Reading for Life : High Quality Literacy Instruction for All book cover
1st Edition

Reading for Life
High Quality Literacy Instruction for All

ISBN 9781138590922
Published December 19, 2018 by Routledge
224 Pages

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Book Description

Why is it that more people can’t read and write? Why are there still so many vastly different methods of teaching literacy? Why do people still argue about it?

Reading for Life examines these three questions, addressing the less evidence supported ideas about teaching reading and writing which are still alive and well in schools all over the world. This accessible guide bridges the gap between research and practice, translating academic findings into practical suggestions and ready-to-use techniques.

Written in an approachable style and with informative graphics, vignettes and interviews woven throughout, this book covers:

  • the components of literacy, including phonics, vocabulary and fluency
  • the history of approaches to literacy teaching and an overview of the key figures
  • government-level inquiries into the provision of reading and writing teaching
  • the mindset which leads to acceptance of poor practice
  • the essential components of an effective literacy program with practical advice on selecting resources to get the job done well

Reading for Life helps educational practitioners make informed decisions about which teaching methods to reject and select, and empowers parents to ask the right questions of professionals and policy makers. This book is a timely exploration of poor teaching methods and is an innovative, fresh assessment of how high quality literacy teaching can be provided for all.

Table of Contents

Section 1: More than just talk

1. A simple view

2. Oral language development

3. Phonological awareness 1

4. Phonics

5. Fluency

6. Vocabulary

7. Comprehension 

8. Underlying processes for reading

9. The consequences of low literacy

Section 2: The Reading Wars

10. The major players

11. Children left behind 

12. Rose to the occasion

13. The Land of Oz

14. The current scene

Section 3: The arc of pedagogy is long, but it bends towards evidence

15. Why changing your mind is good for you

16. Cults and catchphrases

17. Won’t get fooled again: Logical fallacy

18. Fooling ourselves: Cognitive bias

19. Snake oil: The disappointing truth

20. Diagnosis: Dyslexia

Section 4: Teaching reading and writing

21. Teaching reading and writing: Overview

22. Teaching handwriting 

23. Teaching the alphabet

24. Teaching phonological awareness 

25. Teaching phonics 

26. Teaching fluency

27. Teaching vocabulary 

28. Teaching comprehension 



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Lyn Stone is a linguist and runs Lifelong Literacy, a specialist tutoring practice for children and adults with learning difficulties, on the Mornington Peninsula in Australia. She also writes courses, trains teachers and acts as a consultant for schools on matters of literacy and language.


"With the author's characteristic sharpness and wit, this book pulls together the academic, psychological and ideological threads of the enormous literature on reading instruction, drawing on research, personal experience and a broad sampling of the best that has been thought and said on the matter." – Dr Jennifer Buckingham, Director of FIVE from FIVE reading project

"‘Of making many books there is no end’ – that certainly applies to books on the teaching of reading. However, there is always room at the top, which is where this book belongs. Lyn Stone has assembled a highly valuable picture of what it takes learn to read, how best to support struggling readers, and teach reading to best effect. She has also captured the context of the ‘tedious debate’ about teaching reading and, in so-doing, exposed the fake opposites, which have muddied the waters in this territory for far too long." – Sir Jim Rose, C.B.E., FRSA

"This is a book that should be read everywhere we require people to read. The tragedy is that anything in this should be contentious or controversial to anyone, given the enormous evidence bases that inform its conclusions, or the precision and care Stone invests in unpacking not just the methodology, but the assumptions and axioms of language transmission. There is a war going on between those who mean well, but promote inefficient methods of reading instruction, and those who also mean well and commit to using the best and most evidenced methods. Stone's book is a fabulous example of the latter, and it is not only a powerful addition to the oeuvre of evidence informed education, but a readable and accessible one too. Read it twice, then pass it on to someone else." – Tom Bennett, Director of researchED

"On the whole, I see Reading for Life as a useful addition to my bookshelf. In particular, the “cheat sheet” of major players in the reading wars (p. 50-63) is a great idea, and the author’s perspective on dyslexia (p. 128-137) is well expressed. The frequent references to metaphors and the blog-style length and tone of each chapter also make this book a quick and easy reference guide for a variety of topics." - Nicola Bell, Nomanis