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Suggested Classics

These classic books and articles, listed in chronological order, offer insights about language, thinking, and learning from notable scholars. Knowing this history helps greatly in understanding the reading process and in evaluating current trends in reading instruction. Click on a title to access the item.

Huey, E.B. (1908). The Psychology and Pedagogy of Reading. New York: MacmillanHuey describes reading as an active, meaning-focused process, equates reading with thinking, and points out that meaning cues help readers recognize and process words.

Dewey, J. (1910). How We Think. Boston: Heath. Dewey asserts that individuals expect things to make sense and will actively imbue experiences with meaning if they do not appear meaningful. 

Betts, E.A. (1946). Foundations of Reading Instruction: With Emphasis on Differentiated Guidance. New York: American Book Co. Betts is known for his Directed Reading Activity (DRA), on which many classroom lessons are still based.  

Kelley, E. (1947). Education for What is Real. New York: Harper & Row. Kelley's observations on the subjective nature of perception, thinking, and learning are as insightful now as they were when first published.

Piaget, J. (1952). The Origins of Intelligence in Children. New York: International Universities Press. Piaget's observations of child development led to our understanding of how assimilation, accommodation, and disequilibration are the foundation of cognitive development and learning.

Bruner, J. (1960). The Process of Education. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. To Bruner, learning is a complex cognitive process and involves inquiry and discovery at all levels, including the youngest ages. His work directly challenged the stimulus-response behaviorist view of learning.

Heilman, A.W. (1964). Phonics in Proper Perspective. Columbus, OH: Merrill. Heilman discusses "the purpose and limitations of phonics instruction as it relates to reading" and specific instructional practices. That the book has gone through so many editions since 1964 attests to its ongoing usefulness.

Goodman, K.S. (1967). "Reading: A Psycholinguistic Guessing Game." Journal of the Reading Specialist 6: 126-35. Goodman's seminal article discusses his extensive observations of how youngsters make meaning as they read.

Britton, J. (1970). Language and Learning. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin. Britton's extensive, insightful discussion of how children acquire and use language is of great use to educators.

Smith, F. (1973). Psycholinguistics and Reading. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston. This collection of essays reveals how reading involves an integration of thought and language.  

Stauffer, R.G. (1975). Directing the Reading-Thinking Process. New York: Harper & Row. With his DRTA, Stauffer redefined guided reading by putting the emphasis on thinking. 

Durkin, D. (1978–1979). “What Classroom Observations Reveal About Reading Comprehension Instruction.” Reading Research Quarterly 14(4): 481–533. Durkin's research revealed that classroom practice most often assessed comprehension but provided little in the way of comprehension instruction.

Temple, C.A., Nathan, R.G, & Burris, N.A. (1982). The Beginnings of Writing. Boston: Allyn & Bacon. This book shows how children go from becoming aware of written language to becoming confident writers, with numerous  illustrations from youngsters.

Graves, D.H. (1983). Writing: Teachers & Children at Work. Portsmouth: Heinemann. The descriptions of classroom activities and interactions in this book illustrate how writing, like reading, is best taught as a meaning-making process. 

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