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Literacy: Where to find reading help for a child


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young girl reading

Free Publications: Shining Stars Series - These free publications from EdPubs show how Parents can help toddlers thru children in the 3rd grade level learn to read. To order, download or view, visit and enter "Shining Stars" in the search box near the top of the page.

A Different Kind of Home Schooling - The son of poor laborers in rural Mexico, Ocario Gonzalez doesn't remember his parents ever helping with his schoolwork. After struggling with his studies for a few years, Gonzalez left school at 12. Now the 42-year-old South Los Angeles factory worker is trying to break that cycle with his daughter, Carolina.

 Kindergarten - Third Grade Literacy

With Help, Kids Keep Reading After Age 8 - Some 92 percent of children enjoy reading books for fun, but their reading time takes a steep dive after age 8. The main cause: They can't find books they like and parents aren't helping them with book selection as much as they did when the kids were small.


A Page Turner For Parents Who Want Their Child To Read - Anyone who has struggled to help a child learn to love books will find "Deconstructing Penguins" full of new ideas.


Lansing Educators Take Reading Tools on the Road - Door-to-door visits part of plan to help struggling students. Lansing parents, be aware: If your child is in kindergarten or first-, second- or third-grade, an educator may come knocking on your door. Ingham County's largest school district formally introduced a new door-to-door initiative last week called, "On the Road for Reading." It requires several educators to spend a half-day per week visiting homes of young struggling readers.

Partnership For Reading - The Partnership for Reading is offering free literacy resources for educators, teacher educators, administrators, policymakers, support agencies and families. Among the resources now available are: a new booklet for parents to help their children in grades K-3 become successful readers; a book geared to parents of children from birth through preschool; and a guide to help teachers become discerning consumers of education programs and materials. All of these documents and more can be downloaded for free. [Source: PEN]


publication coverPut Reading First
Helping Your Child Learn to Read - A Parent Guide

This brochure, designed for parents, provides a quick overview of the findings of the National Reading Panel and gives ideas for what to expect from a school's reading program based on evidence from the research (preschool through grade 3). The brochure also suggests ways parents can reinforce reading instruction at home with everyday activities and interactions.  Download this document -- PDF or HTML (accessible format) or order this document in print

publication coverA Child Becomes a Reader
Proven Ideas for Parents from Research--Kindergarten through Grade Three
The road to becoming a reader begins the day a child is born and continues through the end of third grade. At that point, a child must read with ease and understanding to take advantage of the learning opportunities in fourth grade and beyond. This booklet offers advice for parents of children from grades K-3 on how to support reading development at home, and how to recognize effective instruction in their children's classrooms. 
Download the color PDF version; black and white PDF version;
HTML (accessible format); or order this document

publication coverPut Reading First
The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read

This 64-page booklet provides teachers with a summary of the findings of the National Reading Panel from its review of reading research. Organized by major reading topic for kindergarten through grade 3 (phonemic awareness instruction, phonics instruction, vocabulary instruction, fluency instruction, and text comprehension instruction), the booklet lists the main findings from the research, suggests how the findings can be translated to practice, and answers some frequently asked questions about each topic.  Download this document -- PDF or HTML (accessible format) or order this document in print


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 Featured Websites


Featured Resource: - Looking for a break from the doldrums of creating yet another e-commerce website (that's just what the world needs), or email server application (oooh, those are doubly exciting), Ron Hornbaker sought to create a community site that would be the first of its kind, that would give back to the world at large, and that would provide warm fuzzy feelings whenever he worked on it. was the result, a website that encourages everyone to “release” their favorite books “into the wild” and then track the books’ travels worldwide.


Red Flag Screening - Give your child an informal reading test to help evaluate his/her level of reading accuracy. The test is based on materials from the State of Texas. "Our screening is designed to provide parents with a tool that can help confirm or negate their suspicions, through the use of objective & widely accepted standards as applied to state approved grade level material. The results of the screening can then be used as one more piece of the puzzle in determining whether to seek further help or testing."


