Improving Literacy in America

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Guidelines from Research

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

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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 this critically important book 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.
Here, Frederick J. Morrison, Heather J. Bachman, and Carol McDonald Connor present the most up-to-date research on the diverse factors that relate to a child’s literacy development from preschool through early elementary school. Urging greater emphasis on the immediate sources of influence on children, the authors warn against simple, single solutions that ignore other pivotal aspects of the problem. In a concluding chapter, the authors propose seven specific recommendations for improving literacy—recommendations that can make a real difference in American education.

Frederick J. Morrison is professor in the Department of Psychology and research professor at the Center for Human Growth and Development at the University of Michigan. Heather J. Bachman is research scientist at the Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University. Carol McDonald Connor is assistant professor, College of Education and Florida Center for Reading Research, Florida State University.

"At last, a book devoted to the multiple roots of literacy. In a welcome departure from the strictly didactic approach, Morrison, Bachman, and Connor pull together research from many fields to show that the basis for literacy begins very early in life and involves so much more than knowing letters and words. The authors appreciate the complexity of child development and have done a fine job explaining how the child’s motivation, relationships, and larger environment all contribute to the achievement of reading."—Edward Zigler, Sterling Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, Yale University


"This comprehensive work is one of the first to provide critical insights into both reading proficiency and reading difficulties by explaining how multiple influences interact to foster or impede literacy development. This is a must read."—G. Reid Lyon, National Institute of Child Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health

"This excellent book is a clear and critical synthesis of the many influences on children's learning. The authors also demonstrate that improving literacy among young children should be one of our nation's top priorities. Indeed, one can conclude that the current system of U.S public education should start earlier than age 5, since children's reading and math concepts begin well before kindergarten."—P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, Professor of Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University

 

ISBN: 9780300194647
Publication Date: March 21, 2005
240 pages, 6 x 9
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