La Vergne Rosow

True case studies of adults and children as the author taught them to read and write.

"In Forsaken Hands offers an exciting new dimension for literacy tutors to consider as they work to empower their learners, to help them become independent readers."
--Ruth Colvin, Founder Literacy Volunteers of America

"Dr. Rosow presents cutting edge ideas and practices in a most readable and conversational text. Without question, she has fashioned a fascinating journey through illiteracy to literacy, and the theory behind it, utilizing case studies. Nicely done!"
--John F. Dean, Ed.D., Orange County
Superintendent of Schools
Former Executive Secretary,
California Reading Association

Widespread illiteracy and the failure to address it at the primary and secondary school levels galvanized Rosow into experimenting with her theory that learners must be taught individually, that a single method cannot be imposed on every student. . . . Her case studies document remarkable changes; the students design their own programs and learn to control their emotions.

--Publishers Weekly

In Forsaken Hands: How Theory Empowers Literacy Learners

If you could speak a language, any language, by the age of five, you had enough brain power to do anything. You certainly had enough brain power to read and write very well.

If you had the brainpower to read and write very well by the age of five, you can certainly do it now.

La Vergne Rosow

This book is for anyone who is interested in helping others learn to read.

Literacy volunteers, reading teachers, librarians, tutors, and caring others will learn language and methods secrets of professionals in the fields of literacy and language.


1. Literacy Everywhere, but Not for All
2. The Roots of Disempowerment
3. Henry: The Training Program Pro
4. Arthur: Disempowered in the Extreme
5. Madonna: In Search of a Childhood
6. Danny (and Charlie): It Runs in the Family
7. Reynaldo, Beau, and Jonathan: Three Perspectives at Once
8. The Fugitives
9. The Power of Theory

La Vergne Rosow's Annotated List of Good Books Appendixes: A. The Affective Filter and Learning Problems
B. Summarizing Ray C. Rist
C. California Adult Literacy Campaign Adult Learner Questionnaire
D. Reading Aloud to Your Children

In Forsaken Hands takes you behind the scenes, makes you privy to the thoughts and emotions of older children and adults who are learning to read and write.

Most of La Vergne Rosow's students start out convinced of their stupidity. But through Rosow's approach- teaching literacy and language acquisition theory as a vehicle for teaching nonreaders to read and write- they begin to understand why they didn't learn in the first place and why literacy doesn't have to remain a brass ring beyond their reach.

Literacy learners, Rosow maintains, become empowered by the "inside information" on learning to read and write, otherwise known as theory.

Each chapter of this book is a doorway into a private world, a world often steeped in humiliation and terrible secrets. Each world is different- isolated from all others- yet alike, as it reveals the day-to-day entrapments its illiterate inhabitant faces as he or she fights to survive in a literate world. If we fostered the power of theory in every classroom, Rosow submits, anyone who could talk would be able to read and write.

Selected Works

Classical Literature, Reference, Teen, Adult, and ESL Readers, Literacy, Annotated Bibliography and Teaching Ideas
Easy to Challenging titles will help those who want to discover or rediscover the books English readers have always loved.
Non-Fiction; literacy case studies; adult and family literacy
Theory-to-practice connections for pre-literate and low literate adults and children.
Reference and guide for teaching reluctant readers, new readers, and English language learners
This is a collection of great book titles sorted according to themes that appeal to adult and teen readers. Themes progress from picturebooks to challenging texts.