Ken Goodman

Ken Goodman, Ph.D., 92, died March 12, 2020.

A reading researcher and professor emeritus at the University of Arizona, Dr. Goodman was considered the founding father of the whole language approach to reading. He spent his earliest years in Chicago, moving to Detroit when he was 7 and graduating from Northwestern High School at age 15. He worked in Detroit auto plants in the summers as a union organizer. After attending the University of Michigan, he moved to Los Angeles, where he met his wife of 67 years, Yetta, when they were both Jewish Community Center camp counselors. He finished his bachelor’s degree in economics at UCLA, earned a master’s degree in education and became a junior high teacher. He returned to UCLA for his doctorate.

Dr. Goodman and Yetta, with their three daughters, moved to Detroit in 1962. He taught at Wayne State University and founded the field of miscue analysis research. He and his wife joined the department of language, reading, and culture at UArizona in 1975. He was honorary past president of the Whole Language Umbrella board.

He produced numerous professional books and articles, including “What’s What in Whole Language” and “On Reading.” His children’s book, “The Smart One,” is based on his immigrant father’s shtetl life in Smorgon, Lithuania (now Belarus).

The AJP wrote about Goodman in 2017; see

Survivors include his wife, Yetta; daughters Debi (Cheryl) Goodman of Hempstead, New York; Karen Goodman of Edmonton, Alberta, and Wendy Goodman of Tucson; seven grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held in the spring or summer.

Memorial contributions may be made to HIAS ( or Literacies and Languages for All (