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No More Fake Reading

No More Fake Reading
Merging the Classics With Independent Reading to Create Joyful, Lifelong Readers

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August 2017 | 288 pages | Corwin

For middle- and high-school teachers, it’s one of today’s most vexing problems: How do you motivate students with varied interests and little appetite for classic literature to stop faking their way through texts and start advancing as skilled, engaged readers? 

Independent reading is an important part of the answer, but it’s just that — a part of the whole. In this groundbreaking book, Berit Gordon offers the complete solution, a blended model that combines the benefits of classic literature with the motivational power of choice reading. 

With the blended model, teachers lead close examinations of key passages from classic texts, guiding students to an understanding of important reading strategies they can transfer to their choice books. Teachers gain a platform for demonstrating the critical reading skills students so urgently require, and students thrive on reading what they want to read.

In this research-backed book, Gordon leads you step by step to classroom success with the blended model, showing:

  • The basics of getting your classroom library up and running
  • How to build a blended curriculum for both fiction and non-fiction units, keeping relevant standards in mind
  • Tips and resources to help with day-to-day planning
  • Ideas for selecting class novel passages that provide essential cultural capital and bolster students’ reading skills
  • Strategies for bringing talk into your blended reading classroom
  • How to reach the crucial learning goal of transfer
  • A practical, user-friendly approach for assessing each student’s progress

No More Fake Reading gives you all the tools you need to put the blended model to work for your students and transform your classroom into a vibrant reading environment.

Berit Gordon
 coaches teachers as they nurture lifelong readers and writers. Her path as an educator began in the classroom in the Dominican Republic before teaching in New York City public schools. She also taught at the Teachers College of Columbia University in English Education. She currently works as a literacy consultant in grades 3-12 and lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and three children.

Introduction: “What Book Should I Read Next?”
Vignette of a High School Reader

CHAPTER ONE Why Are My Students Snapchatting Their Way Through The Odyssey—and What Can I Offer Instead?
Why We Have to Minimize the Role of, but Not Abandon, the Classics

Why We Need to Incorporate Choice Reading

What the Blended Model Offers

What’s Next: Sparking Joy in Our Classes

CHAPTER TWO Getting Ready for the Blended Model
How to Set Up Your Classes So Students Really Read

Possible Follow-Up Steps

CHAPTER THREE Building a Blended Curriculum for Fiction-Based Units
Why Start With Fiction?

What’s Important to Know About This Planning Process Before Diving In?

Getting Started

How to Make Your Unit Pop and Avoid Potential Pitfalls

CHAPTER FOUR Building a Blended Curriculum for Nonfiction-Based Units
Why Nonfiction?

What’s Important to Know About Planning Nonfiction Units Before Diving In

What to Do When Your Students Are Choosing to Read Novels and It’s Time to Teach Nonfiction

How to Plan a Nonfiction Unit Based on Your Class Text

How to Make Your Unit Pop and Avoid Potential Pitfalls

Why What You Just Planned Is Important

CHAPTER FIVE What to Plan for Day to Day
Crafting Daily Lesson Plans

Breakdown of the Period or Block

Ten Minutes of Focused Teacher-Led Instruction

Transitioning Into Reading Time

What Students Are Doing in Addition to Reading: Writing, Thinking, and Questioning

Teach Readers to Demonstrate Their Thinking About Reading: Modeling

What to Do With Students’ Writing About Reading: Assessment and Differentiation

Closing Out the Class

Training Ground for Readers

CHAPTER SIX Bring Talk Into Your Blended Reading Classroom
Why We Need to Teach Our Students Ways to Talk About Books

How to Bring in Talk in Meaningful Ways

If They’re Not All Reading the Same Book, What Are Students Talking About?

