Pros: Great mentor text for writing, formal organized presentation, writing assignments
Cons: A few lesser known but no less talented writers
One of the tenets of good writing is that the writer has become a good reader. Why is this so important? As we begin writing, it is crucial to have modeled to us what good writing looks like just as we do with reading and what good readers sound like, think and experience while they are reading. In order to present to writers that model of good writing, various publishers have collected classic works. For mature students, Jean Wyrick and Beverly Slaughter edited a traditional reader for Harcourt Brace (now
quite honestly, Im not sure who has rights to this book any longer with all the mergers) that has lasted through time. The Rinehart Reader contains those classic works that teachers can reference to in order to present a model for specific genres of writing.
As Wyrick explains in the introduction, classic does not necessarily equate with dusty. These classic works are pulled from modern works of literature, etc. and present great literary works illustrative of a particular style of writing the teacher may be trying to explain to students. It is imperative that students have great pieces of literature serving as mentor texts. Research has shown at every level of education that such is critical to success. (See further information in Lucy Calkins classic work The Art of Teaching Writing.)
The Rinehart Reader is one of two classic works presenting such mentor texts. But it is much more than that. While it contains great mentoring texts from such famed writers as Toni Morrison, Langston Hughes, Malcom X, Maya Angelou, Robert Frost, Edgar Allan Poe, William Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, and Margaret Mead, the book also contains backgrounds on each writer and topics for writing and discussion after each selection. Each section of the book contains a writing assignment at the end of the book. While readers may be more familiar with anthologies of literature (such as Nortons) for readers, think of this book as an anthology of literature for writers. The Rinehart Reader does also contain some gray plate photography of selected writers.
The book begins with a great discussion of the role of reading in writing. This is an exercise in futility with some students, but one a good teacher will emphasize none the less. In recent years I have develop a workshop on the reading and writing connection that has gained popularity at many of the reading conferences. I think failure to emphasize how the two combine is missing a great opportunity in the classroom. But I digress. The discussion in the text will help students to focus on the important elements of writing modeled by classic writers. Wyrick and company explain to students the process in becoming a critical reader. Then they model what they would think while reading by presenting an essay and inserting marginal notes showing important features and critical thinking processes.
The authors then present a Donald Murray essay entitled Reading as a Reader and a Eudora Welty essay A Sweet Devouring about books as a child. This is followed by a short piece from Richard Wright Discovering Books, Judith Viorst (How Books Helped Shape My Life), A Homemade Education from Malcom X, and on it goes as the authors impress young minds with the importance of print. (You have learned that lesson, because you are reading this review.) For everything we read, someone has written.
Students need to learn how to write! One of the factors of jobs going to India is that these folks are well trained in writing and can do the spec writing so important in writing manuals, guides, and other technical writing in the business realm. Nearly 50% of students entering college today have to take remedial writing courses. With works such as The Rinehart Reader teachers will have a valuable tool in teaching students what works in good writing. These models of good writing are among the best extant literature. As such, it is still highly recommended.
The Rinehart Reader
Edited by Jean Wyrick and Beverly J. Slaughter
Published by Harcourt Brace
Table of Contents
Part One- Reading and Writing Essays
Chapter One- Why Read? How Can Reading These Essays Help Me?
Winn, Murray, Welty, Wright, Viorst, Malcom X, MacNeil, Morrow, Berry
Chapter Two- The Writing Process
Didion, Ehrlich, Elbow, Baker, Berke, Zinsser, Murray
Part Two- Essays for Reading and Analysis
Chapter Three- Narration
Hughes, Selzer, Angelou, Gansberg, Walker, Kingston, Frost, Poe
Chapter Four- Description
Steinbeck, Didion, Momaday, White, Dillard, Woolf, Brooks, Olsen
Chapter Five- Process
Quinn, Mitford, Keillor, King, Jr., Gordon, Scudder, Hayden, Jackson
Chapter Six- Definition
Ciardi, Didion, Chase, Rodriguez, Mead, Ellison, Plath, Crane
Chapter Seven- Illustration
Buckley, Jr., Staples, Thurber, Tuchman, Walker, Morrow, Robinson, Thurber
Chapter Eight- Comparison and Contrast
Twain, Catton, Berry, Britt, Lopez, Morrison, Shakespeare, Porter
Chapter Nine- Division and Classification
Baker, Updike, Zinsser, Viorst, Thomas, Golding, Auden, Tan
Chapter Ten- Cause and Effect
King, Jr., Forster, Goodman, Tuchman, Mannes, Orwell, Bishop, Chopin
Chapter Eleven- Persuasion and Argument
Carson, King, Jr., Thomas, Rodriguez, Woolf, Kline, Brady, Vidal, Cousins, Jefferson, Stanton, Swift, Marvell, Hemingway
Glossary of Rhetorical and Literary Terms
There is also an annotated table of contents of all of the literary works following the table of contents.