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Blending Multiple Genres in Theme Baskets

The theme-basket concept of literature instruction combines several approaches known to work with marginalized readers, students with learning disabilities, and ELLs: 1) a thematic approach to teaching literature, 2) the use of children’s books in secondary classrooms, 3) the coupling of young adult books with the classics, and 4) capitalizing on young adults’ background knowledge, interests, and skills in reading multiple genres. This article includes a sample theme basket with The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck as its centerpiece.

For Teens, Phonics Isn't Enough

Schools often struggle to find appropriate materials and approaches to support adolescent literacy. Strategies that work for children can ignore teens’ existing skills, knowledge, and life experience, and exclude them from the critical content that their peers are studying. Here are some effective teaching strategies for struggling older students.

Hooking Struggling Readers: Using Books They Can and Want to Read

One of the keys to helping struggling readers is to provide them with books that they can and want to read. Fiction for struggling readers must have realistic characters, readable and convincing text, and a sense of the readers’ interests and needs. Non-fiction books, newspapers, magazines, even comic books can hook students on reading.
Middle school boy looking at graphic novel in the library

Motivating Reluctant Adolescent Readers

How can you motivate adolescents who have never turned on to the magic of reading? Tutoring teenagers is as much about building self-confidence as teaching skills. Low self-image and feelings of powerlessness trouble many unmotivated adolescents.

Movie Read-Alikes from YALSA

If the teens in your life love movies, check out this list of read-alikes for blockbusters like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre

Picture Books Are a Powerful Tool for Teen Readers

Picture books can help middle school and high school readers build background knowledge and visual literacy — and they are also deeply engaging. The range of topics presented in picture books, in the hands of skilled storytellers and artists provides many opportunities to explore different paths for learning and getting excited about reading and information.

Poor Children's Fourth-Grade Slump

Teachers have often reported a fourth-grade slump in literacy development, particularly for low-income children, at the critical transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” This study uses Chall’s stages of reading development to take a closer look.

Stuck in the Middle: Strategies to Engage Middle-Level Learners

Learn about three strategies that can help create a meaningful curriculum to engage middle-level learners. The strategies draw from effective classroom practices across grade levels, as well as from research about the social, emotional, and physical development of middle-level learners.

Student Motivation and Engagement in Literacy Learning

Teachers can help students build confidence in their ability to comprehend content-area texts, by providing a supportive environment and offering information on how reading strategies can be modified to fit various tasks. Teachers should also make literacy experiences more relevant to students’ interests, everyday life, or important current events.