Nila Banton Smith (1889–1976) was a teacher, administrator and specialist in reading instruction. For her doctoral dissertation at Columbia University she wrote An Historical Analysis of American Reading Instruction. In 1934 Silver Burdett published American Reading Instruction, an important contribution to the history of reading education in the United States. Smith's publishing career spanned the years from 1922 to 1976. A special edition of American Reading Instruction was reissued in 2002 which attests to the importance of the historical research Smith undertook. An added feature is a new final chapter on American Reading Instruction since 1967 authored by P. David Pearson, a leader in contemporary reading education.
To honor Nila Banton Smith the International Reading Association offers two grants in her name. One is an award to honor middle or high school teachers who have translated theory and research into practice (http://www.reading.org/association/awards/teachers_smith_award.html). The second award is to support a member of the International Reading Association working on a dissemination project for the educational community (http://www.reading.org/association/awards/research_smith_grant.html)
She published a popular reading guide in 1957 titled "Speed Reading Made Easy". It was reissued several times up until at least 1987. The practical approach goes beyond the mechanical practices of eye movements. The book includes advice on keywords, paragraph analysis, article types and skimming. This early work remains a useful guide to how to read more efficiently.
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“The vitality of a new movement in Art must be gauged by the fury it arouses.”
—Logan Pearsall Smith (18651946)