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When Kids Can't Read-What Teachers Can Do: A Guide for Teachers 6-12

4.35  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,516 Ratings  ·  146 Reviews
For Kylene Beers, the question of what to do when kids can't read surfaced abruptly in 1979 when she began teaching. That year, she discovered that some of the students in her seventh-grade language arts classes could pronounce all the words, but couldn't make any sense of the text. Others couldn't even pronounce the words. And that was the year she met a boy named George. ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published October 22nd 2002 by Heinemann Educational Books
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Nov 15, 2010 Eric rated it really liked it
Written by a real teacher who likes kids and recognizes the huge number of them who fall through the cracks in public junior high and high school classrooms. Starts off with a story of her own painful experience with this.

If you're a teacher like I or the author was, you have had kids (probably more than one per class) who can't do the work you assign because of reading deficits. With 30+ others to deal with, it's easy to just shine these kids on. You can flunk them or give them a D and pass th
Nov 14, 2014 Bethe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: professional, 5-star
WOW - excellent resource for reading teachers of all grades, not just the targeted 6th-12th graders in the subtitle! If more lower grade teachers used these strategies and techniques, perhaps there would be less of a need for this book in secondary grades. In fact, a 3rd grade class showed me their version of "Somebody wanted-but-so" (complete with hand motions) during a summary lesson in the library this week, the day after I read that chapter! So many great charts, question prompts, scales, li ...more
Taylor Guffey
Jun 26, 2016 Taylor Guffey rated it it was amazing
This was the most engaging and one of the most helpful textbooks I have ever read. It's a great resource for teaching reading at the middle and high school levels, and I will definitely refer back to it for guidance.
Dec 25, 2014 Scott rated it it was amazing
Kylene Beers has become my middle school literacy hero.
Aug 05, 2011 Sabrina rated it really liked it
Kylene Beers explains what her first year of teaching was like and I remember feeling the exact same way when I first started teaching. I read this as an undergraduate student, but it holds so much more meaning now as a practicing teacher of both writing and literacy. I keep it on hand as a reference when I need to refresh my memory about how to help struggling readers. I love all her stories of things that really happened to her in her own classroom. I felt it gave the book an authentic voice a ...more
Apr 22, 2009 Erin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teaching
This book has had a huge impact on my teaching. It is full of effective, research-based comprehension strategies that are easy to implement. It is also easy to read; I wish Kylene Beers taught at my school so I could be friends with her.
Jan 13, 2009 Jess rated it it was amazing
This book is worth the full cost of my M.A. program. Well-written, practical, full of strategies...I can't really imagine being an English teacher without it.
Tristan Miller
Jan 15, 2015 Tristan Miller rated it it was amazing
This book will change the way I teach. The students she describes in her book... I see them every day in middle school. Ultimately, we have to question: are we teaching the material, or are we teaching the student? Instruction must change to fix the problems we have with reading in this country. For me, this title plus her other, Notice and Note, is 70% of what a teacher needs to know to teach reading.

If you have students who struggle with any aspect of reading (and you might not realize it unt
Mar 21, 2015 Abby rated it it was amazing
I really enjoy reading Kylene Beers' work. I've read her book on Adolescent Literacy before this one, and I find the advice she gives to be practical and useful in the classroom. It feels kind of silly to me that I read this book at the very end of my reading specialist training, as it basically outlines what I've wanted to know all along. She doesn't get overly-theoretical or philosophical, and she doesn't blame kids reading problems on broader social issues. She just gives you practical strate ...more
Aug 15, 2015 Julia rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love and value the ideas of signposts to make our adolescent readers stop and THINK about the books they are reading in and out of our classrooms. I teach 6th grade where kids have been studying reading strategies for all their elementary years. I can't wait to take reading strategies to the next level by teaching signposts as explained in this well written book. students will be using all their background knowledge of strategies, apply them naturally and deepen their higher level t ...more
Mar 14, 2014 Clara rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent practical guide on how to teach reading comprehension, vocabulary-building, and decoding strategies to middle and high school students--especially if (like me) you have a lot of content knowledge but aren't quite clear on how to teach kids the most basic aspects of reading. Essentially a cookbook for English teachers, When Kids Can't Read not only offers specific strategies (often involving graphic organizers or outright picture creation, like "Vocabulary Trees" and the "Som ...more
Jun 23, 2009 Elaine rated it it was amazing
This is now my Bible. It's amazing. It gives so many suggestions to teachers who have kids who struggle with reading. I'd recommend this for any English teacher (even high school English teachers-- because, as Dr. Beers points out, there are many upper-grade students who have trouble reading because no one has yet taught them how to do it). But I'd also recommend it for teachers of any subject, along with parents, aunts, uncles, and anyone who is around children or has the least bit of interest ...more
Jun 03, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it
The book is strongly geared towards English teachers, with minimal suggestions for other subjects. That said, with modification, there are some very solid suggestions- enough to fill 3 pages of handwritten notes.

