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Paperback 480 pp.
16 tables; 11 figures; 9 photos, 7.5" x 9.5"



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Imprint: OUP Canada

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Becoming an Active Reader

A Complete Resource for Reading and Writing, Second Edition

Eric Henderson

Becoming an Active Reader offers a three-in-one approach that combines a guide to rhetorical writing, an engaging reader, and a detailed grammar handbook, all in a single volume. The advice and exercises found throughout help students understand and apply the most effective reading and writing strategies, while the 39 thought-provoking readings encourage meaningful interaction with the written word. Annotated sample student essays, individual and collaborative exercises, checklists, and grammar hints appear throughout to help students navigate effective strategies for reading and writing.

Readership : Becoming an Active Reader is intended for college courses primarily in introductory English composition and communication, and can be used in courses in academic writing and introduction to essay writing.


  • "The readings are relevant to the lives of the students and address the interests of students in a variety of disciplines. . . . They illustrate a variety of writing styles that demonstrate skills students can emulate."
    --Karen Pike, Conestoga College

  • "I like that several of the readings address employability skills and information that our students need to be successful in the workplace. It allows us to address the hidden curriculum in the guise of communication and literacy development."
    --Julie Morris, Sheridan College

1. Essay Writing Basics
From Blank Page to Thesis
Drafting the Essay
2. Writing Summaries
Times and Places for Summaries
The Stand-Alone Summary: The Précis
3. Rhetorical Analyses
Analyzing Texts
Rhetorical Analysis and Essay Type
Organizing a Rhetorical Analysis
The Introduction
The Body Paragraphs
The Conclusion
Sample Critical Analysis
Sample Critical Response
4. The Art of Argument
Argument and Aristotle
Two Modern Models of Argument: Rogers and Toulmin
Purposes for Arguing
Opinions versus Arguments
Claims in Argument
Examples and Illustrations
Anecdotal Evidence
Personal Experience
Facts, Statistics, and Scientific Studies
Two Kinds of Reasoning
Argumentative Strategies
Rebuttal Strategies
Organizing Your Argument
Sample Student Argumentative Essay: "Cultural Appropriation: How Racism Became Trendy" by Kirsten Saikaly
5. Writing the Research Paper
Coming up with a Topic
Preparing for Research
Research Proposals
Sample Proposal: Research Proposal for "The Impacts of Relational Bullying on School-Age Children in Comparison to Physical Bullying" by Bethany Truman
Sample Proposal
Recording Important Information
Research Resources for Today's Student
Selecting Resources for Your Research Topic
Using Credible Sources
Writing the Rough Draft: Integrating Sources
Writing the Final Draft: Documenting Sources
Sample Student Body Paragraph
Major Documentation Styles
Sample Student Expository Essay (APA): "Relational Aggression: Patterns and Motives Underlying Bullying and Its Impact on Students" by Bethany Truman
6. Interacting with Texts
Active Reading
Reading Purpose
Selective Reading: Scanning and Focused Reading
Word Meanings
7. Critical Thinking
Inferences and Critical Thinking
Critical Thinking as a Process
Critical Situations for Critical Thinking
8. An Introduction to Reading Texts
Kinds of Texts
The Reading-Writing Connection
Academic versus Non-Academic Writing
Breaking Down and Putting Together
9. Conventions of Non-Academic Writing
What Are Conventions?
Analysis or Synthesis?
Personal Experience in Non-Academic Writing
Features of Non-Academic Writing
Journalistic and Scholarly Writing: A Symbiotic Relationship
10. Conventions of Academic Writing
What Is Academic Writing?
Audience: Who Reads Academic Writing?
Features of Academic Writing
Finding Information in Academic Essays
Section I First-Person Singular
Shannon Rupp: "I'll Take My Coffee with Fiction, Thanks"
Madeline Sonik: "Flush"
Andrew Irvine: "Is Scientific Progress Inevitable?"
Ian Brown: "I'm Glad I Never Had to Decide Whether My Strange, Lonely Boy Ought to Exist"
Lynn Cunningham: "Giving Up the Ghost: When It Comes to Quitting Smoking, You're on Your Own"
Section II Are the Generations Alike or Unalike?
Erica Alini: "Generation Spend"
Dorothy Woodend: "Generation Velcro"
Adrian Mack and Miranda Nelson: "Vancouver Hockey Riot Is a Symptom of a Larger Problem"
Unlinka Rublack: "The Birth of Power Dressing"
Renée Wilson: "In Defence of the iGeneration"
Section III Have We Reached Our Limit with Technology?
Jim Harris: "The UnAtomic Age"
Navneet Alang: "Stop Believing in the 'World-Changing' Power of Every New Gadget"
Nik Harron: "Fully Destructible: Exploring a Personal Relationship with Nature Through Video Games>"
Cory Doctorow: "You DO Like Reading Off a Computer Screen"
Bryan Appleyard: "Distraction"
Scott Feschuk: "The Future of Machines with Feelings"
Avivia Romm: "Stop Killing the Good Guys!"
Section IV What Does It Take to Be a Leader?
Natasha Milijasevic: "The Genius of the Generalist: Why Environmental Studies is Essential to the Workforce We Need Now"
Steven J. Tepper: "Thinking 'Bigger Than Me' in the Liberal Arts"
Joanna Pachner: "Do You Have the Brain of a CEO?"
Joe Castaldo: "Steal Your Success"
Rachel Mendleson: "Raising Young Einsteins"
Section V What Is Critical Thinking?
Robert Gibson: "Bullshit"
Doug Saunders: "When a Cellphone Beats a Royal Flush"
Mary Midgley: "The Selfish Metaphor"
Robert J. Steinberg: "Slip-Sliding Away Down the Ethical Slope"
John Horgan: "Does Peace Have a Chance?"
Danny Chivers: "Debunking the Myths: Myths about the Basic Science"
Alberto Manguel: "Burning Mistry"
Bruce M. Hicks: "The Undiscovered Province"
Section VI Voices from the Academy
Steve Loughnan, Brock Bastian, & Nick Haslam: "The Psychology of Eating Animals" (annotated essay)
Andrew D. Pinto: "Denaturalizing 'Natural' Disasters: Haiti's Earthquake and the Humanitarian Impulse"
Daniel M. Wegner: "How to Think, Say, or Do Precisely the Worst Thing for Any Occasion"
Harold Herzog: "The Impact of Pets on Human Health and Psychological Well-Being: Fact, Fiction, or Hypothesis?"
Simine Vazire & Erika N. Carlson: "Others Sometimes Know Us Better Than We Know Ourselves"
Erin R. Whitchurch et al.: "'He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not...': Uncertainty Can Increase Romantic Attraction"
Daniel Rosenfield et al.: "Canadian Lifestyle Choices: A Public Health Failure"
Jonathan Gray: "Coming Up Next: Promos in the Future of Television and Television Studies"
Matthew P.A. Clark and Brian D. Westerberg: "How Random Is the Toss of a Coin?"
11. Grammar Fundamentals
The Parts of Speech and Their Functions
12. Punctuation and Apostrophes
Joining Independent Clauses
Punctuation within Sentences (Internal Punctuation)
Miscellaneous Uses of the Comma
Other Punctuation: Question Marks, Dashes, and Parentheses
13. Agreement, Pronoun, Modifier, and Parallelism Errors
Subject-Verb Agreement
Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement
Pronoun Reference, Consistency, and Case
Modifier Errors
Answers to Exercises

