Teaching Reading in the Content Areas: If Not Me, Then Who?

Teaching Reading in the Content Areas: If Not Me, Then Who?

Teaching Reading in the Content Areas: If Not Me, Then Who?

Teaching Reading in the Content Areas: If Not Me, Then Who?


History teachers aren't expected to teach science, math teachers aren't expected to teach social studies; so why are all teachers responsible for teaching reading? The answer is simple. An emphasis on reading and literacy skills in the content areas has an exponential effect on learning in every discipline.

This completely revised third edition of the best-selling Teaching Reading in the Content Areas seeks to help educators understand how to teach reading in their respective disciplines, choose the best reading strategies from the vast array available, and positively impact student learning. Throughout, it draws from new research on the impact of new technologies, the population boom of English language learners, and the influence of the Common Core State Standards.

Given the complexities of the reading process, teachers deserve--and this book provides--clear, research-based answers to overarching questions about teaching reading in the content areas:

• What specific skills do students need to read effectively in each content area?

• Which reading strategies are most appropriate to help students become more effective readers and independent learners?

• What type of learning environment promotes effective reading and learning?

By focusing on the differences in how content-area experts read and reason, teachers can be better prepared to help their students understand that the ways they read in biology are different from the ways they read in English, history, or mathematics.

To read successfully in different content areas, students must develop discipline-specific skills and strategies along with knowledge of that discipline. With that in mind, this book also includes 40 strategies designed to help students in every grade level and across the content areas develop their vocabularies, comprehend informational and narrative texts, and engage in meaningful discussions of what they read.


“New focus on reading, writing: Improving literacy offers gains in all subjects.”

—Taryn Plumb, The Boston Globe

As a middle school or high school teacher, or even as a parent of a “tween” or teen, it’s likely that you are not shocked by any part of the above news headline; however, you certainly may be dismayed. How and when did we stop expecting students to go to school and read and write in all of their classes?

Rediscovering the impact that reading in the content areas has on learning is the primary goal of this book. The second goal is to provide the latest research, tools, and guidance necessary to ensure that reading is a part of every young person’s daily learning experience.

Rationale: An Abundance of Compelling Reasons

The following short anecdote comes from the previous version of this book, which was written in 1998. We return to it now because, in many ways, students’ attitudes about reading haven’t changed much in the intervening years. This exchange is just as likely— and relevant—today as it was then. Perhaps you can sense the alarm one of the authors felt after hearing this response from her daughter’s boyfriend, Brian, when she asked him about reading: “No, I don’t read much; actually, I haven’t read a book all summer….” Knowing that he was valedictorian of the senior class, she asked him about the reading involved with his assignments in school. “Oh, I read what I need to in order to get by, but nothing more. I know I should read,” he admitted, “but I just don’t get into it.”

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