Prose Reader: Essays for Thinking, Reading and Writing, 12th edition

  • Kim Flachmann
  • Michael Flachmann

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ISBN-13:  9780135263358

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For first-year courses in Composition.

Helps students think more clearly and logically – in their minds, on paper, and on screens

Organized by rhetorical pattern, The Prose Reader offers prose models to inspire students’ own thinking and writing. Rhetorical strategies are introduced as methods of evaluating and processing information. Numerous discussion questions and writing assignments for each selection lead students from literal-level responses to interpretation and then analysis. These questions, and the essays they frame, encourage students to improve their writing through immersion in some of the best examples of professional prose available today. 

The 12th Edition is now available for Revel™. The Prose Reader’s popular overall format remains the same in Revel, refreshed with updated readings and activities. Other revisions are incorporated throughout, drawn from student and instructor feedback.

Revel™ is Pearson’s newest way of delivering our respected content. Fully digital and highly engaging, Revel replaces the textbook and gives students everything they need for the course. Informed by extensive research on how people read, think, and learn, Revel is an interactive learning environment that enables students to read, practice, and study in one continuous experience — for less than the cost of a traditional textbook.

NOTE: Revel is a fully digital delivery of Pearson content. This ISBN is for the Revel instant access. In addition to this access code, you will need a course invite link, provided by your instructor, to register for and use Revel.

Table of contents

Rhetorical Contents


1. Thinking Critically 

1.1 Levels of Thinking 

1.2 Building Bridges with Critical Thinking Questions 

1.3 The Reading–Writing Connection 

2. Reading Critically 

2.1 The Reading Process 

2.2 Reading Critically

3. Writing Critically

3.1 The Writing Process

3.2 Writing Critically


4. Description: Exploring Through the Senses

4.1 Defining Description

4.2 Thinking Critically Through Description

4.3 Reading Descriptive Essays

4.4 Writing Descriptive Essays

4.5 Student Essay: Description at work

4.6 Some Final Thoughts on Description

RAY BRADBURY Summer Rituals

The description of a simple, comforting ritual—the putting up of a front-porch swing in early summer—confirms the value of ceremony in the life of a small town.

KIMBERLY WOZENCRAFT Notes from the Country Club

Have you ever wondered what being in prison is like? Kimberly Wozencraft takes us for a no-nonsense tour of the “correctional institution” in Kentucky that was her home for more than a year.

ANNIE DILLARD Total Eclipse 

Have you ever seen a total eclipse? Annie Dillard describes the breathtaking details of her first experience with this complete blackout.


In this touching essay, Lillian Díaz-Imbelli explains the significance of her Abuelo in her life.

NASA  Mars

Do you think we will walk on Mars during your lifetime? This description of the planet will prepare you for the next phase in our exploration of space.

Chapter Writing Assignments

5. Narration: Telling a Story

5.1 Defining Narration

5.2 Thinking Critically Through Narration

5.3 Reading Narrative Essays

5.4 Writing Narrative Essays

5.5 Student Essay: Narration at Work

5.6 Some Final Thoughts on Narration

LEWIS SAWAQUAT  For My Indian Daughter

A Native American author responds to prejudice with a search for ethnic and cultural pride.

MAYA ANGELOU  New Directions

Deserted by her husband, a proud and determined Annie Johnson decides to “step off the road and cut . . . a new path” for herself.

LYNDA BARRY  The Sanctuary of School

In this essay, Lynda Barry explains how her school became a welcome retreat from the emotional turmoil at her home.


The only daughter in a large family, Sandra Cisneros feels overwhelming pride when her father praises her skill as a writer.

RUSSELL BAKER  The Saturday Evening Post

In this autobiographical essay, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Russell Baker offers a nostalgic look at his childhood days in the small town of Morrisonville, Virginia.