Instructor's Manual
For each chapter:
- Answers to Part III exercises
- Answers to post-reading questions for selected readings
- Activities to address common writing challenges (NEW!)
PowerPoint Slides
- Lecture outline slides
Student Study Guide
- Practice quizzes
- Documentation guidelines (MLA, APA, CMS)
E-book ISBN 9780199027088

Eric Henderson is an active author with Oxford University Press Canada, where his other books include Writing by Choice, 3e (2015), The Active Reader, 3e (2015), The Empowered Writer, 2e (2014), and Short Fiction & Critical Contexts (co-edited with J. Hancock, 2009). He has also published articles in leading journals such as Canadian Literature, English Studies in Canada, and Contemporary Literary Criticism. He teaches in the Department of English at the University of Victoria, where his teaching interests include composition, rhetoric, and style.

The Active Reader - Eric Henderson
Writing by Choice - Eric Henderson
The Empowered Writer - Kathleen M. Moran and Eric Henderson
Making Sense - Margot Northey and Joan McKibbin
The Canadian Writer's Handbook - The late William E. Messenger, Jan de Bruyn, The late Judy Brown and Ramona Montagnes
The Concise Canadian Writer's Handbook - The late William E. Messenger, Jan de Bruyn, The late Judy Brown and Ramona Montagnes
Paperback Oxford Canadian Thesaurus - Edited by Robert Pontisso
Paperback Oxford Canadian Dictionary - Edited by Katherine Barber

Special Features

  • Canadian readings, examples, and sample documents make this an ideal text for teaching post-secondary reading and writing in this country.
  • Focus on critical thinking encourages students to think about the choices they make when reading and writing rather than following set rules.
  • Classroom-tested content ensures that only material students have found engaging and informative has been included in the text.
  • Cross-disciplinary readings--from cultural studies, education, health services, business, and more--will appeal to students with varying interests and academic backgrounds.
  • Contemporary readings, all from the past decade, ensure that topics are timely and relevant to students.
  • Covers both academic and non-academic reading and writing, preparing students for any writing situation.
  • Annotated sample essays help students recognize the strengths and weaknesses in their own work.
  • Student-friendly pedagogy encourages active learning of key concepts.
  • --Pre- and post-reading questions encourage students to think critically and engage with the readings.
  • --Running marginal glossary defines key terms and concepts on the same page they are first mentioned, helping students fully understand the material.
  • --Individual and collaborative exercises help students strengthen their skills while encouraging participation and active learning.
  • --Special topic boxes, including checklists, review tools, FAQs, and how-to guides, offer students valuable guidance.
New to this Edition
  • 17 new readings provide accessible, timely selections on issues that are relevant to students--such as the relationship between nature and video games, defending the iGeneration, and what it takes to be a leader.
  • Readings have been reorganized into new sections--including first-person essays, academic readings, and four sections which pose questions that are answered by the essays within that particular section.
  • --Are the Generations Alike or Unalike? (Section II)
  • --Have We Reached Our Limit with Technology? (Section III)
  • --What Does It Take to Be a Leader? (Section IV)
  • --What Is Critical Thinking? (Section V)
  • New sample assignments throughout the text--including a summary, critical analysis and response, and argumentative essay--give students models of effective writing.
  • Expanded coverage of APA and MLA style gives students access to the most current documentation requirements.
  • A new annotated academic reading guides students through noteworthy elements of an essay.