Love of Literacy

Professional Literature


This is a list of some wonderful resource books and incredible authors.  Most of these authors have more than one book, each as worthy as the next, but to save space, I've limited it to these books.  I know I have left out other brilliant authors because I have a big 'to-read' list.  I wish I could read fast enough to add all the amazing authors I am intrigued by.  Check back often for new titles!!



Boushey, Gail and Moser, Joan. 2009. The CAFE Book: Engaging All Students in Daily Literacy Assessment & Instruction.  Portland, ME.  Stenhouse Publishers.

I love their first book "The Daily 5", which is a framework for literacy instruction that focuses on 5 key literacy learning areas.  The essence is to teach students independence while providing choice and promoting student-driven goal setting.  This is an important structure in order for the teacher to be able to work one-on-one and in small guided groups to meet individual student needs.

The reason I chose The CAFE book is because, no matter the framework you choose, the most essential part of your literacy instruction is knowing what to teach, when to teach it, and why.  That's where the CAFE menu comes in.  It focuses on four key areas of literacy instruction (Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expanding Vocabulary).  Awareness of these essential knowledges (and examples of lessons for each), being able to explicitly share them with students, focusing on student strengths, and guiding students to make their own learning goals, are all things you will learn about in this informative book.


Calkins, Lucy M. 1994.  The Art of Teaching Writing, New Edition.  Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann

While admittedly a huge read and cumbersome to hold, every language arts teacher must read the works of Calkins.  A brilliant author and educator who, like a select few in her time, and dare I say league, opened our eyes to authentic writing workshop for all ages.  Calkin's belief in the power of writing; that "we write to hold our lives in our hands and to make something of them" (p.8) resounds.  If you are struggling with 'old school' parents, administration, or colleagues, you need this book to help you spread the word about authentic writing workshop. Originally published in 1986 the information in this text is timeless.


Clay, Marie.  1998.  By Different Paths to Common Outcomes. York, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.

Coming soon-

I read this book over a decade ago, after being inspired by snippets I had read about Clay in University.  The founder of the Reading Recovery program, Clay has had much to offer the literacy world about how children learn to read and how to support struggling students.  At the time I borrowed the book from the library and unfortunately, I do not have a copy of my own.  With all due respect to Marie Clay, I would like to revisit the book before writing my personal annotation of it.


Collins, Kathy.  2008.  Reading for Real:  Teach Students to Read with Power, Intention, and Joy in K-3 Classrooms.  Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.

Looking for a new take on book clubs for young students that don't involve stagnant roles and useless sheets to fill out?  Then this book is for you.  It includes ideas to make reading clubs work for you and your students, even in kindergarten!  You will learn how to teach essentials such as genre, character studies, and author's purpose, but most importantly, you will see how book clubs help create lifelong readers. 


Culham, Ruth.  2005.  6+1 Traits of Writing: The Complete Guide for the Primary Grades.  New York, NY: Scholastic Inc.

This book will help you focus your writing instruction on 6 (+1) key areas: Ideas, Organization, Voice, Sentence Fluency, Word Choice, Conventions + Presentation.  It includes tons of hands-on lessons and picture book suggestions to help students succeed in each area.  Filled with example student anchor papers and rubrics, this book is a practical guide for new and veteran teachers.  Check out Culham's book for upper grades: The 6 + 1 Traits of Writing: The Complete Guide: Grades 3 and Up


Diller, Debbie.  2008.  Spaces and Places: Designing Classrooms for Literacy.  Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.

I waited too long to read this book!  Full of colour photos of real classrooms at all levels, this book will enlighten and inspire you.  There are tons of tips and strategies for using space most efficiently in your child-centered classroom.  The simple, yet powerful changes you can make to your room (no matter how small) will help you be most effective in your instruction, and will help students focus in an uncluttered, meaningful, and accessible learning environment.


Fletcher, Ralph and Portalupi, Joann.  2007.  Craft Lessons: Teaching Writing K-8, Second Edition.  Portland, ME:  Stenhouse Publishers.

