"Poverty has everything to do with schooling—how it is theorized, how it is organized, how it runs." So says author Patrick Shannon in this provocative look at how social, political, and economic contexts inform the literacy education field. Here we see how competing representations of poverty underlie our assumptions about IQ testing, textbook content, national standards, standardized achievement tests, volunteerism, school/business partnerships, and many other contemporary issues in education. The author lays out a careful critique of initiatives like America Reads and popular texts like William Bennett’s The Book of Virtues and Hernstein and Murray’s The Bell Curve.

Uncovering the inherent biases in these approaches, Shannon argues that we have perpetuated a system geared toward the protection of property over the well-being of people. While Reading Poverty offers no panacea, it does offer new tools for analyzing our goals for reading education. Undergraduate students, graduate researchers, pre-service and in-service teachers, parents, indeed anyone interested in education reform, will be intrigued by Shannon’s new theory of poverty, which seeks to blur traditional class lines among Americans in order to direct us toward a more just and equitable society.