BOOKS

Cover of This is a Great Book by Larry Swartz and Shelley Staff Peterson
This is a Great Book!
Larry Swartz and Shelley Stagg Peterson. Pembroke Publishers, 2015. 136 Pages, 24.95
*****
Reviewed by Beth Hawley

How important are novels in the classroom? How do we engage young readers and encourage a love of reading? How do we hold students accountable for their reading without making reading a “chore”? These are some of the questions that Swartz and Peterson attempt to address in this book. By first discussing the importance of novels in the classroom, they encourage the reader to consider the amount and type of reading done in the literacy program. Swartz and Peterson then go on to explore many helpful topics to consider if you are thinking about implementing or revising novel studies in your classroom.

This book is an excellent resource for teachers of junior students to high school English teachers. Many aspects of novel study are discussed, such as possible groupings, choosing the right book and incorporating different themes into your novel study. Also examined are the various types of novel study: whole class, small group, teacher read-aloud, or independent reading. The question of how much teacher involvement is necessary is also explored.

The authors provide an extensive list of possible novels to use in your classroom. I mean extensive! And not just a list of novels, but novels divided into age categories, thematic categories, and genres! This will be a very helpful resource to any teacher looking for novels to use. I appreciated that the authors acknowledge the classic novels that are tried and true, but also encourage teachers to consider some of the many excellent novels that have been written in more recent years.

As if that wasn’t enough, the authors have provided many activities that students can use to respond to novels, whether independently or in small groups. These activities are varied in nature and consider the use of strategies to support comprehension. They range from discussion in literature circles to journaling, responding through art and responding through media and technology. All activities are clearly outlined so they can be easily implemented in classrooms. I highly recommend this book for any teacher considering the role of reading in their classroom.

Beth Hawley is a member of the Peel Teacher Local.

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