Forgotten Readers: Recovering the Lost History of African American Literary Societies

By Elizabeth McHenry

Over the past decade, the popularity of Black writers including E. Lynn Harris and Terry McMillan has been hailed as an indication that an active African American reading public has come into being. Yet this is not a new trend; there is a vibrant history of African American literacy, literary associations, and book clubs. Forgotten Readers reveals that neglected past, looking at the reading practices of free Blacks in the antebellum north and among African Americans following the Civil War. It places the Black upper and middle classes within American literary history, illustrating how they used reading and literary conversation as a means to assert their civic identities and intervene in the political and literary cultures of the United States from which they were otherwise excluded.

Improving Literacy in America: Guidelines from Research

By Frederick J. Morrison, Heather J. Bachman, Carol McDonald Connor

An alarmingly high number of American students continue to lack proficiency in reading, math, and science. The various attempts to address this problem have all too often resulted in “silver bullet” solutions such as reducing class size or implementing voucher programs. But as the authors of Improving Literacy in America show improving literacy also requires an understanding of complex and interrelated social issues that shape a child’s learning. More than twenty years of research demonstrate that literacy success is determined by a combination of sociocultural forces including parenting, preschool, classroom instruction, and other factors that have a direct impact on a child’s development. Using the most up-to-date research on the diverse factors that relate to a child’s literacy development from preschool through early elementary school.

Teaching Reading to Black Adolescent Males: Closing the Achievement Gap

By Alfred W. Tatum

The racial achievement gap in literacy is one of the most difficult issues in education today, and nowhere does it manifest itself more perniciously than in the case of Black adolescent males.  Approaching the problem from the inside, author Alfred Tatum brings together his various experiences as a Black male student, middle school teacher working with struggling Black male readers, reading specialist in an urban elementary school, and staff developer in classrooms across the nation. Teaching Reading to Black Adolescent Males: Closing the Achievement Gap addresses the adolescent shift Black males face and the societal experiences unique to them that can hinder academic progress.  Tatum bridges the connections among theory, instruction, and professional development to create a roadmap for better literacy achievement.

Affirming Black Students’ Lives and Literacies: Bearing Witness

By Arlette Ingram Willis, Gwendolyn Thompson McMillon, Patriann Smith

Drawing on the authors’ experiences as Black parents, researchers, teachers, and teacher educators, this timely book presents a multipronged approach to affirming Black lives and literacies. The authors believe change is needed—not within Black children—but in the way they are perceived and educated, particularly in reading, writing, and critical thinking across grade levels. To inform literacy teachers and school leaders, the authors provide a conceptual framework for reimagining literacy instruction based on Black philosophical and theoretical foundations, historical background, literacy research, and authentic experiences of Blackstudents.  It includes counternarratives about the lives of Black learners, research conducted by Black scholars among Black students, examples of approaches to literacy with Black children that are making a difference, conversations among literacy researchers that move beyond academia; and a model for engaging all students in literacy.  

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