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Professional Development

Children's Books


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How Texts Teach What Readers Learn
by Margaret Meek

ISBN 978 0 903355 23 0

1988  pb  48 pages

 Item #554
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Margaret Meek's book is an exploration of literature and language, revealing abundant lessons that enrich the reader's imagination and guide learners in their understanding of story and life.

This classic gem of a book has been informing British teachers for more than two decades.  Now, at last, it is available in the US at a time when conflicting policy issues dull our perceptions about language and literacy.  What has been damaged can be reclaimed.  Margaret's engaging book brings to our attention what is important in the work of teachers with young children.

Representative quotes from Margaret Meek’s   book, How Texts Teach What Readers Learn.

Strange as it may seem, the reading of stories makes skilful, powerful readers who come to understand not only the meaning but also the force of texts.  It is a strong defence against being victimized by the reductive power of so-called 'functional literacy'.  It also makes writers.   P. 40

To learn to read a book, as distinct from simply recognizing the words on the page, a young reader has to become both the teller (picking up the author's view and voice) and the told (the recipient of the story, the interpreter). p. 10

…experts tell us that the lucky children are those who are read to. If they know stories or rhymes by heart, they bring the words to the page when they read for themselves. They discover that you can play with language in both speech and writing, and they also learn not to expect the same sense from 'Diddle diddle dumpling, my son John' as from stories about a first day in school.  p. 21

The signs of genuine reading development are hard to detect as they appear, and bear little relation to what is measured by reading tests.  p. 30

…lessons that are taught about reading rather than learned by reading. The result is a divergence in competence and understanding between young readers who have entered the reading network through the multiple meanings of polysemic texts and those who may have practised only on the reductive feature of words written to be 'sounded out' or 'recognized.' Those who have had only the latter experience often feel that they are missing something when they read a text which they know means more than it says. p. 24

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Author Bios:

Margaret Meek is Emeritus Reader in Education at the Institute of Education in the University of London. She supervises research in education, literacy and children's literature. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the National Literacy Trust. In 1970 she was awarded the Eleanor Farjeon Prize for services to children and books.