In every case, it is the reader who reads the sense, it is the reader who grants or recognizes in an object, place or event a certain possible readability, it is the reader who must attribute meaning to a system of signs, and then decipher it. We all read ourselves and the world around us in order to glimpse what and where we are. We read to understand, or to begin to understand. We cannot do but read. Reading, almost as much as breathing, is our essential function. -- Alberto Manguel (1996) Those of us who "cannot do but read" are part of a culture of letters dating from the first Sumerian tablets of the fifth millennium B.C. to Greek scrolls; from the codices of St. Augustine to CD-ROMs. Every word read is part of a history of language and sense filled with tales of anarchy, censorship, triumph, and passion. To read and write, then, is to become part of that history and, moreover, to learn from the voices of the past. Just as the printing press and mass production of books, plays, and pamphlets revolutionized conceptions of literacy in the Renaissance, today new communications technologies are changing the ways we think about what it means to be literate. At the same time, researchers are calling attention to social, cultural, and multicultural dimensions of literacy, leading many to assert that literacy should no longer be defined as mere reading and writing but something much more complex, fluid, and multifaceted. In this new edition ofReaders, Teachers, Learnerswe draw significant inspiration from current theorizing about multiple literacies. This is done while continuing to show deference to and honor the lifeworlds of middle and secondary school teachers who struggle daily to make their instruction more responsive to the needs of young adults. Acknowledging that each literate act has historical, sociological, political, and cultural connections, we remain true in this edition to the primary thrust of the three that have come before it, which has been to emphasize the importance of traditional print literacy as a foundation for discourse flexibility and critical thinking. We were reminded recently of how far our sophisticated literate sensibilities can take us after reading descriptions by successful women of their earliest memories of critical book experiences (Copper-Mullin & Coye, 1998). Books about Madeline, the Cat in the Hat, Gigi the Merry-Go-Round Horse, and the Bobbsey Twins marked entry points into literacy for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Civil Rights activist Ruby Bridges, NASA astronaut Dr. Ellen Baker, and Pulitzer Prize winner Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. From the first stirrings of excitement brought about by these print encounters as children, they have traveled vast distances from their points of entry on a transformative journey of self-discovery and professional accomplishment. It is this same journey we hope all young adults are offered the opportunity to take. It is a journey that cannot be short-circuited, as each of us knows who began so modestly down our own literate paths. And now after years of traditional print explorations we have come to appreciate the true benefits of our literate journeys--expanded consciousness, discourse flexibility, intellectual curiosity, and the ability to read and understand the stories, histories, and philosophies of the ages. To confer the bounties of expansive literacy ability and sustain and engage today's middle and secondary students in reading and writing is no mean feat. Adolescents have grown up in a world in which information is electronically and visually mediated--so much so that the very need for print literacy is becoming increasingly challenged. We agree with Stephen Hearst (1998) who notes: Pictures work supremely well as symbols and expressions of our deepest feelings, but language is the indispensable tool in the exercise of reason, in the precise expression ofBrozo, William G. is the author of 'Readers, Teachers, Learners Expanding Literacy Across the Content Areas', published 2002 under ISBN 9780130978554 and ISBN 0130978558.