The most useful portion of the book begins around page 250. In general it isn't a particularly strenuous read, but the author does linger a little too long on word parts and phonics to completely hold my attention.
Jul 12, 2012 Amy rated it it was amazing
This book has been amazing. I have used many of the strategies in my 5th grade reading classroom, of which almost every student was academically behind several grade levels at the beginning of the year. I wish I had known of this book earlier, and I'm sure the gains my students made had been even greater. This book is well-organized and focuses on activities students truly enjoy. I appreciated the personal touch of Kylene's experiences with a student she feels she failed through letters to him. ...more
Sep 20, 2015 NEATE rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most useful, user friendly teaching books I have ever read. Beers' book gives practical, usable advice that I have been able to put into practice in my classroom and I have already seen results. The book includes "diagnostic" charts that allow me to quickly find help for student problems I encounter in the classroom. This book is worth every penny. -Cathy N.
Aug 05, 2015 Adelaide rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
Text for Foundations of Literacy, summer session 2015. This book was funny but very important. Kylene Beers points out all of the unhelpful things we tell students who are struggling (Did you read it? Use context to figure that word out!) and the need to actually teach reading skills in middle school and beyond.
Dede Smith
Aug 05, 2013 Dede Smith rated it it was amazing
A must read for every teacher-the title indicates that this is a guide for teachers of grades 6-12. I disagree. The author cites specific strategies and instructional practices to use in the teaching of reading - no matter what grade you teach. "We must, at all times, remember that we don't teach a subject, we teach you-specific children with specific needs. And there's not a teacher out there who doesn't know you. You come from all nations, from all ethnic groups, as a boy or girl. You are from ...more
Nov 23, 2014 Whitney rated it really liked it
Lots of great strategies with real application examples from actual high school classrooms. I have found it difficult to find resources for my high schoolers who struggle--so much is meant for elementary students--and this book has been invaluable.
Wanda Gibbons
Jul 24, 2016 Wanda Gibbons rated it it was amazing
Shelves: professional
I keep reading and re-reading this excellent teacher resource for helping teenagers learn to read at a level where they are now at age and grade wise. Pedagogically very sound for teachers of grades 7-12 students no matter the subject.
Erica Jennings
Dec 04, 2015 Erica Jennings rated it it was amazing
This book is stocked full with reading strategies that can help any range of students comprehend stories. She focuses mostly on struggling readers, but her ideas can certainly help independent readers get stronger as well.
Oct 13, 2011 Tina rated it really liked it
This book was a great "shot-in-the-arm" for me!! My present postiion is the Librarain in a Middle School, but I feel like I still wear my "reading teacher" hat - thanks to being able to collaborate with the reading teachers in my building. This book is so easy to read and understand - I'm thinking about having my night class students read parts of it. My favorite quote showed up on p.287 -"As one young man told me once about tough books, "I want to meet these characters on the pages of a book be ...more
Oct 29, 2014 Kelly rated it it was amazing
I read this quite a few years ago. Great book full of examples and practical advice. Beers is a teacher; she knows what goes on in the classroom. EVERYONE, not just ELA teachers, should read this.
Shifting Phases
Jul 12, 2011 Shifting Phases rated it liked it
Readable and helpful. A bit more elaborated than Cris Tovani, so a slower read, but full of enough narrative that it feels like watching someone teach.

Creating Independent Readers
Assessing Dependent Readers' Needs
Explicit Instruction in Comprehension
Learning To Make An Inference (includes helpful list of types of inferences)
Frontloading Strategies: Pre-Reading Strategies
Constructing Meaning: During-Reading Strategies
Extending Meaning: After-Reading Strategies
Vocabulary: Figuring Out What Wo
Joy Prior
Sep 17, 2014 Joy Prior rated it liked it
Honest and will use in my class. A lot related to upper grades and I teach kindergarten so there will be more group writing and teacher think aloud than standard but quality ideas for sure
Bridget Yarusso
May 16, 2013 Bridget Yarusso rated it it was amazing
A very practical guide to recognizing and reaching out to struggling readers in the classroom. Beers provides theory and strategy for new and old teachers who want to grow lifelong readers when there is a noticeable drop in preadolescents' interest in reading academically or otherwise. Each chapter begins with a sometimes heartbreaking note to "George", a struggling reader from Beer's first year of teaching that she could not/did not help because she did not understand what she knows now. These ...more
Renae Salisbury
Apr 01, 2012 Renae Salisbury rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all teachers
Recommended to Renae by: Anna
I have read this book in bits and pieces, but I am now reading it from cover to cover, and I love it. Beers writes with humor, passion and knowledge - not just from academic achievement but also from serving in the trenches. Her definition of struggling readers reminds us that at one time or other, we are all struggling readers when faced with different types of reading. Her clear explanations and suggested instructional strategies are top-notch. Sprinkled among the chapters are her letters to G ...more
By far the best comprehensive book to help expliciitly teach reading strategies. The ideas in this book are helpful, and easy to implement in the classroom.
Mar 12, 2011 goddess rated it liked it
I actually didn't quite finish this; just slightly over halfway read. It was ok; but I'm hardly motivated to finish it right now. There's some good ideas; but I've read better educational materials. The author was a little wordy and there were elements that eventually had me skimming through. Like beginning each chapter with a letter to an old student she regrets not having helped more. (Those got old after one chapter.) And the "what it would look like" scenarios for using a particular strategy ...more
Sep 13, 2007 Erin rated it it was amazing
This was one of the many books my supervisor handed me in my first month @ 93, but it was hands down one of the most useful. Beers' explains how to implement the reading strategies into ELA instruction very clearly; she offers many practical, worthwhile ideas that I have actually employed in my classroom. Her little anecdotes about George, a former student, were somewhat cheesy, but it makes me wish that I had a student like George, someone to keep me committed to the profession. I thought I had ...more
May 05, 2016 Megan rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this book and gained a lot of great ideas for the classroom, but I thought it read as a textbook.
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