Textbooks carry their own pedagogy and function like a co-instructor, one that can turn a teaching experience from rewarding to burdensome. Anyone who has taught for any length of time knows the herculean task of lumbering gamely week after week through a semester with a textbook that’s just not working. How, then, can one avoid choosing an unworkable textbook and also guide graduate students under one’s charge toward making textbook choices that work?
This presentation offers a template for making pedagogically conscious textbook choices for both language and non-language courses, and teaching graduate students to do the same. It briefly explains why textbook choices are sometimes limited, provides a checklist of pedagogical considerations for making the best choices (e.g., content—both what is and what is not included; factual accuracy; user-friendliness of layout; level of instruction; tone and potential intrusiveness of authorial voice; handling of interpretation and scholarly debate; illustrations and maps; availability of digital versions, ancillaries, student aids, and guides), and proposes options for improving classroom experience when the perfect textbook is not available. The conclusion looks at present and possible future innovations in textbooks and suggests how teaching about textbook pedagogy can easily and beneficially be incorporated into every graduate level course, instead of (or in addition to) being taught separately in a pedagogy course. A handout will accompany the presentation.