Sunday, April 9, 2017

review: disrupting thinking part 1

So excited that Stephanie from Scholastic reached out to me to review Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters by Kyleen Beers and Robert E. Probst. I'm only through the first part, but it's coming to you *highly recommended.

So let's start with what I'm loving about this book. First of all, the book is beautifully put together. I love the colored pages, the quotes that are set off in the text, the conversations that are included between Kyleen and Bob and the students, and the funny anecdotes from the authors, like this one...

If I can speak for a moment about the conversations that are included with the text, I have to impress upon you how powerful they are. The Opening Comments to part one include conversations between students and either Kyleen or Bob about how students feel about reading. They begin with a first grader and continue with a child in third, fourth, seventh, eighth, and a college freshman. The change in the children's thinking as they grow... it's disheartening. It will certainly cause you to pause and consider the counterproductive methodologies we are using to instruct children in reading, and lead children to be young adults who can read but choose not to.

Beyond that is the philosophy that this work is grounded in, that of Louise Rosenblatt. She wrote the Transactional Theory of Reading, which states that when any person reads a text, a transaction takes place, one that will be slightly different from the next person's because each reader brings something different to the text. I was thrilled to come upon a heading, "From Extracting to Transacting" and a thorough explanation of efferent vs. aesthetic reading.

I'm only through the first part, which is theory based, but I'm loving it. It discusses the readers we want in our classrooms - responsive, responsible, and compassionate. I was particularly excited to see, in the chapter on responsible readers, that part of that work is responsibility to others, which then gets into fake news and social media's role in perpetuating that. In the chapter about compassionate readers, they lead with the recent political climate of the 2016 election cycle, and after a discussion about what a compassionate reader is, they end the chapter this way:
And perhaps, as adults, they will enter into conversations with one another with more civility, with more generosity, with more kindness toward one another.
Seriously. Swoon. 

I'm so happy we have yet another example of research in the literacy field that reaffirms what I believe about teaching reading - we're not here to teach kids to pass a test. We are here to help children not only see the joy in reading, but also guide them how to use what they have read to become better people and make our world a better place. We want students that are responsive to the texts they read, who are responsible about reading - who do not fall for alternative facts and students who are also compassionate people, who have an emotional reaction to what they are reading, so they can become better people who create a strong democracy here in the United States.

I'm only a third of the way through this book and I'm already in love. I know you will be too, and I have a copy to give away! To be eligible for this giveaway, be sure to comment on this blog, and the other two that will be coming in the next two weeks.

At the end of each chapter is an option to turn and talk about ideas within the text, so share with me you thoughts on one of my favorite questions from chapter one:

In this country, we kept slaves from learning to read. Additionally, for a while in our history, you were adequately literate if you could simply sign you name - or even just make an X. In developing countries today, girls are still educated less than boys. What do these situations suggest about the potential power of reading?

Can't wait to hear what you think and I'll see you back in another week!


  1. I am definitely going to get this book based on your above blog post! The quote above makes me think of the low socio-economic kids we work with you can't get out from where they are due to limited funds/education/etc.
    I am wondering if the book addresses alliterate students who are unmotivated?
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Sounds like a great book. No surprise coming from these authors. I am looking forward to reading it myself. Thanks for the review!

  3. I am so pleased to read your review! I've wanted to read this book so bad. I teach Flint, Mi kids and all my students are below "grade level"" grrr! Again we are labeling our youth. Anyway our literacy coach is also my mentor. I plan on buying her a copy too because she has been awesome and a wealth of information and assistance! Thanks for helping me make this decision.

  4. I am planning to enjoy this book during my summer reading time. I can't wait! I might plan a professional book club with my colleagues . I love this topic!

  5. Thanks for this insightful review. I love that there is a mixture of theory, practical and real life humor involved. It sounds like there's a lot of depth and may take me a few times reading it. I like the idea of a professional book club.

  6. Such powerful authors sharing true stories about students. So important to include student voices in any meaningful conversations about school!!!

  7. Kylene and Bob are at it again. Making people think while reading! I really enjoyed your post and your review of this book. Sounds like a winner.

  8. I'm really enjoying this book as well. When Stephanie contacted me I was like, "You had me at fake news." This book is exactly what teachers want who are more worried about their students feeling safe in their school communities than aggregate data. Children need to feel a sense of belonging and be heard. Learning can only come after that, and testing can only come after learning.


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