Leadership for Literacy: Research-Based Practice, PreK-3

Reviewed by Linda Gray Smith

Superintendent, Worth County RIII Public Schools, Grant City, Mo.


As we strive to educate each child to truly reach his or her potential, literacy is a major component of that education. Leadership for Literacy: Research-Based Practice, PreK-3 by Joseph Murphy, professor of education at Vanderbilt University, provides a meta-analysis of the existing knowledge in the literacy field.


While the author skillfully synthesizes the available research from the past 20 years, it is a difficult book for a superintendent as a system manager to use. A more beneficial audience is building principals who seek information about effective literacy instruction, organizational models, staff development and connections with parents.


As a building leader, one could use the table of contents to guide the use of the book as a reference. Murphy says, “There is now widespread agreement that early reading instruction … should contain instruction explicitly designed to stimulate phonological awareness,” laying to rest the phonics versus whole language debate.


Murphy addresses the way to improve reading skills. Additional time is important as long as the time is used in “high-quality assisted reading time and less time alone especially in unmonitored seatwork with workbooks and worksheets.”


Murphy’s Leadership for Literacy would be valuable to educators who evaluate literacy instruction in the primary grades and to college professors who teach courses on literacy development.


(Leadership for Literacy: Research-Based Practice, PreK-3 by Joseph Murphy, Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, Calif., 2004, 241 pp. with index, $74.95 hardcover, $34.95 softcover)