By Lois Huffman, Ph.D.
Like many members of the International Reading Association (IRA), I’m a regular reader of its journals―The Reading Teacher, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, and Reading Research Quarterly. These peer-reviewed periodicals publish high-quality literacy research which reflects the questions and practices of today’s educators (e.g., addressing Common Core State Standards, assessing text complexity, promoting deep comprehension). I typically recommend that the teachers I work with go to these resources first when investigating a literacy-related topic or concern.
However, since the late 1990s, I have also been an avid reader of the American Educator (AE) published quarterly by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). My youngest brother, who is a Title I reading teacher and AFT member in Ohio, introduced me to the journal. A list of some recent AE authors looks like a who’s who in the field of literacy―Marilyn Jager Adams, Isabel Beck, Andrew Biemiller, Susan Carreker, Nell Duke, Margaret McKoewn, Louisa Moats, Susan Newman, and Joseph Torgeson.
Over the years, AE has had several reading / content literacy-themed issues. Preeminent scholars from related disciplines, such as psychology and linguistics, also regularly contribute research and ideas of interest to teachers of reading. An example is Daniel Willingham, who writes the AE Ask the Cognitive Scientist feature. One of his most memorable and thought-provoking columns focused on “The Usefulness of Brief Instruction in Comprehension Strategies” (aft.org/pdfs/americaneducator/winter0607/CogSci.pdf).
Although my brother often shares his copy of American Educator with me (Thanks, Glen!), you do not need to be or know an AFT member to access the journal. Articles from more than 15 volumes of AE are archived at aft.org and available to anyone. You can also download selected articles from the current issue of AE at aft.org/newspubs/periodicals/ae/. I hope you will let your school / university colleagues know about this invaluable professional resource.
Lois Huffman is an active member of a local reading chapter, NCRA and IRA and chairs the She is a literacy instructor at N.C. State.