I Read It, But I Don't Get It (2000) is full of anecdotes and personal testimony from its author concerning her struggles to get her secondary school resistive readers reading. She walks the reader through her initial interactions with students, their struggles with reading, and ways that she built a classroom community based on trust rather than "teacher-as-provider-of-knowledge." She also sprinkles teaching strategies throughout the narrative, and includes copies of handouts as appedices.
Tovani does a good job of showing the growing population of non readers, and provides strategies to (re)engage them with books. Unfortunately, she spends a lot of the text reminiscing about conversations or struggles she faced with particular students rather than providing effective teaching strategies. The ones that she does include are helpful and easily accessible; however, nothing in her book is profound. In fact, teachers who keep up on professional
development won't glean any new information, but this would be a great book to share with novice teachers.
As always, Burke provides pre-service and practicing teachers with realistic
guides to make literature more meaningful to students. The reality is that schools have required reading lists, and on those lists are canonical titles that every teacher struggles with getting students engaged. By accessing students' prior knowledge, the texts become more meaningful to them and allows for more successful connections. Like many great ideas, however, he encourages
teachers to know the needs of their students and make the proper modifications based on those needs as well as the teacher's strengths. Not only that, but his rubrics and sample lessons are only meant as guides, not lock-step criteria that has to be covered exactly.
Something that I really appreciate about Burke is that he does a really good job of incorporating current research within his texts to show the validity of his approaches to teaching literature. Not
only do I enjoy the research, but I appreciate his effortless writing style. He's not really coming up with anything too innovative; however, he is showing English teachers that students can learn doing activities other than whole-class-discussions-turned-lecture. The goal should be to get students to share how much THEY know, not showing them how much WE know. Regardless of the Scholar Academic Ideology, students aren't sponges waiting for us to impart knowledge; they have their own, and we need to let them construct it.