________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 14 . . . . March 2, 2007


Tutoring Adolescent Readers.

Deborah Berrill, Laura Doucette & Dirk Verhulst.
Markham, ON: Pembroke, 2006.
158 pp., pbk., $24.95.
ISBN 1-55138-208-3.

Subject Headings:
Reading-Remedial teaching.
Reading (Secondary).
Volunteer workers in education.


Review by Gina Varty.

**** /4



Tutoring Adolescent Readers could be subtitled "everything you ever wanted to know about establishing a tutoring program but were afraid to ask." In 151 pages plus bibliography and index, teachers and tutors are shown the most effective strategies for helping learners with reading challenges.

      Right from the first sentence, "Reading is not a straightforward activity," the authors set the tone for what is to follow. For although reading is a complex task that comes easily to many people, those who struggle and are frustrated can be helped through one-on-one tutoring supported by the classroom teacher.

      The principle of the tutoring program build on the principles of effective reading instruction:

  • approaches each person as an individual with valued and distinct language, experience and culture
  • nurtures both self-esteem and competence in reading
  • provides a variety of reading approaches and strategies to support learners in constructing meaning from text
  • develops language and critical thinking skills through explicit instruction related to vocabulary, fluency and comprehension
  • grows out of close observation and documentation of learners' strengths, interests, and reading needs
  • provides texts and experiences that extend learners' understandings of language, themselves, and the world around them
  • teaches learners how to control and improve their own literacy (p. 8)

     The authors are affiliated with the Trent University School of Education and have collectively taught English or worked with teachers on literacy or tutoring strategies for more than 50 years. Their experience and scholarship are evident on every page. In addition to research-based examples and learner profiles, there are reproducible pages that are sprinkled throughout the book. These include focus questions and story and sequence maps. Each chapter builds on the next.

     Chapter 2    Setting Up a Volunteer Tutoring Program
- defining the role and responsibilities of tutors; recruiting, training and preparing tutors

     Chapter 3      Working With Dependent Readers
- identifying students who need more help; supporting different learning styles and needs
- kinesthetic, English as a Second Language learning disabilities

     Chapter 4      Getting Off To a Good Start
- insuring positive learning environment, building self-esteem getting to know students, creating an effective tutoring plan

     Chapter 5      Principles of Effective Tutoring
- using explicit instruction, diagnostic assessment, providing useful feedback

     Chapter 6      Helping Students Before They Read
- pre-reading strategies, K-W-L (Know-Wonder-Learn), context analysis, semantic maps, anticipation guides

     Chapter 7      Helping Students While They Read
- focus questions, story sequence maps, read-aloud strategies, think alouds, rereading

     Chapter 8      Helping Students After They Read
- consolidate what has been learned and check accuracy of predictions, mind maps, Venn Diagrams, personal response activities

     Chapter 9      Resources That Support Tutoring
- using a balance of genres, interested inventory, pros and cons of levelled texts, use of online resources

     Chapter 10      How to Promote Fluency and Word Recognition
- checklist, readers theatre, emphasis and intonation, taping oral reading, predicting, one-minute reading, letter-sound recognition, word search puzzles, suffix charts

- 21 reproducible pages including: tutoring strategies, diagnostic tools, list of web sites for book selection, map and chart organizers

     Although the strategies in this book target adolescent students with reading challenges, tutors and teachers of learners younger or older than the age 12-15 / grade 7-10 demographic, could easily benefit. Tutors can make a tremendous difference in the lives of their students. Through supporting different learning styles and needs, building student-tutor rapport, discussing progress, promoting enthusiasm, and providing engaging resources in various genres, even the most dependent, reluctant reader will be awakened to the inspiring joy of reading. Tutoring Adolescent Readers is a testament to that and more.

Highly Recommended.

Gina Varty, a librarian in Edmonton, AB, currently provides library supply for Edmonton Public Schools.

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

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