Harvard Educational Review
  1. Guided Reading

    Good First Teaching for All Children

    By Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell

    Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1996. 406 pp. $32.50 (paper).

    Literacy instruction has undergone dramatic changes over the past fifteen years. Spurred by current research in the teaching of writing, holistic learning, and reading recovery, elementary school educators are reexamining and revising long--held teaching practices. With the movement from basal readers to real literature, teachers have been redefining their role in reading instruction.

    Guided Reading: Good First Teaching for All Children is a key book for teachers who have been trying to make sense of how, when, and where instruction happens in reading, and why it is essential. An often--quoted misconception regarding literature--based reading instruction is that if children are surrounded with good books, they will learn to read. Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell explain that surrounding children with the right materials is not enough, that we must also provide "good first teaching" in order to help children develop strategies necessary to become independent readers. In this book they illustrate how guided reading - "showing children how to read and supporting them as they read - is the heart of a balanced literacy program" (p. 1).

    The first half of the book focuses on what guided reading is, how it fits within the context of a balanced literacy program, and what the organization and management of such teaching and learning might look like. Based on their own years of research in early literacy, Fountas and Pinnell help teachers think about what they need to do to create a classroom environment that supports beginning readers. In addition to being rich in practical application, each of these chapters is also firmly grounded in theory.

    The second half of the book is a compilation of reproducible appendices to help teachers with the nitty--gritty of implementing guided reading in the context of a larger literacy program.

    This is an important book for teachers, administrators, prospective teachers, college professors, or anyone seeking to provide quality teaching to children in their first years of schooling.

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    Book Notes

    We Can't Eat Prestige
    By John Hoerr

    The Seed Is Mine
    By Charles van Onselen

    The Essential Piaget
    Edited by Howard E. Gruber and J. Jacques Vonëche

    Journey With Children
    By Frances P. Lothrop Hawkins

    Guided Reading
    By Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell

    One Child, Two Languages
    By Patton O. Tabors

    Taking Note
    By Brenda Miller Power