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Middlesex County College Professors Author Three-Volume Reading Series

May 6, 2010

A series of books on reading by two professors at Middlesex County College may enhance the teaching of reading on the high school and college level. This innovative series, “Spotlight on Reading” volumes 1-3, builds on the excellent reading program offered by the College’s English Department. It was written by Professors Shirley Wachtel and Helena Swanicke and will be available in the fall. The series is being published by Kendall Hunt.

“We’ve been teaching reading for a long time,” Professor Wachtel said. “We’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. We’ve learned from our colleagues and from our students. Helena and I truly love what we do, and these books are all about helping students – both at Middlesex and at other colleges – succeed.”

The books are engaging and seek to motivate students to read by including profiles of celebrities and sports stars. Students also read and analyze news stories and essays. A special section, “Getting the Picture,” asks them to examine a photo and write about it.

“Spotlight on Reading” includes essays written by Middlesex County College students; the two authors also received input from their faculty colleagues.

Carol Fox, an adjunct professor at Middlesex, was asked to review the books before publication.

“It is a great book,” Professor Fox said. “It is a comprehensive series of reading texts that depicts continuity in the skills necessary for college-level reading. It does so with a connecting, advancing technique. Each volume connects to the next, but can also be used separately. I personally feel a text like this should be used for any incoming college student. We can all stand to review necessary skills; we can’t get by without reading skills.”

While the entire series runs about 1500 pages, it is divided into manageable sections that entice the reader. Each volume builds on the skills developed in the preceding one. All contain work on vocabulary, study skills and critical reading skills. The final volume has longer, more complex essays and introduces the concepts of argument and persuasion.

Professor Wachtel has taught reading at Middlesex for 20 years and is the author of five children’s books, as well as “The Story of Blima – A Holocaust Survivor,” which recounts her mother’s story.

Professor Swanicke has taught reading for 17 years at Middlesex, and she has also taught at the elementary and junior high levels. She has presented at numerous college workshops and conferences.

“This series covers reading in the high school and college level from A-Z,” Professor Swanicke said. “You can follow the chapters and use it as both a curriculum guide and workbook. It is a complete reading program.”

She said that many reading books now in use were written by authors who are not in the classroom working with students.

“We have a different style compared to others,” she said.

For more information contact Tom Peterson at 732-906-2512