More Reading Power, by Beatrice S. Mikulecky and Linda Jeffries
It is always interesting to look at the way that a follow-up book seeks to add on to the success of a previous volume. Some books fill in the gaps of previous books by expanding the content to areas that could not be discussed for lack of time or because they had not happened yet at the first book. Still others are written with a plan and a design and show a narrative arc of some kind that goes above and beyond each book itself. And then there are books like this one, where the authors essentially repeat themselves in terms of what they are teaching the reader, just doing it with different material than they did before. As a reviewer, this approach is especially disappointing when one reads this book back-to-back with the previous volume, making its shortcomings and lack of excitement of approach in rehashing the previous book’s approach all the more apparent. If the first book was a not very appealing book in some ways, the second book is like the disappointing leftovers of an already disappointing book, and if you don’t really like the first book, this is not one that is going to be all that enjoyable to read.
This book is about 250 pages long or so, and is divided into four parts with various supplementary material for teachers. The book begins with an introduction, and then contains a short chapter about reading for pleasure (1). This is followed by a longer chapter that looks at various comprehension skills (2) like previewing, scanning, skimming, using vocabulary knowledge for effective reading, making inferences, finding topics, discovering topics of paragraphs, understanding major ideas, identifying patterns of organization, and summarizing. This is followed by a chapter that encourages various thinking skills (3), and finally a chapter that uses information on Maria Montessori, Africa Today, and various global issues to teach readers to read faster (4). After this comes several appendices for teachers, including a book response sheet (i), record of books read (ii), pleasure reading rate finder (iii), and pleasure reading progress chart (iv), as well as a teacher’s guide with a sample syllabus. In its general pattern of writing, this book follows the same structure and the same approach of the book, largely differing in choosing a more politically biased and obvious approach to its reading that makes its focus on “thinking skills” all the more ominous in that it not only seeks to teach how one goes about reading and thinking better in a sense of understanding, but also, all too often, in perspective as well.
Among the more disappointing aspects of this book, and one that unfortunately needs to be mentioned, is the way that this book is not only written with the open and laudable agenda of teaching its readers to read better, but with the hidden and not praiseworthy agenda of seeking to inspire in its readers a certain leftist approach to reading and politics. While the book has the same basic and boring approach as the previous volume did, this one is even more glaringly obvious in politics, with essays dealing with dodgy claims of anthropogenic climate change and openly praising progressive educational politics and feminist claims, for example. The authors demonstrate the sad but important fact that a great deal of what people attempt to teach is not so much information or ways to learn, but a perspective to see the world that, in the case of this book and many educational efforts, is clearly defective. As such, a book like this cannot be recommended, because its authors are not simply trying to get people to read better, which would be a goal that any reader could support and appreciate, but want their readers to read and to think with the same foolish and mistaken worldview as that of the writers themselves.