Literacy in the United States: Readers and Reading since 1880.
reviewed by E. Jennifer Monaghan - 1994
Title: Literacy in the United States: Readers and Reading since 1880.
Author(s): Carl F. Kaestle, Helen Damon-Moore, Lawrence C. Stedman, Katherine Tinsley
Publisher: Yale University Press, New Haven
ISBN: 0300054300, Pages: , Year: 1991
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Carl Kaestle and his colleagues (formerly his graduate students) have written an important book, a worthy winner of the History of Education Society's biennial Outstanding Book Award. In cleancut prose, free of either pedantry or hysteria, and in a voice that is admirably consistent across its multi-authored chapters, Kaestle analyzes what Americans read, how well they read, and what reading has meant to Americans across the span of the past century. He and his coauthors cover virtually all the existing usable research on adult and young adult readers, and introduce new explorations to boot. Throughout the book, their mastery of a daunting array of secondary sources is exemplary. After Kaestle's obligatory romp through literacy studies of earlier centuries and a discussion of relevant theoretical issues, he and Lawrence Stedman tackle the common perception that there is "an epidemic of functional illiteracy" (p. 75). Displaying an easy familiarity with social science methodology, they reexamine reading trends over the century. After analyzing measures such as then-and-now studies, achievement-test score... (preview truncated at 150 words.)
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