There is little evidence that skills instruction actually improves students' reading. In fact, it may be what's putting students off in the first place. So what are you to teach? Is your job to help students become readers or to prepare them for the next set of academic expectations? In If Not Now Jeanne Henry helps you find some answers.
Henry believes that willing practice is the only effective practice to help students become fluent and flexible readers. In If Not Now she describes her rejection of skills instruction, the journey that led her to Nancie Atwell's In the Middle, with its emphasis on the reading workshop, and her experiences adapting the reading workshop to her own college classroom.
The focus of her book is on the literary letters she and her students exchanged. Their words have much to reveal: her students worked too many hours, had little preparation for college, and had made life choices that made an education that much more difficult to pursue. They even discuss their reactions to how reading is taught. Their academic inexperience is sobering, but their transformation into avid readers is compelling. Henry makes fond and liberal use of these letters-all the while maintaining lively commentary about the theoretical implications.
If Not Now is not a how-to manual. It is a manifesto for any instructor who wants to improve students' reading. Henry turns a critical eye toward her own teaching and urges other teachers to do the same.