Content Area Literacy

July 15, 2019

Teacher question: What is the most effective way to teach summarizing to our most struggling readers? How can we teach them how to summarize both literary and informational texts?

Shanahan's response:

Good choice. Of all of the literacy activities that you could have focused on, summarizing is the most powerful for elementary students....

July 15, 2019

This month, in celebration of the anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, we’re launching some out-of-this world reading fun that starts at Start with a Book with a new Space Rangers resource to help your young learners blast...

July 3, 2019

While books can transport you through space and time, sometimes you just have to get behind the wheel and go! Always a great bonding experience, the summer family road trip can also be a learning adventure full of meaningful and authentic opportunities for kids to read, write, listen, and talk.

June 12, 2019

Reading Rockets resources at Start with a Book provide an abundance of book recommendations and great ideas for pairing fiction and nonfiction to engage kids and help them make connections between what they read and their own lives.

January 22, 2019

Teacher question: The National Assessment of Educational Progress says that only 37% of 4th graders are reaching reading proficiency. Why is it so low?

Shanahan's response

Why do so few American kids read well?

There seems to be plenty of blame to go around. Parents? Society? Too much screen time? Poverty? Immigration? You and me...

November 26, 2018

Teacher question: Last week, I read your blog about how to teach theme to students by having them track character changes across a story and determine what lesson the character learns to determine the overall theme. Can you offer advice on determining the main idea of an informational text? Specifically, for third grade, students must determine the main idea, recount the...

October 2, 2018

I admit it. I did not enjoy science and math very much when I was a kid. But new and fresh approaches in books for young readers (and I, of course, am still a young reader at heart) are sure to not only engage but inspire a new generation.  Many new books are sure add to an appreciation of the humanities.

...

September 17, 2018

Teacher question: I don’t get the reason for trying to make students read “like historians” or read “like scientists.” Many of my students aren’t likely to even go to college and even if they did they probably won’t be historians or scientists. I understand why it makes sense to teach students how to study a history or a science textbook so they can pass the tests on those...

September 17, 2018

Anna Faulkner acquired a passion for working with students in 2006 as a teacher at Bingham Academy, an international school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She moved back to the U.S. to earn her Masters of Education in International Education Policy and graduated in May of 2012.

Since then she has been working with children and thinking about how to make education more meaningful,...

July 27, 2018

Becky Koons is a Senior Resident Services Manager with AHC Inc. at the Woodbury Park Community Center in Arlington, Virginia. AHC’s Summer Camp program is designed to prevent learning loss — a particular challenge for low-income students — through both educational and enrichment experiences.

Becky believes there is not much better than sitting on the beach with her toes in the sand...

July 20, 2018

How can we teach children about one of our most important natural resources? Gaynelle Diaz combines lots of reading with art, hands-on activities, and field trips to jumpstart a summer full of learning about water and our local rivers.

Gaynelle is the Center Coordinator at the Ruby Tucker Family Center, for the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority. As a young child, she...

July 19, 2018

Back in the 1930s, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney always seemed to be putting on a show. They were going to be sent to a farm to work for the summer in Babes in Arms, but they wanted to go to Broadway instead — and they did!

I love that whole idea of Judy and Mickey with their teenage backs to the wall,...

June 28, 2018

Teacher question:

My question is about disciplinary literacy. Should we be guiding teachers to integrate social studies or science and ELA or having our ELA teachers teaching disciplinary literacy for these subjects? Our curriculum focuses on overarching concepts and essential questions.

Shanahan's response:

You raise two...

March 6, 2018

Teacher question:

Can you explain the difference between central idea, main idea, and theme? There appears to be a lot of confusions with these terms. 

Shanahan’s response:

You’re correct. There is much confusion and disparity in use of the terms central idea, main idea, and theme. And please add topic...

February 1, 2018

Question:

I came across your article Informational Text: Or How Thin Can You Slice the Salami and wanted to reach out to you. I'm analytical and I work with other analytical thinkers. But I am also surrounded by reading specialists, literacy coaches, etc. who think differently. When I visit schools, I observe students who are analytical. They're...

December 19, 2017

This may be the season for celebrations, family travel, and out-of-town guests, but it is also a great time of year to engage kids in all kinds of joyful and meaningful learning experiences. To help make the most of winter break, Reading Rockets’ sister project, Start with a Book provides parents and caring adults with ideas and...

November 22, 2017

It’s the season when we think about giving thanks. Occasionally, we take things for which we should be grateful for granted. Sometimes a fresh look can help us gain greater appreciation.

That’s just what happened when I read a recent book by Khizr Khan entitled This Is Our Constitution (Knopf).  It’s an...

November 16, 2017

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) began testing fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-graders in 1970 to find out how well American kids could read. NAEP was to evaluate national reading performance twice a decade. The idea wasn’t to provide an estimate of how well each child could read, but simply to index the level of American literacy. In fact, back then NAEP wasn’t even...

August 25, 2017

Kids benefit when their parents are active members of their community. When they feel their families are a part of the community, kids feel safer, valued, and more confident which opens up great opportunities for learning and exploration.

Ellie Canter, Managing Director at Turning the Page, shares how real-life experiences...

August 21, 2017

Story can do a lot to inspire kids to engage with the natural world. What can you do to get kids outside? Kit Ballenger has some ideas that all start with a book!

Kit is a youth services librarian at An Open Book Foundation and a regular volunteer at the Library of Congress Young Readers Center. An avid hiker and...

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"The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who'll get me a book I [haven't] read." — Abraham Lincoln