The theory and Fletcher's philosophy about the craft of writing take up a small section at the beginning of the book but the gem is in the creative lessons and strategies that guide students in the process of writing workshop.  The lessons are divided into three sections by grade level (K-2, 3-4, and 5-8), followed by student samples and the recommended picture book list which coincides with the strategies.


Heard, Georgia, and McDonough, Jennifer.  2009.  A Place for Wonder: Reading and Writing Nonfiction in the Primary Grades.  Portland, ME:  Stenhouse Publishers.

My school board's language arts consultant and I recently organized a year-long study group with our entire team of grade one and two English teachers.  The professional development project focused on balanced literacy instruction and using non-fiction to promote a sense of wonder.  This was the anchor text we used to guide our thinking, and give us lesson ideas to try.  The book provided all the members (novice and seasoned) with new comprehension strategies to use with non-fiction texts as well as ideas for encouraging a sense of wonder among students, that in turn promotes talk, reading, and writing.


Hoyt, Linda.  2009.  Revisit, Reflect, Retell: Time-Tested Strategies for Teaching Reading Comprehension.  Portsmouth, NH:  Heinemann.

After having an invigorating workshop with Hoyt in 2010 I had to buy this book.  It is full of comprehension strategies to use with elementary students of all levels, and includes a DVD modelling two strategies with students (great for sharing with colleagues) as well as a CD of learning tools from the text so you can customize and print them for use with your students.


Miller, Debbie.  2002.  Reading with Meaning: Teaching Comprehension in the Primary Grades.  Portland, ME:  Stenhouse Publishers.

Debbie Miller's books are among those easy reads with a nice balance of anecdotal accounts, concrete student examples, and theory.  This book gave me a new perspective for using high level thinking skills with young learners.  She has great ideas for pushing students beyond and structuring lessons to promote strategies like making mental images, inferring, determining importance, and synthesizing. 


Miller, Debbie.  2008.  Teaching with Intention: Defining Beliefs, Aligning Practice, Taking Action, K-5. Portland, ME:  Stenhouse Publishers.

Another great Debbie Miller book which I couldn't leave out because it reaffirmed for me the importance of knowing your beliefs and I used that knowledge to encourage my colleagues to reflect on theirs.  This book will make you think about how children learn and how to use that knowledge to improve your instruction.  You will consider such things as your classroom environment, your lessons (and how meaningful they are), and using assessment to guide your teaching.


Miller, Donalyn.  2009.  The Book Whisperer:  Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child.  San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

The essence of this book has us reflecting on the absurdity of independent reading time being removed from most reading classrooms.  Miller's mission is to foster a love of reading in every child, to have that celebrated in classrooms, and to make sure it endures well beyond the realm of school.  Her students' success proves that real reading is the only way to achieve reading mastery.  Though the accounts take place in her 6th grade classroom, Miller's message is applicable to all levels and will surely inspire you no matter what grade you teach.


Reif, Linda.  2007.  Inside the Writer's-Reader's Notebook:  A Workshop Essential.  Portsmouth, Nh: Heinemann

Another title on my least that is geared towards upper grades (mostly high school) but nonetheless a must read for any literacy instructor.  This is the complete ins and outs and how-to's of establishing writer's-reader's notebooks.  The first quarter of the book explains Rief's recommended set-up of the notebook (what to include and why) and nearly the last three quarters of the book is filled with inspiring student samples.  The bonus is that the book comes with a 'blank' notebook set up by Rief with guidelines, quotes, and space to make it your own.


Short, Kathy, Harste, Jerome, & Burke, Carolyn.  1995.  Creating Classrooms for Authors and Inquirers, Second Edition.  Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann

An oldie but goody - bulky but timeless.  This book focuses on the concept of an 'authoring cycle' which connects reading and writing through a cycle of experiences, uninterrupted reading and writing time, sharing, editing, publishing, and strategy lessons (similar to mini lessons based on what the child knows and what should be worked on next).  The book also includes a large section with concrete lessons and examples to help you take writing full circle in your classroom.

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I truly believe in lifelong learning.  There are a wealth of fascinating, inspiring, and educational opportunities available for us; we just have to care enough to seek them.



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