Chapter Writing Assignments

6. Example: Illustrating Ideas

6.1 Defining Illustration

6.2 Thinking Critically Through Examples

6.3 Reading Example Essays

6.4 Writing Example Essays

6.5 Student Essay: Examples at Work

6.6 Some Final Thoughts on Examples

CHRISTOPHER NELSON Why We Are Looking at the “Value” of College All Wrong

How can we measure the value of education? Christopher Nelson has some answers that do not involve economics.

RICHARD RODRIGUEZ Public and Private Language

Do you speak the same language in public that you do in private with your family and friends? Richard Rodriguez argues for the importance of both forms of communication.

CHRIS LEBRON I’m Black. Does America Have a Plan for My Life?

Chris Lebron wonders if he will be able to live a full life in a country where black lives are at risk every day.

RONI JACOBSON A Digital Safety Net

Can social media help detect mental illness? And if it can, how should we respond? Jacobson offers some thoughts on both of these issues.

BRENT STAPLES A Brother’s Murder

Brent Staples’s horrifying description of his brother’s inner-city killing lays bare the decay of urban America and its effect on the young African-American men who are imprisoned there.

Chapter Writing Assignments

7. Process Analysis: Explaining Step by Step

7.1 Defining Process Analysis

7.2 Thinking Critically Through Process Analysis

7.3 Reading Process Analysis Essays

7.4 Writing Process Analysis Essays

7.5 Student Essay: Process Analysis at Work

7.6 Some Final Thoughts on Process Analysis

JAY WALLJASPER Our Schedules, Our Selves

Are you bound to your smartphone, enslaved to your daily routine? Jay Walljasper argues that we’ve booked ourselves so tightly that “there’s no time left for those magic, spontaneous moments that make us feel most alive.”

JESSICA MITFORD Behind the Formaldehyde Curtain

In this chilling and macabre essay, celebrated “muckraker” Jessica Mitford exposes the greed and hypocrisy of the American mortuary business.

CAROLE KANCHIER Dare to Change Your Job and Your Life in 7 Steps

Change is always difficult. But Kanchier offers several ways to handle change sensibly, based on interviews with others who have made positive changes in their lives.

NICHOLAS CARR How Smartphones Hijack Our Lives

See if you still want to stay connected to your phone all day after reading this essay.

JAMES HAMBLIN Football Alters the Brains of Kids as Young as 8

Playing youth football dramatically changed Zackery Lystedt’s life forever. But key researchers don’t suggest that kids should stop playing football.

Chapter Writing Assignments

8. Division/Classification: Finding Categories

8.1 Defining Division/Classification

8.2 Thinking Critically Through Division/Classification

8.3 Reading Division/Classification Essays

8.4 Writing Division/Classification Essays

8.5 Student Essay: Division/Classification at Work

8.6 Some Final Thoughts on Division/Classification

KAREN LACHTANSKI Match the Right Communication Type to the Occasion

According to this author, good communication follows one important rule: The type of communication must fit the situation.

SARA D. GILBERT The Different Ways of Being Smart

People can be smart in different ways, which Gilbert explains in this essay with examples to support her classification system.

CAMILLE LAVINGTON Rapport: How to Ignite It

Understanding personality types can make it relatively easy for you to connect with other people. This essay will help you with this mission.

AMY TAN Mother Tongue

In this provocative and intriguing article, author Amy Tan examines the relationship between her mother’s “fractured” English and her own talent as a writer.


Ever stretched the truth? Stephanie Ericsson catalogs the 10 worst kinds of falsehoods, from “white lies” to “delusion.” Which is your favorite?

Chapter Writing Assignments

9. Comparison/ Contrast: Discovering Similarities and Differences

9.1 Defining Comparison/Contrast

9.2 Thinking Critically Through Comparison/Contrast

9.3 Reading Comparison/Contrast Essays

9.4 Writing Comparison/Contrast Essays

9.5 Student Essay: Comparison/Contrast at Work

9.6 Some Final Thoughts on Comparison/Contrast

AMY CHUA Excerpt from Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Why do so many Asian students excel in school? According to Amy Chua, it’s because their mothers are much more demanding than their Western counterparts.

