The Power of Story

275p. bibliog. index. photos. Libraries Unlimited/Teacher Ideas. Nov. 2017. pap. $45. ISBN 9781440843969.
In this chatty, engaging work, the author, a noted educator who blogs at "Wink's World," asserts that learning is best achieved through voluntary free reading and storytelling, without the burden of frequent testing. She backs up her ideas with current data and lively anecdotes, synthesizing her own work and that of other literacy experts, especially Stephen Krashen. Wink advocates recognizing and working with students' individual learning styles. She describes the different literacies (functional, informational, emergent, cultural, etc.) and various paths to achieve literacy and offers in-depth looks at the experiences of educators who use a variety of methods. Particularly noteworthy are the experiences of English language learners who tell stories of the immigrant experience in their own language and in English. Innovative literacy projects from Appalachia to Ethiopia are vividly and movingly recounted. Wink strongly recommends the elimination of core curricula developed by state and federal agencies and instead pushes for small class size and classrooms that focus on the students and curricula controlled by teachers. She is critical of standardized tests developed by corporations for that nonexistent "standardized child." The author points out that testing isn't necessary to evaluate students, as assessment data is readily available from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The bibliography is extensive and the index useful.
VERDICT Elementary school librarians and teachers will be inspired to advocate for nonstandardized assessments in child-centric learning environments that emphasize storytelling and stories. Highly recommended.

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