A Reason to Read

A Reason to Read Linking Literacy and the Arts

Eileen Landay and Kurt Wootton, foreword by Shirley Brice Heath
Pub. Date: September 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-462-9
paper, 264 Pages
Pub. Date: September 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-460-5
Price: $33.00

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A Reason to Read is the culminating work of the ArtsLiteracy Project, an ambitious and wide-ranging collaborative that aims to promote literacy through rich and sustained instruction in the arts.


This is both a profound and wonderfully practical book. In clear and helpful chapters, the authors show how teachers can use multiple art forms to help students probe and comprehend classic literary texts and create personally meaningful works of their own. The ‘For the Classroom’ sections at the end of each chapter are superb. — Richard J. Deasy, former director, Arts Education Partnership

This shining book reminds us that the ‘reason to read’—truly, the desire to learn anything well—springs from the same ineffable emotions summoned by the arts. Those who seek the key to academic motivation and mastery can do no better than to study the secrets Landay and Wootton unlock here with simplicity, practicality, and wisdom. — Kathleen Cushman, author, Fires in the Mind

For over a decade, Landay, Wootton, and their many colleagues at the ArtsLiteracy Project have been exploring the rich possibilities at the intersection of arts and literacy development for deep learning and teaching. It has been visionary work, and this book provides vivid pictures of how to bring those possibilities into any classroom. — Steve Seidel, faculty director, Arts in Education Program, Harvard Graduate School of Education

A Reason to Read makes a major contribution to the field of education through the arts thanks to the authors’ ability to create a theory of practice and to offer a concrete and replicable framework for educators who want to pursue this route. — Ofra Arieli Backenroth, Teachers College Record

Every once in awhile we need to read a book that invigorates our creativity. Landay and Wootton's book is for professional development. It will give those who work with children of all ages some very important and useful tools to make learning fun. — Louise, The Nonfiction Detectives

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About the Authors

Eileen Landay was the Clinical Professor of English Education at Brown University, director of Brown’s MAT Program in English Education, and faculty director of Brown Summer High School from 1993 to 2006. She is the cofounder and codirector of the ArtsLiteracy Project, which in 2005 received the President’s Commission on the Arts and Humanities “Coming Up Taller” Award. She holds an appointment as adjunct senior lecturer at Brown, where she continues to teach. She also teaches and consults regionally and nationally on adolescent literacy development, arts integration, and English education.

Before coming to Brown, Landay was a teacher of secondary and elementary English, the English Language Arts consultant for the Maine Department of Education, chief reader for the Maine Educational Assessment, and a poet in the state’s schools, funded through the Maine Arts Commission. She edited Maine Speaks: An Anthology of Maine Literature (Maine Writers & Pubs Alliance, 1996) and is the author of children’s fiction, several books on teaching poetry, and numerous articles and book chapters, including the articles “Across the Doorsill: Extending Learning with Students in Mind and Body,” in Voices in Urban Education (2007) and “Narrative Interviews: An Approach to Studying Teaching and Learning in English Classrooms,” in High School Journal (February/March 2001). She holds an MA from the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College and an EdD from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Kurt Wootton is the cofounder and codirector of the ArtsLiteracy Project in the Education Department at Brown University. His work in urban schools with diverse populations has led him to work in different countries in Latin America, particularly Brazil and Mexico. He is also the codirector of Habla: The Center for Language and Culture in Mérida, Mexico, a combination language school, education center, and community-based arts organization. With a specialty in creative literacy pedagogies, teacher professional development, and organizational change, Wootton works with teachers and administrators to help design schools and organizations that are creative, meaningful, and welcoming places.

Previously he worked as an urban school reform consultant for the Providence School District and has led literacy initiatives for the Boston Public Schools, the St. Paul Public Schools, the Central Falls School District, and Plan Estratégico de Mérida, Mexico. Wootton has been called on to offer keynote speeches and workshops in a variety of settings, including Harvard University, Middlebury College, SmART Schools, Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education, Florida Atlantic University, the University of Maryland, Senac University in Sao Paulo, the Arts Education Partnership, as well as at numerous conferences.

He writes about education on his own blog, The Education Labyrinth, as well as for the Huffington Post. His publications include “Thinking Differently: The Arts and School Reform,” College Board (2010); “A Constant Search: Arts-Integration in Cross-Cultural Environments,” Teaching Artist Journal (July 2008); and, with Eileen Landay, Mary Beth Meehan, A. Leonard Newman, and Donald W. King, “Postcards from America: Linking Classrooms and Community in an ESL class,” English Journal (2005). He divides his time between Mexico and the United States.