Thursday, November 15, 2012

Book Review: "You Gotta BE the Book": Teaching Engaged and Reflective Reading with Adolescents by Jeffrey D. Wilhelm

Buy from the Book Depository
Title: "You Gotta BE the Book": Teaching Engaged and Reflective Reading with Adolescents
Author: Jeffrey D. Wilhelm
Publisher: Teachers College Press
Paperback: 208 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
Over a decade ago, Jeffrey Wilhelm's groundbreaking book showed educators how to think of reading as a personally meaningful, pleasurable, and productive pursuit. In the 13 years since its publication, the author has experimented with and further developed all of the techniques he first explored in "You Gotta BE the Book," including visual techniques, drama and action strategies, think-aloud protocols, and symbolic story representation/reading manipulatives. In this expanded edition, Wilhelm adds a new commentary to each chapter in which he reflects on the research and insights he introduced in his now-classic text. 
Through textured case studies of engaged and reluctant readers, the Second Edition of "You Gotta BE the Book" once again addresses enduring issues, such as: What do highly engaged adolescent readers DO as they read? What is it about traditional schooling and reading instruction that deters engaged reading and serves to disenfranchise young readers? What types of interventions can be used in the classroom to help all students, especially reluctant ones, become successful readers?

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

For teachers or parents out there who are struggling to get their kid to read - get this book! Wilhelm has spent years researching the best methods for engaging struggling readers with books, and for helping engaged readers find even more meaningful ways of connecting with stories, novels, and other texts. "You Gotta BE the Book" gives a fairly good overview of why struggling readers don't like reading, what's preventing them from enjoying books, and how to fix it. It also presents some simple activities that are incredibly effective at helping kids enjoy and make meaning from what they read.

As teachers, it is our responsibility to help struggling students over obstacles. This book isn't just for English teachers, though it definitely has more relevance to them than to any other subject; however, if you teach reading at all in your classroom, Wilhelm's ideas about reading activities and the struggle of low-level readers are definitely worth checking out. I found this book accessible, enjoyable, and incredibly useful in understanding the problems that many students go through and the ways we can help them overcome those problems.

Some of the ideas seem very simple or common-sense, but it's nice to be reminded of what may help students. I especially liked Wilhelm's ideas of using drama and art to respond to a text, instead of the more common question-and-answer or essay approach. I think that all of the activities he presents are practical and easy to implement in the classroom. Read this one! It's worth it.