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Book & Print in New Zealand : A Guide to Print Culture in Aotearoa

Teaching reading

Teaching reading

Since 1963 New Zealand teachers have been members of the International Reading Association and the proceedings of the annual conferences of the New Zealand Reading Association (NZRA) are a useful account of reading practices, materials and research from 1970.

English in the New Zealand Curriculum is the Ministry of Education's policy document which sets out the reading objectives of the curriculum. Literacy is regarded as a reciprocal relation between reading and writing in New Zealand and there are two teachers' handbooks which accompany the policy— Dancing with The Pen: The Learner as a Writer (1992) and The Learner as a Reader: Developing Reading Programmes (1996), which contains a helpful bibliography of resources and discusses the conceptual thinking behind the teaching of reading.

The work of Dorothy Neal White and Dorothy Butler stresses the importance of books to small children. White's Books Before Five (1954) is based on a reading diary White kept of her daughter Carol's response to and interest in books with suggestions for parents. Butler's Babies Need Books (1980) discusses introducing books to babies and includes booklists by age group, as does its sequel Five to Eight (1986), a manual for parents on how to read and interact with children about books. Cushla and her Books (1979) is a case study of Butler's handicapped granddaughter and her relation with books, based on a reading diary kept by her mother, and also provides biographical information on the way Cushla learned to read.

The progress of children learning to read is monitored by teachers administering the PAT (progressive achievement) tests developed in the late 1960s, explained in Warwick Elley and Neil Reid's Progressive Achievement Tests (1969). The realisation that little was known about how small children interact and learn in the classroom led to the pioneering Reading Recovery work of Dame Marie Clay and the development of the Reading Recovery programme. Clay's Reading: The Patterning of Complex Behaviour (1972) and The Early Detection of Reading Difficulties (1979a) discuss the processes and procedures of reading readiness, including a diagnostic survey and Reading Recovery. Clay's work has been very influential internationally and there are many studies of reading which refer to or use her work. Courtney B. Cazden's Whole Language Plus: Essays on Literacy in the United States and New Zealand (1992) describes her seven trips to New Zealand from 1983 to 1991 in order to pursue a research project in Reading Recovery based on Clay's research (1979b, 1993).

There is a great deal of research on reading acquisition, Reading Recovery and reading readiness in education publications. Elley's Assessing the Difficulty of Reading Materials (1975) addresses the whole word method; he is the author of numerous studies on the teaching of reading including Lessons Learned From LARIC (1988). Learning Media's The Learner as a Reader (1996) surveys the field of theoretical writing in recent years and provides some historical account of the teaching of reading in the last two decades. There are also useful bibliographies and discussion of recent developments in Tom Nicholson's Overcoming the Matthew Effect (1991) and At the Cutting Edge (1994). There is a bibliography of New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) publications 1934-84 (Marland and Pickens, 1985) but no bibliography of Department of Education publications.