Living Reading: Exploring the Lives of Reading Teachers (2000) goes inside the International Reading Association at local, state, and national level to investigate the ways teachers understand and
promote literacy when they are not "on the clock" so to speak, but rather taking part in non-mandated professional development activities.
Over a period of 18 months I participated in "the reading sorority", as one member quipped to me, attending business meetings, read-ins at local malls, and state and national conferences. As the term "reading sorority" suggests, it is also primarily a world of women. The members of the reading councils are those women who stay in teaching across a lifetime. They are also those longtime members of a school or district who seek to make things better. Reaching out to learn new things, get inspired, and meet others who care as they do.
The term "living reading" was born when I realized that reading council members actually spoke little about reading or literacy in their normal business. Rather, they saw their entire teaching life as testament to their beliefs about reading, and the central place it held in their values as teachers.
Life in the reading councils was, I found, like all human organizations--rich with symbolic intensity and political wrangling, filled with laughter at one time, and concerns about children and families at another. Caught between the forces of local school districts, growing calls for high stakes testing, and the seductive advertising ploys of textbook publishers, reading council members searched for meaningful pathways forward through the thickets.
Available from Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.