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Know Better, Do Better: Teaching the Foundations So Every Child Can Read
David and Meredith Liben
Liben Educational Consulting, LLC / Softcover / Jun 2019
9781943920693 (ISBN-10: 1943920699)
Language Arts & Disciplines / Families and Parenting
price: $36.50 (may be subject to change)
174 pages
Not in Stock, but usually ships within 2-3 weeks

It's our goal that every child in every elementary school in America can read fluently by the end of second grade. This book explains how to make that happen - for all children in all classrooms.

Meredith and David Liben have spent decades transforming education, working as teachers, researchers, leaders, and founders of an alternative public elementary school in Harlem--the Family Academy. The Libens have been on the front lines of the reading wars since 1994, when the Family Academy's first cohort of students failed the NYC end of year reading exam and they were confronted with the question: How can a school with plenty of resources, dedication to outstanding instruction, and support for social and emotional learning fail so spectacularly at teaching children how to read?

The answers are collected here in Know Better, Do Better: Teaching the Foundations So Every Child Can Read. The Libens have poured through the research, pedagogical movements, and deeply entrenched classroom myths to find the literacy practices and instructional materials that actually improve student learning outcomes. Through their work, the Family Academy reading scores rose to the highest of any non-gifted school in Harlem. The best of intentions aren't enough to make children literate; educators have to know better so they can do better.

This book is written for anyone concerned about the poor reading results of America's students, from teachers looking for real strategies to use in their classrooms to parents trying to be better advocates for their children.

Reviews and Endorsements:

Is it possible to turn around a school whose students have struggled in the past to become proficient readers?  The answer is YES, and David and Meredith Liben have done it!   In this highly readable and practical book, the Libens argue for the importance of developing a strong reading foundation in students and they describe how it can be done in any school. This is truly a must read for teachers, principals, and other school
personnel who want to change reading outcomes for their students. 
—Tim Rasinski (Professor Emeritus Ohio State University, Past President, International Reading Association)

The science of reading comes alive in this book.  It’s filled with evidence-based recommendations, and practical ones, for teaching students to read.  The authors provide a systemic approach, logical in its organization, to ensure that students have access to quality literacy instruction. 
—Doug Fisher (Author, Professor, San Diego State, Founder, Health Sciences High School and College, Past President International Literacy Association)

My career in education began as a first grade teacher and I needed this book. The Libens have provided an indispensable review of the research on foundational reading and translated the evidence/ base into engaging practice. This book is not meant to just read but to use over and over again.
—Francie Alexander (Literacy Solutions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Imagine a book that is easy to digest on the highly technical subject of foundational reading skills and chock full of nifty advice that teachers—and parents—can follow? That’s the Liben’s book in a nutshell. Each chapter focuses on a real child (or two or more) who enhanced the Liben’s vast ‘reading research knowledge’ with equal measures of humanity and humility. The book has resounding reverence and trust in the power of children’s brains to learn the stuff of learning to read--all children--even those who reach young adulthood never having fully cracked the code. Yes, they tell us, some children are slower at learning to read, but that’s just because they are slower, not because they are dumber. To the well- settled research on learning to read, the book recommends we add a measure of dedicated time, a dose of grit, and a dash of joy so no child is ever left behind or made to feel a failure.
—Susan Pimentel (grandmother to budding readers, Lead, College and Career Standards for Adult Basic Education, Lead Author English Language Arts - Common Core State Standards)

Phonics has gotten a bad name despite decades of scientific research showing how important it is. This
book explains why phonics matters so much and provides practical tips for teachers (and parents) on the
range of instructional elements that need to be in place for all kids learn to read. The chapter on how to

help older students will be especially useful for middle and high school teachers who too often end up
with struggling readers and don’t know what to do. 
—Emily Hanford, journalist and producer of Hard Words: Why aren't kids being taught to read?

In clear, engaging prose, David and Meredith Liben shed much-needed light on an unnecessarily vexed
and hugely important subject: how to teach kids to read. Drawing on their deep experience and broad
knowledge, they provide educators and parents with concrete, practical advice backed by strong
research. Their goal is that every American child will read fluently by the end of second grade. If
teachers, administrators, and policymakers pay attention to this book, that may well happen.
—Natalie Wexler, author of The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America’s Broken Education
System—and How to Fix It and co-author (with Judith C. Hochman) of The Writing Revolution: A Guide to
Advancing Thinking Through Writing in All Subjects and Grades

David and Meredith Liben have written a must-read for any parent with a child who is struggling with reading. Because of their book, I was able to understand my 6-year old son’s reading impairment in a new light, which in turn helped me to better support him as his parent. It was almost as if David and Meredith were sitting right next to me patiently explaining the basics of foundational reading in a clear and concise way, which I did not grasp prior to reading this book. I especially enjoyed each chapter opening with their personal stories as teachers with students who have struggled with reading on different levels along with their heartfelt story as parents of a child with a reading impairment. Thank you both for writing this relatable, informative and easy to understand book – you will help more parents than you know.
—Samina Kaloo, Parent, RDN, CDN

About the Authors:

Meredith Liben works closely with states, districts, schools, publishers and organizations working to ensure strong student learning through implementation of the Common Core State Standards. She worked on the Common Core State Standards for ELA, leading the text complexity measurement work, and was a member of the Common Core ELA Working Group. Liben has taught in a wide range of settings over the past 30 years, spanning kindergarten through grad school. Most recently, she taught embedded literacy content to rural CTE students. In addition, she was an adjunct at Community College of Vermont, and taught reading and writing instructional methods courses to new teachers transitioning from industry to the classroom. Recently, she had a chance to combine her expertise in CTE and the Common Core as a member of the Promoting College and Career Ready Standards in ABE taskforce. The work of that group resulted in the publication of College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education. In the 1980s and '90s, she founded and taught in two schools in Harlem, New York Prep and the Family Academy, the latter a full service school that achieved high academic outcomes for neighborhood students. She has a master's degree in Teaching of English with a concentration in Rhetoric from City University of New York and a bachelor's degree in Classics and Government from Oberlin College.

David Liben has over 40 years of experience in education. He has taught elementary, middle school and high school students in public and private schools as well as community college and teacher preparation courses in New York City and Vermont.

David along with Meredith founded two innovative model schools in New York City. In 1985, they joined other teachers to found New York Prep, a junior high school in East Harlem. In 1991, they founded the Family Academy. David served as the school?s Principal and lead curriculum designer for the first twelve years of the school.

During that time, in addition to overseeing the curriculum, staff and programs, David was responsible for developing the Family Academy curriculum, which now exists in part as Articles by the Libens describing the school model and full curriculum have appeared in Educational Leadership and Phi Delta Kappan and will be the subject of an upcoming book.

Since 2010, David has worked with Student Achievement Partners and has focused his work on publishers interested in making high quality, comprehensive ELA programs that are aligned to College and Career Readiness. He has also developed many training courses and has consulting and coached many districts and schools, working with educators on how to teach students to learn independently from complex text. David synthesized the research behind the CCSS and is currently, the Senior Fellow in Literacy at Student Achievement Partners.

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