Although the world has changed a lot since the first edition, the underlying premise of Developing Critical Reading Skills has not. The premise of the text is that good reading and clear thinking go hand in hand. For this reason, it emphasizes practice in sustained, analytical reading. Students first work with high-quality short passages before moving on to more substantive pieces of greater complexity. The readings explore diverse subjects: anthropology, sports, human behavior, politics, social policy, education, ethics, autobiography, personal reminiscence, the minority and immigrant experience, humor, satire, and so forth. The passages also reflect diverse writing styles, thereby giving students the experience of reading high-level prose by its best practitioners.
This book succeeds when students become more self-assured about their reading and when they recognize that reading well—with confidence, fluency, and enjoyment—is a significant part of their emotional and academic lives. As the book’s epigram by Tobias Wolff says: “A true piece of writing is a dangerous thing. It can change your life.” Students will feel genuine excitement when they encounter a writer who shows them a new way of looking at their lives and at the world. It is this feeling—this inspiration—that Deanne Spears imparts.