________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 13 . . . . March 4, 2005


Literacy Techniques for Building Successful Readers and Writers. 2nd. ed.

David Booth and Larry Swartz.
Markham, ON: Pembroke Publishers, 2004.
144 pp., pbk., $24.95.
ISBN 1-55138-173-7.

Subject Headings:
Reading (Elementary).
English language-Composition and exercises-Study and teaching (Elementary).


Review by Jocelyn A. Dimm.

**** /4


Teachers need to help young people reveal their thoughts about what they have read so that they can begin to reveal, clarify, modify, revise, and extend their frames of reference. If they are afraid to share their understandings, or misunderstandings, how will they begin to grow as readers?


It’s pretty safe to say if David Booth or Larry Swartz’s name is printed on a book cover, it’s worth a second look. Both of these educators/authors/researchers have been in the field for over twenty years, and their respected reputations precede them.

     In the second edition of Literacy Techniques, there is a well-structured, up-to-date reservoir of multiple ways to approach literacy. Although the two authors recognize the fast-growing trend of new “literacies” with a valuable preface, students of all ages need opportunities to be critical viewers to ensure they become media literate.

     The grounding of this manual is clearly in reading and writing.

We have to consider the effect of these media and their influence on the thinking, reading, and writing proficiencies of children as we develop school curriculum.

     This is not to say that Booth and Swartz do not put enough emphasis on listening and viewing - quite the opposite. They recognize that students texts have video, animation, and hot spots. In their world, the written word has been extended by the visual and the tactile.

     They pose the question, “What kind of dispositions do our children need as they enter school today?”

     This handbook offers over one hundred, practical strategies and activities focused on developing elementary children’s reading, writing, listening, and viewing skills.

     Relying on some of the latest research, Booth and Swartz offer a comprehensive collection of material for teachers that takes into consideration in the ever-changing climate of the literacy world.

     The manual has eight focus areas:

  • Supporting Literacy Learners
  • What’s in a Word
  • Meaning-Making with Texts
  • Responding to Texts
  • The Reading Workshop
  • The Writing Workshop
  • The Conventions of Language
  • Organizing a Literacy Classroom

     Within these areas are carefully organized strategies, ideas, and support for implementation in the classroom. Find also, as is always the case with both Booth and Swartz, a well-deserved emphasis on the arts and the arts’ significance in literacy, such as the section entitled, “Drama and Literacy.”

     What is always a highlight of manuals of this nature authored by Booth or Swartz (or, as in this case, both) is the authentic commitment of these two authors to the field of education. This is emphasized by their acknowledgment of the invaluable contributions of their colleagues, students, fellow authors and educators, and the communities in which they actively engage in their own teaching. The reference section provided here is exhaustive, citing other teaching guides, as well as picture books and young adult novels, and it is organized into specific categories so it is easy to use.

     Recommended for elementary teachers, Literacy Techniques would also meet the needs of middle school and junior high educators as well. Anyone involved in literacy recognizes that reading levels vary from student to student, and a great resource is one that reaches students and teachers on multiple levels – and this one does.

Highly Recommended.

Jocelyn A. Dimm is a sessional instructor and doctoral student at the University of Victoria where she teaches drama education and young adult literature in the Faculty of Education.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.