Cover of Reading with Meaning
Reading With Meaning: Teaching Comprehension in the Primary Grades (2nd edition)
By Debbie Miller, Stenhouse Publishers, 2013. 225 pages. $31.95 (hardcover)
Reviewed by Tara Arnold

I have been a Primary teacher now for 10 years. About halfway into my teaching career, I was given a copy of Debbie Miller’s first edition of Reading with Meaning. Once I started to read it, I couldn’t put it down. Her book was so perfect for Primary teachers relatively new to the profession, like me. Miller chronicled a year in her own classroom, where she used strategy instruction, and intentional teaching and learning to fully engage her grade 1 students, while helping them become independent readers and writers. Now, 10 years later, she has created a second edition that does not disappoint. This time around, Miller has included Planning Documents for a school year on a month-by-month basis, some new titles throughout (though she kept many of her favourites from the first edition), and an appendix that includes a variety of fiction and non-fiction titles.

What I really liked about this book was the culminating tasks Miller’s class engaged in at the end of each month to help students learn the purpose of their focus and to help Debbie answer her personal guiding question: “What do I want students to walk away with at the end of this year and remember 10 years from now and beyond?” These activities include:

  • Reading Workshop for families on back-to-school night
  • How Do We Know What We Know? Exhibition with students from another grade
  • Coffeehouse Poetry Day to present student-written poetry to families
  • Book Club Jamboree with local adult book clubs in the area
  • Exploring and Learning about Fiction and Non-Fiction
  • Hosting a Book Lovers Convention to help welcome kindergarteners into the grade 1 reading club with a list of books and recommendations

All of the above can easily be adapted to what works in your own classrooms.

If you have never read Debbie Miller’s first edition, then the second edition is an absolute must- have in your repertoire of professional books. I own both editions, and I would have liked to see some new classroom photographs. I also would have liked to read about some new student success stories and see new student work samples.

Tara Arnold is currently on leave from the Kawartha Pine Ridge Teacher Local.


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