Crossing Over: Teaching Meaning-Centered Secondary English Language Arts

By Harold M. Foster | Go to book overview

chapter TWO
Crossing Over: A Personal
Narrative

Truth telling not only required enough care and persistence to get the facts straight, but also enough self-awareness and self-disclosure to allow readers to see my point of view (another term for bias) and make their own judgments about it. Because I believe that a writer's perspective is more than a collection of facts that can be listed in an introduction and then forgotten (Brown, 1992, A56).


The Library and the Hot Dog

There once was a community library in Pittsburgh housed in an old castle-like building of soot-darkened brick surrounded by a five-foot wall that was so wide that children used it as a walkway. Across the street from the East Liberty Branch of the Carnegie Library was a small drive-in restaurant, Original Hot Dogs. Forty years later, remembering those wonderful hot dogs, I know they were the best I have ever eaten, as any Pittsburgher over forty will testify. The East Liberty Library was constantly bathed in the smell of these hot dogs. Pavlov could not have created a better environment to ensure the love of books, which I will forever associate with Original Hot Dogs.

Almost every inveterate reader who reminisces about where the habit began, can provide “puppy love” testimonials to those early and young reading experiences. These testimonials tell those who teach English and reading a great deal about what they need to know about instruction. Much of modern reading theory has wisely come around to suggest that teachers create conditions to emulate the processes by which strong, dedicated readers learned to read almost naturally.

My testimonials include wonderful now-forgotten books read on the glider of my front porch on rainy summer days. I remember how moved I was by William Saroyan's Human Comedy and Lassie Come Home. I also remember

-25-

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