Time for Shared Texts, Too

How Often We Incorporate Talk Into Reading Time

Why Talk Boosts Our Teaching

CHAPTER SEVEN Assessing Readers: Grading That’s Useful and User-Friendly
Formative Ongoing Assessments That Won’t Make You Hate Your Job

Summative Assessments

How to Stay Sane When Grading

CHAPTER EIGHT Building Teacher–Student Relationships Through the Blended Model
Why the Blended Model Opens Up Space for Powerful One-on-One Teaching

How to Talk to Students About Their Reading

What We Can Expect as a Result of Talking to Students About Reading

Final Words
We’re Ready to Embrace Change

Resource 1: Our Book Reviews: Sample Assignment for Sharing Choice Books

Resource 2: Technology Integration Ideas to Support Choice Reading

Resource 3: My Reading Goals: Student Sample

Resource 4: Bookmark Calendar Template

Resource 5: Sample Grade 10 Unit Plan: The Scarlet Letter

Resource 6: Unit Planning Template

Resource 7: Sample Grade 8 Unit Plan: The Outsiders

Resource 8: Sample Grade 11 Unit Plan: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

Resource 9: Reading Notebook Prompts: Transfer of Skills to Choice Books

Resource 10: Examples of Realistic Fiction Book Club Annotations and Analysis

Resource 11: Choice Read or Class Novel Check-In: How Do You Know They’re Really Reading?

Resource 12: Reading Notebook Rubric Sample 1

Resource 13: Reading Notebook Rubric Sample 2

Resource 14: Reading Notebook Rubric Sample 3

Resource 15: Sample Essay Assignment, Outline, and Rubric Using Choice Book

Resource 16: Sample Literary Analysis Essay Assignment for Choice Book



"There is so much to love about this book!  Grounded in the authority of classroom practice, it makes independent reading work in new ways by actively teaching and sharing how to read, and by leveraging the social power and pleasure of reading. The approach is based on an elegant principle of cognitive apprenticeship: meet students at their current state of being with their current interests and use this as the platform to help them outgrow themselves. The approach allows for authentic and democratic differentiation – through various materials, levels of support, groupings – while all students are working in complementary ways on a common project. This approach mirrors what expert adult readers do: they put texts into conversation with each other to make global meanings."

Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, Professor of English Education
Boise State University, Boise, Idaho

"Berit Gordon is the best word whisperer, lighting a love for words in even the most reluctant of readers and writers. Her techniques created an atmosphere of electricity in a classroom that had lost its spark for communication. Many books that I've read only speak to the strategy and provide anchor charts. Berit goes further and explains the what, why, how, and when of the strategy in use. This is key. Berit is key. For many of us, we know what we want our students to do. We just need a little direction to get there. Berit provides the map, serves as GPS, and leads us to the place where our classrooms are now abuzz with engaged readers and inspired writers."

Wendy Platt
Eau Claire High School, Columbia, South Carolina

"While I had spent over 20 years implementing book clubs and independent reading in my Language Arts classroom, I had never quite approached it in the same way Berit Gordon outlined in No More Fake Reading.   Now, my students are reading at least double the previous required amount, and they are thrilled with the large amount of choice.  I found it effortless to create a curriculum where I match in-class texts with independent reading.  The students find the more challenging texts enjoyable when sampling them rather than haranguing through the truly difficult ones or just reading spark notes!"

Rose Leonard, English Teacher
West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South, Princeton Junction New Jersey

"After attending an eye-opening workshop with Berit Gordon, I followed her lead and tried something new with my Freshmen College Prep Students.  I’d been teaching Great Expectations to this age group for years and it was always a challenge for them and for me.  The assigned nightly reading went unread, and if they did read, they did not understand it.  Every day felt exhausting, as I would re-teach the previous night’s assignment.  This year, using Berit’s ideas as a guide, I opted to use the novel as an in-class text, analyzing passages to teach close reading skills while the students chose books to read on their own … Students delved into these high interest, contemporary books and made consistent, meaningful connections between Great Expectations and their independent novels.  They wrote literary essays about their choice books, and took a test on Great Expectations, for which they received extremely high marks, demonstrating their mastery of a sophisticated (and previously dreaded!) text.  The experiment was a huge success!  Working through a complex text together with focused instruction enabled students to engage with a difficult book, and appreciate it in a way they never had before.  Interestingly, they enjoyed Dickens so much that I taught more of the book than I had originally planned!"

Ellin Glassband, High School Teacher
West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South, Princeton Junction New Jersey

"How can we inspire reading and critical thinking in a time of widespread student distraction and disengagement? Berit Gordon helps bridge the gap between theory and action with classroom-friendly strategies that work. Test them out, and like me, you may find your students begging for more time to read."

Jessica Miller, English Teacher and Literacy Coach
Keenan High School, Columbia, South Carolina