JEAN TWENGE Millennials: The Greatest Generation or the Most Narcissistic?

Do millennials want to help others and contribute to society? Twenge sets out to settle the disagreement among researchers on these fundamental values in the lives of millennials.

MOTOKO RICH Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading?

Is surfing the Net ruining our minds? New York Times reporter Motoko Rich presents a balanced and intriguing analysis of the dangers and rewards of spending too much time online.

GLORIA STEINEM The Politics of Muscle

Feminist Gloria Steinem examines the extent to which strength means sexual power. 


What do you think are the main differences between grandmothers and mothers? Bombeck summarizes the answers to this question from a group of eight-year-olds.

Chapter Writing Assignments

10. Definition: Limiting the Frame of Reference

10.1 Defining Definition

10.2 Thinking Critically Through Definition

10.3 Reading Definition Essays

10.4 Writing Definition Essays

10.5 Student Essay: Definition at Work

10.6 Some Final Thoughts on Definition

KEVIN WHITELAW Defining Diversity: Beyond Race and Gender

In this essay, Whitelaw presents some ideas about how to define diversity so that it is more relevant to our culture today.


Robert Ramirez lovingly describes the “feeling of family” in a typical inner-city barrio.


Everyone agrees that all bullying must be stopped, but very few have any concrete suggestions for doing so. However, Svoboda offers some guidelines we need to consider for addressing virtual assault.

MARY PIPHER Beliefs About Families

What is a “family”? Psychologist Mary Pipher attempts to answer this intriguing question by examining the effect that different categories of family members have on our ability to function in the world around us.

DAVID HANSON Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is a dangerous type of drinking that Hanson claims is on the decline among current college students. Do you think society deals with drinking and youth responsibly?

Chapter Writing Assignments

11. Cause/Effect: Tracing Reasons and Results

11.1 Defining Cause/Effect

11.2 Thinking Critically Through Cause/Effect

11.3 Reading Cause/Effect Essays

11.4 Writing Cause/Effect Essays

11.5 Student Essay: Cause/Effect at Work

11.6 Some Final Thoughts on Cause/Effect

STEPHEN KING Why We Crave Horror Movies

Seen any good horror movies lately? Best-selling author Stephen King explains why we are so fascinated by films that appeal to our darker instincts.


An angry and frustrated Michael Dorris describes the long-term damage done to his adopted son, Adam, by the ravages of fetal alcohol syndrome.

DANA GIOIA On the Importance of Reading

Why should we read literature? “Let me count the ways,” says former National Endowment for the Arts chair Dana Gioia, as he details the intellectual and spiritual nourishment conferred on us by imaginative works of art.

JOE KEOHANE How Facts Backfire 

Are you sure you’re right about that? According to Joe Keohane, the more certain we are about our opinions, the more likely it is that we are relying on "beliefs" rather than “facts.”

ART MARKMAN Can Video Games Make You Smart (or At Least More Flexible)?

Can video games increase your ability to learn? Markman has some evidence that demonstrates some of the positive results of these games.

Chapter Writing Assignments

12. Argument and Persuasion: Inciting People to Thought or Action

12.1 Defining Argument and Persuasion

12.2 Thinking Critically Through Argument

12.3 Reading Argument Essays

12.4 Writing Argument Essays

12.5 Student Essay: Argument and Persuasion at Work

12.6 Some Final Thoughts on Argument and Persuasion

MARK BITTMAN Bad Food? Tax It, and Subsidize Vegetables

“What will it take to get Americans to change our eating habits?” asks Mark Bittman. Learn why the food industry continues to market unhealthy foods and how the government can help solve this problem.

MITCHELL BAKER Restoring the Public’s Trust in American Journalism

The concept of “fake news” is taking its toll on society today. But Baker has some suggestions for restoring trust in journalism throughout the country.

