Reflections on Teaching Literacy

Selected Speeches of Margaret J. Early

Edited by:
Willa Wolcott, University of Florida (retired)

Published 2011

The late Margaret J. Early was a nationally renowned educator in the field of English education and reading, a past president of the National Council of Teachers of English, an author and an editor herself, and the recipient of many awards. The book Reflections on Teaching Literacy: Selected Speeches of Margaret J. Early, edited by Willa Wolcott, contains fifteen of her speeches given during the 1970s and 1980s, two important decades for the English profession. In each address Dr. Early probes, summarizes, and critiques the developments she sees occurring in the teaching of literacy. Her speeches are warm, chatty, and thought-provoking, providing both an historical overview of the issues involved and the immediacy of her perspective as she tackles possible solutions to these issues—many of which continue to be very relevant.

The speeches are enhanced by an in-depth, thoughtful “Foreword” written by Ben Nelms, a former editor of The English Journal and a pre-eminent figure in English education, as he places Dr. Early’s speeches in the larger context of the changes within the profession itself. A two-part “Afterword” written by Jane Townsend and Barbara Pace, current faculty members at the University of Florida, explores the extent to which Dr. Early’s speeches are linked to practices in teaching literacy today.

Acknowledgments. Preface. Foreword: Margaret J. Early, Ben F. Nelms. Chronology of the Professional Career of Margaret J. Early. In the Catbird’s Seat, California Reading Educators, October 1974. Anew Each Day, NCTE Presidential Address, November 1974. The Pleasure Principle: Making it Work for Reading, Midwest Wisconsin IRA, September 1977. Issues in Teaching and Learning Language, Concordia College Reading Conference, June 15, 1978. Developing a Friendly Attitude Toward Print, Utah IRA, October 6, 1978. Educational Priorities in a Technological Society, Honors Convocation, Syracuse University, January 30, 1979. Is Illiteracy the Disease? Is Literature the Cure? Raleigh, North Carolina, March 2–3, 1979. What’s News in Reading? Wisconsin Spring Conference, 1980. Shared Responsibilities for the New Literacy, Iowa English Council, April 11, 1980. Acting on Insights from the Research Base: 1956–1980, St. Louis IRA, May, 1980. Reading as Access, Baltimore College Reading Association, October 30, 1980. What We’ve Learned from Where We’ve Been, NCTE Selected Papers, November 1985. Knowing What to Do—And Doing It, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, June 20, 1988. Literacy: Emerging, Developing, Reaching New Heights, Cincinnati, October 26, 1989. Clock Watching, Convocation, University of Florida, May 3, 1990. Afterword Part 1—“Literacy Is a Means”: Margaret Early Today, Jane S. Townsend. Afterword Part 2—Literacy as a Practice: Margaret Early and English Language Arts Today, Barbara G. Pace. Appendix: Readings for Children or Young People Cited by Dr. Early.