemporary theories of literacy learning: constructivist, interactive, sociolinguistic, and reader response theories.

Readers will learn how to implement a reading program with skills and strategies taught in context using a whole-part-whole organizational approach. The approach I take can, I believe, best be described as balanced and comprehensive. You will learn how to teach vital skills and useful strategies within the context of authentic reading and writing experiences. I have carefully selected the principles, skills, strategies, and examples of literature that will empower the beginning teacher to get up to speed quickly. In creating this textbook, I used knowledge I gleaned from a host of teachers who have been students in my beginning reading course over the years, and I also sifted through the array of practices and procedures proven effective in today's classrooms and with today's diverse student populations. Although there are many other useful ideas and strategies that can accomplish the goal of producing literate students, I have deliberately and painstakingly chosen research-based, classroom-tested ideas—the best of the best—as the focus of this textbook.

It is widely recognized that today's teachers need as many approaches and strategies in their repertoire as possible. However, I have carefully culled out a critical path for beginning teachers to follow. Why? Because it is important for beginning teachers of reading and writing to learn a few things well at the onset so that they are prepared to hit the ground running as they confidently implement effective methods. If you know how to be effective from the first day, you will have the confidence necessary to add to your teaching "bag of tricks" as your experience guides you.


This book is organized into five sections. The three chapters in the first section address the question "What is a balanced approach to literacy instruction?" Chapter 1 sets out eight basic instructional principles on which to build balanced literacy instruction. These eight principles describe how effective teachers teach reading and writing. Chapter 2 explains the reading and writing processes that teachers use to teach reading and writing, whether the teachers are teaching literature focus units, literature circles, reading and writing workshop, or content-area units. Chapter 3 describes traditional as well as authentic assessment procedures.

Part II examines the question "How do children learn to read and write?" Chapter 4 is devoted to the special needs of emergent readers and writers (kindergartners and first graders). The basics of the alphabetic principle—phonemic awareness, phonics, and spelling—are explained in chapter 5. Chapter 6 explains word recognition and word identification and how students become fluent readers. Answering the question "How do readers and writers construct meaning?" is the focus of chapters 7 through 9. Chapter 7 is devoted to vocabulary and how students refine their understanding of the meanings for words. Chapter 8 focuses on comprehension—the five comprehension processes, the metacognitive strategies that capable readers use, and comprehension activities during each stage of the reading process. Chapter 9 presents information about the structure of stories, informational books, and poetry. Students use their knowledge of the structure of texts in comprehending what they read.

The five chapters in Part IV answer the question "How do teachers organize literacy instruction?" Chapters on literature focus units, literature circles, reading and writing workshop, basal reading textbooks, and content-area units show teachers how to set up their instructional programs based on the reading and writing processes described in chapter 2.

In Part V, for your ready reference, the Compendium of Instructional Procedures provides a comprehensive review of 38 instructional procedures used in literature-based reading classrooms with step-by-step directions and student samples. The procedures are highlighted with a c when they are mentioned in the text to cue readers to consult the Compendium for more detailed information.


These special features increase the effectiveness of the text and address the most current resources in the field of literacy.

Real Teachers

My text has always been grounded in real classroom teaching and learning. I want readers to feel as at home in their own classrooms as possible, so I always provide as many examples from real classrooms as I can.

  • Starting with chapter 2, 1 begin each chapter with a vignette in which you will see how a real teacher teaches the topic addressed in the chapter. These vignettes are rich and detailed, with photos, dialogue, student writing samples, and illustrations. Readers will be drawn into the story of literacy instruction in a real classroom as they build background and activate prior knowledge about the chapter's topic. Throughout the chapter, I refer readers to the vignette so that they can apply the concepts they are reading about and make connections to the world of practice.
  • Four full-color inserts featuring real classroom teachers show readers what teaching reading and writing looks like in real classrooms.
  • The CD-ROMs, the CD .margin notes, and the CD insert all provide concrete illustrations of real classroom teaching and connections from chapter content to teaching.


Technology is addressed and utilized in many ways in this edition of my text.

NEW: CD-ROMs. Two free CDs come with this edition. These CDs, Primary Grades Literacy: A K-3 Integrated Unit on Insects and Literature Circles: Responding to Literature in an 8th Grade Classroom, both contain footage of master teachers in their reading and writing classrooms. You will have the opportunity to observe the classroom footage, hear from the teachers and students involved, listen to my feedback, and consider the research behind the teachers' decisions.

  • Margin notes throughout the text link specific chapter content with that of the CDs.
  • A full-color insert in chapter 12 walks you through how to use these CDs to the fullest.

Technology Links. Readers will learn about innovative uses of technology in teaching reading and writing through the Technology Links. Among the topics I present in these special features are screen reading using captioned text on television to develop reading fluency, electronic dialoguing to write back and forth to a reading buddy to respond to literature, videotape portfolios to document student learning, and interactive electronic books on CD-ROM to teach high-frequency words and phonics skills.

NEW English Language Learners

Throughout the text are ESL (English as a Second Language) margin notes specifying which strategies and methods are most appropriate for ESL students, which are least effective, and how to adapt teaching to benefit all students.

NEW Minilessons

This new feature presents clear information on how to teach skills and strategies within the reading and writing classroom.

NEW Assessment

This edition includes much more on assessment tools, presented in

  • Assessment Resources features which include ideas for alternative assessment
    • Assessment Tools figures, which provide samples of tools used in 609 ¿ classrooms to assess student understanding.

Principles of Effective Reading Instruction

I set out a list of eight principles of effective reading instruction in chapter 1, and these principles provide the foundation for the entire textbook. Near the end of each chapter (except chapter 1), the Review section includes a feature in which I list effective instructional practices related to the chapter topic. Instructors and students alike will find these features interesting and helpful.

Chapter on the Reading and Writing Processes

In chapter 2 I describe the reading and writing processes. These two processes provide the foundation for the chapters on how to organize the instructional programs, literature focus units (chapter 10), literature circles (chapter 11), reading and writing workshop (chapter 12), basal reading textbooks (chapter 13), and thematic units (chapter 14).

Chapter on Breaking the Code

Chapter 5 focuses on the phonological system: phonemic awareness, phonics, and spelling. Phonics is a controversial topic in reading, and the position I take in this chapter is that phonics and related topics are part of a balanced literacy program and are best taught in the context of real literature using a whole-part-whole approach.

Chapter on Fluency

In chapter 6 I explain that students in the primary grades need to develop strong word recognition skills so that they can automatically read hundreds and hundreds of words in order to become fluent readers. That is, they can read quickly and with expression by the time they are third graders. Students also need to develop word identification tools, including phonemic and morphological analysis, so that they can decode unfamiliar words as they are reading.

Chapter on Comprehension

Chapter 8 delves into five comprehension processes and how teachers teach and assess each process. I set out 12 strategies that readers and writers use and explain the difference between strategies and skills. To emphasize the importance of helping children become strategic readers, I compare more capable readers with less capable readers and writers and conclude that more capable readers have both more skills and more strategies, but what really separates the two groups is that more capable readers are more strategic. For still more on comprehension, check out the video free to adopters of this text in which 1 present my analysis of field-tested ideas to improve Students' comprehension.

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