DAVE GROSSMAN We Are Training Our Kids to Kill

Retired Col. Dave Grossman questions the role models we are creating for our kids through violence on TV. In this essay, he challenges us to regain control of child abuse, racism, and poverty in American society.

SAMANTHA PUGSLEY How Language Impacts the Stigma Against Mental Health (And What We Must Do to Change It)

Are you aware of how people refer to mental health issues in their everyday lives? Are they always respectful of different mental illnesses in their references? Through this essay, Pugsley helps us build a sensitivity to these issues.

Opposing Viewpoints: Social Media

JOSH ROSE How Social Media Is Having a Positive Impact on Our Culture

SUSAN TARDANICO Is Social Media Sabotaging Real Communication?

When is social media constructive? When is it destructive? Being aware of its advantages and disadvantages is part of improving our ability to communicate in society.

Opposing Viewpoints: Postconviction DNA Testing 

TIM O’BRIEN Postconviction DNA Testing Should Be Encouraged 

JAMES DAO In Same Case, DNA Clears Convict and Finds Suspect 

PETER ROFF Postconviction DNA Testing Should Not Be Encouraged 

How reliable is DNA evidence in the courtroom? Tim O’Brien, James Dao, and Peter Roff debate the issue from three different sides.

Chapter Writing Assignments

13. Writing in Different Genres: Combining Rhetorical Modes



Set in the segregationist South, Wright’s short story illustrates the triumph of one brave man’s lust for learning over a society that seeks to keep him “in his place.”


MITCH LANDRIEU Speech on the Removal of Confederate Monuments in New Orleans

Landrieu reflects on the racial history of New Orleans and explains why the removal of Confederate monuments opens possibilities to New Orleanians of all races.


WALLACE STEVENS The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm

Stevens claims that a quiet house and calm world stimulate the search for meaning and truth.


Seamus Heaney, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995, describes through an evocative metaphor how digging into the turf is like digging into our thoughts—with the pen being the spade.



During a hot summer in Oakland, surrounded by drug dealers and social misfits, author Jessica Anya Blau investigates the mysterious relationship between art and life.



Where does this gate lead? Let your imagination be your guide.


R-1 Defining Documented Essays

R-2 Reading a Documented Essay

R-2.1 Preparing to Read a Documented Essay

R-2.2 Reading a Documented Essay

R-2.3 Rereading a Documented Essay

R-2.4 Checklist for Reading Documented Essays

R-2.5 Sample Documented Essay

ALLAN GOLDSTEIN “Our Brains Are Evolving to Multitask,” Not! The Illusion of Multitasking

R-3 Preparing to Write Your Own Documented Essay

R-3.1 Choosing a Topic

R-3.2 Writing a Good, Clear Thesis Statement

R-4 Finding and Evaluating Sources

R-4.1 Sources That Are Relevant, Reliable, and Recent

R-4.2 Consulting Academic Databases

R-4.3 Searching for and Evaluating Websites

R-4.4 Using the Library

R-5 Avoiding Plagiarism

R-5.1 Types of Materials

R-5.2 Acknowledging Your Sources

R-5.3 Direct Quotation, Paraphrase, and Summary

R-6 Staying Organized

R-6.1 Taking Notes on Sources

R-6.2 Making a Working Outline

R-7 Writing a Documented Essay

R-7.1 Writing the Introduction

R-7.2 Writing the Supporting Paragraphs

R-7.3 Using Your Sources

R-7.4 Writing Your Conclusion

R-7.5 Creating Your Title

R-8 Documenting

R-8.1 Introducing Your Sources

R-8.2 Documentation Format

R-8.3 MLA Versus APA

R-8.4 Sample Student Sources

R-9 Revising and Editing a Documented Essay

R-9.1 Revising

R-9.2 Editing

R-9.3 A Checklist for Writing Documented Essays

R-10 Student Essay: Documentation at Work



Index of Authors and Titles

Published by Pearson (February 1st 2019) - Copyright © 2020