“Foundational skills, such as decoding, gaining phonemic awareness, and learning academic vocabulary, are crucial to the child’s reading process, but they must be taught within a purposeful context. Children need to be taught why it’s important to read — and have clear reasons to read — if they’re going to learn how to read well. It is that purposeful context that has been missing in many of our classrooms and out-of-school programs, and so we address it head-on in this book.” –Pam Allyn and Ernest Morrell
In their new book, Every Child a Super Reader: 7 Strengths to Open a World of Possible, literacy expert and LitWorld founder Pam Allyn and Columbia University English professor, Ernest Morrell, outline a strengths-based approach to reading. Their framework identifies seven strengths of readers to be built upon — in and out of the classroom.
Every Child a Super Reader begins with an overview of and socio-emotional research underlying the 7 strengths of the framework then provides an in-depth look at each strength: “why each strength matters, what it looks like in practice, how to use a favorite children’s book to deepen children’s understanding of the strength, and how to help families support the strength at home” (41). Suggestions follow of “best practice” instructional methods for independent, peer, and whole group reading as well as management techniques and how to implement them in educational settings. Finally, there are assessment and planning tools and an appendix of reading suggestions.
Every Child a Super Reader is a resource for educators and families.
“Whether you’re a classroom teacher, out-of-school educator, reading specialist, literacy coach, librarian, or school administrator, this book gives you the information and inspiration you need to turn all children into super readers” (9).
WHAT ARE THE 7 STRENGTHS?
- belonging – a sense of value in a community
- curiosity – a “stance of inquiry” or ability to ask questions, anticipate problems and solutions
- friendship – connection
- kindness – compassion toward others, which the authors describe as “underrated…but the heartbeat of our civil society and it is what we remember most in both the challenging and joyous times of our lives” (34).
- confidence – independent thinking and an awareness of tools for success
- courage – centered on doing what is right
- hope – optimistic, believe in good things to come
One of the major strengths of the authors’ work is that they do not discount the importance of reading strategies and literacy skill building. Rather, as the quote at the beginning of this article points out, they stress creating an environment of belonging so that learning can occur. The 7 strengths framework helps educators and caregivers foster a community and purposeful context that cultivates learning and helps kids develop their identities as readers.
The book is more than idealized theory; it’s a research-based, practical guide with concrete examples for implementation. Especially helpful are the management techniques and assessment tools — including surveys and rubrics — and tools for planning and scheduling. There are ideas on identity building, reading celebrations, and building and structuring the classroom library with a variety of texts. The authors provide a year long reading plan with a focus/goal, school wide goal, action plan, and family plan for each month.
Last but not least is the extensive list of great books, organized by strength and broken down further by age/reading level. I’d buy the book just for this amazing collection of suggested literature, inspired by the authors’ experiences and suggestions from respected colleagues.
ALL ABOUT THAT COMMUNITY
“Literature has the power to give wings to our dreams, introducing us to possibilities for the future, reinterpretations of the past, and alternates to the present” (36).
In an interview on the Scholastic Reads podcast, Ernest shares the importance for educators and parents to be involved in communities and connected to other readers and to quality literature. He suggests joining online communities or forums with the goal of finding, sharing, and conversing about good texts. One place to do this is on Instagram: there are so many great feeds — created by teachers, librarians, and/or avid book readers — where the joy of reading is evident and celebrated. A few favorites include: Read to Me, Here Wee Read, and Sunlit Pages, and Every Day Reading. You can also check out the Live.Read.Write. feed or search the hashtag #livereadwritebooks. I’d love to connect with you over there — in the name of children’s books!
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY
**GIVEAWAY CLOSED: congrats to the winner, Melissa, Instagram entrant**
Scholastic has provided one copy of Every Child a Super Reader for a Live.Read.Write. reader. There are two ways to enter:
1) Subscribe to the newsletter (if not already a subscriber) then leave a comment on this post indicating which of the 7 strengths most interests you or which strength you’d most like to help strengthen in the reader(s) in your classroom, home, literacy program, etc.
2) On Instagram: follow @live_read_write and leave a comment on this post about the book indicating which of the 7 strengths most interests you or which strength you’d most like to help strengthen in the reader(s) in your classroom, home, literacy program, etc. and tag 2 friends.
Giveaway is open to U.S. residents. Winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday, February 24th, which is World Read Aloud Day.
Watch Pam and Ernest discuss focusing on students’ strengths
You can also listen to Pam and Ernest discuss the book on Scholastic Reads, a podcast about children’s books and the joy & power of reading, here.
Disclaimer: Scholastic provided me this book for free so I could review it. In addition, this post contains affiliate links. Live.Read.Write. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.}