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Don Holdaway.

London, Faculty of Education, University of Western Ontario, c1984.
Distributed by Publications Office, Faculty of Education, University of Western Ontario, fl 37 Western Rd., London, ON, N6G 1G7.
67pp, paper, $3.95.
ISBN 0-920354-09-2.

Reviewed by Nancy Carlman.

Volume 12 Number 5
1984 September

This slender book makes and supports some very important points about education: that learning is more important than teaching, that a transactional or interactive approach to literacy learning is most successful in facilitating development , and that teachers can develop their own confidence and encourage individual, meaningful literacy learning by dispensing with the pre-packaged, "teacher-proof" materials and instead paying attention to the learning needs of their clients, the children in their classes.

These points are developed articulately in the first three chapters on "Research and Common Sense in Literacy Development," "The Environments of Literacy Learning," and "Literacy Programs in the Eighties." The stress is on beginning reading and writing.

Chapter 4, "Developmental Teaching of Literacy," gives specific examples of how the interactive approach would work in kindergarten and grades 1 and 2. There are models for lessons with specific titles mentioned, but the emphasis is on generalizing from the model to a teacher's particular class. Two ideas which appear particularly appearing are the use of an "oral cloze" method for helping beginning readers make predictions about what words they expect to see in context and the keeping of longitudinal records of each child, not only collections of written work but also audiotapes recorded over the course of the year with examples of oral reading and other language "performances."

One minor irritation is the use of "we" in the lesson section. Although it is certainly appropriate to use "we" for a community of teachers who share the same goals, to say that "we have built a 'Reading Cave'" is just not true. The author built the Reading Cave; and although it is a good idea that "we " might emulate, "we" have not yet done so.

Classroom teachers tend to shy away from theory, but this small book is so sensible and practical that it should not only appeal to them but also reinforce their own beliefs about how children learn best.

Nancy Carlman, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.
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