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Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading…
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Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It

by Kelly Gallagher

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Books written about research in education tend to follow the pattern of describing a major issue that everyone is already talking about, presenting some statistics that make the problem seem worse, and then describing ways that teachers can, in the classroom, deal with said problem. Gallagher does not stray from this pattern in even the slightest way.

I like that he presents clear classroom practices that promise to increase students' frequency and quality of independent reading. I also like that these methods are all things that used to be more common in public schools and that he explains why we have gotten away from them and why we need to go back to them. I've been talking to teachers in my school about the research Gallagher presents, and will be trying many of his suggestions in the coming school year.

Unfortunately the world needs more than that.

I do not like that this book is written for an audience of only teachers. If we believe that there are problems in education in America that we can effectively address, we have to also recognize that teachers are no longer the decision makers in education. We failed to hold on to that power decades ago. Gallagher briefly describes some ways of talking administrators into supporting more pro-reading policies on a classroom level, but no place does he adress those administrators directly. We do not need more books written to help teachers manage the shitty reality of our profession. We need books written to empower teachers to improve the state of education outside of the confines of our classrooms and help policy makers (who are not teachers and do not read education research) and politicians understand what they are doing that is hurting the learning of our children in this country. Your governor, your local legislature, and probably even your school board does not understand why the policies that they mandate do nothing to improve anything, and this book will not help them in any way. ( )
  danconsiglio | Jun 27, 2012 |
This book provided me with the current research on reading instruction that I had needed to support my own ideas about the "autopsies" kids are forced to perform on books in school, a practice that only gets worse in high school, as students are expected to do more and more with books of a growing complexity and challenge. No wonder they don't read anymore. ( )
  katielder | Feb 26, 2012 |
This book is required reading for the children's literature course at my university, so I decided I'd better read it. English teacher Kelly Gallagher packs a lot into 150 pages (including a thorough index and references).

Subtitled "How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It," the book covers exactly that in five chapters.

Gallagher spends the first part of the book talking about how high-stakes, shallow testing has led to "teaching to the test" and reading programs that dull the desire to read for many students. While there's not a lot teachers can do to end these testing programs, Gallagher does offer some good advice on ways to end "the systematic killing of the love of reading, often exacerbated by the inane, mind-numbing practices found in schools." (p. 2)

Gallagher has taught high school for 23 years, so most of his strategies are aimed at that age group, although many can be adopted for all ages. Some of his recommendations include:

  • providing time for recreational reading in the school day;

  • "augment books with authentic, real-world text" (p. 46), such as assigning an "article of the week" for students to annotate;

  • surround kids with interesting books (I would add to do this in the library as well as in the classroom);

  • assign high-interest books and/or self-selected recreational reading for summer reading;

  • for self-selected books, have students do "one-pager" reflections (templates for a number of these are in Appendix C);

  • avoid over-teaching books with too much chopping up and analysis, or emphasis on the trivial (as the Accelerated Reader program does); but

  • avoid under-teaching books by providing too little framing for complex texts (assigning classics for summer reading is a good example of this).


This was an excellent, thought-provoking book, and I'm glad it's required reading at my university for future teachers.

© Amanda Pape - 2011 ( )
3 vote riofriotex | Aug 16, 2011 |
All teachers should really take time to read and reflect on Gallagher's Readicide. Even if I didn't always agree with the strategies or best approaches to teaching reading, I concur that as teachers, we can (and must) nurture lifelong readers, not school readers. Let's strive to keep SSR, choice (50/50 balance), authentic reading, and be the positive role models that our students need! ( )
1 vote ydenomy | Aug 10, 2011 |
I have mixed feelings about this book. The problem is I completely agree with what the author has to say (with one exception, that I'll address later). I believe Gallagher is preaching to the choir. The people who read this book are already going to be interested in reading and the growing trend of illiteracy amongst our students. They do not need convincing that students need to read more.Once I got past that though, I felt he had some really useful methods of assisting students in understanding difficult texts. I particularly liked his idea of bringing in current articles that address the theme of a book prior to the students reading the book.I also agreed with his statement that the point is not that all the students like a particular book. The point is that they get something from it.And the one exception I mentioned is he believes that the students should not be expected to use the library. He thinks the books should be available primarily in the classroom. As a school librarian, I agree that all classes should have a well stocked library. However, there is no way a classroom can encompass the thousands of books that the library can offer.Perhaps the students won't be bothered to come to the library to check out books on their own . . . so bring them! Give them time in the library to browse and read. That is the point after all.Okay, rant over.
1 vote ElaineBooks | Jul 30, 2011 |
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From the Publisher: Read-i-cide n: The systematic killing of the love of reading, often exacerbated by the inane, mind-numbing practices found in schools. Reading is dying in our schools. Educators are familiar with many of the factors that have contributed to the decline-poverty, second-language issues, and the ever-expanding choices of electronic entertainment. In this provocative new book, Kelly Gallagher suggests, however, that it is time to recognize a new and significant contributor to the death of reading: our schools. In Readicide, Kelly argues that American schools are actively (though unwittingly) furthering the decline of reading. Specifically, he contends that the standard instructional practices used in most schools are killing reading by: valuing the development of test-takers over the development of lifelong readers; mandating breadth over depth in instruction; requiring students to read difficult texts without proper instructional support; insisting that students focus solely on academic texts; drowning great books with sticky notes, double-entry journals, and marginalia; ignoring the importance of developing recreational reading; and losing sight of authentic instruction in the shadow of political pressures. Kelly doesn't settle for only identifying the problems. Readicide provides teachers, literacy coaches, and administrators with specific steps to reverse the downward spiral in reading-steps that will help prevent the loss of another generation of readers.… (more)

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