Featured Website: Free Phonics Lessons Online


Jel Publishing: Books Designed for Children with Disabilities


Scientific Learning: A new way to learn - The Fast ForWord family of products develops the critical thinking, listening, and reading skills that are necessary for success in the classroom, the workplace and in everyday life. The Fast ForWord family of products use neuroscience principles to create an optimal learning environment that enables you to: Simultaneously develop multiple skill sets to maximize learning, Identify reading and language difficulties, and Attack the underlying causes of these difficulties.


The Adolescent Literacy Web Topic is packed full of research-based information on literacy and is now available on the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET) Web site.

America's Literacy Directory: Where to find Reading & Literacy Help for Children - click here.


America's Literacy Directory: Where to find Reading & Literacy Help for Adults - click here.


Starfall - Help your child learn to read; includes free reading activities!



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 Articles About Literacy


Retired Teacher Reveals He Was Illiterate Until Age 48 - John Corcoran graduated from college and taught high school for 17 years without being able to read, write or spell.


Curriculum Helps Jolt Reading Skills - A Hickman Mills High student earns national honors for the improvements he has shown with Read 180. Kevin Bowen was a floater, one of those students who drift into high school reading no better than a third-grader. But now the 15-year-old Hickman Mills High School freshman is an all-star, one of nine students in a nationwide spotlight for their dramatic reading gains. The recognition came from publishing giant Scholastic Inc. It developed the Read 180 curriculum credited with turning Kevin into a ninth-grade reader within a matter of months. Some local districts are spending upwards of half a million dollars on the program--and that doesn't even include personnel costs. But administrators swear by its results.

Parents Learn Alongside Kids in Literacy Program - Jose Perez is a fidgety 5-year-old and his teacher changes activities often to accommodate his attention span. Yesterday, his mother, Sylvia, was at his left elbow for 40 minutes, coaching him to put space between words, erasing mistakes, helping him with vocabulary. Harborside Elementary School lured his mother onto campus by enrolling her as a student at the kindergarten through sixth-grade school. Before she became a Harborside pupil, Sylvia Perez did not set foot on campus. The extent of her involvement was giving her children rides to and from school.

Interview: Dr. Mel Levine - All Kinds of Learning - In this Children of the Code interview, Dr. Levine discusses his work at All Kinds of Minds and engages in a wide ranging dialogue about the many dimensions of learning. Of particular interest to COTC readers, Dr. Levine discusses how the effects of reading difficulty can ripple through learning in general.


Tips on Picking Audio Books - Here are some tips for choosing audio books for children, suggested by Shannon Maughan, audio book expert at Publishers Weekly, and Sharon Grover, youth services librarian in Arlington, Va.   


The Personal and Social Implications of Literacy and Literacy Instruction - Interview with Dr. Shanahan who is currently chair of the National Early Literacy Panel. Dr. Shanahan is an internationally recognized reading researcher with extensive experience with children in Head Start, children with special needs, and children in inner-city schools. During the course of over five hours of conversations, spread across three interviews, we found Dr. Shanahan to be an open minded and well rounded literacy expert whose driving passion is to serve children and families. He is without doubt one of the least partisan and most noble champions of children and literacy we have encountered.


The Scream! Does Children’s Literature Have to Be Scary? - It is as though the authors, the publishers, the teachers, and the professors of education share a bizarre consensus that ordinary children need to be shaken out of their complacency, stripped of their innocence, and frightened by the horrors that the world has in store for them at any moment. What Feinberg nicely exposes is that the entire field of children’s literature specialists has bought a flawed bill of goods and has sold it to the nation’s teachers. They have persuaded themselves that their job is not to promote excellent literature, but to promote depressing problem novels. In doing so, they seem to be turning young people away from literature in droves.


Reaching the Older Reader - 8.7 million 4th– 12thgraders read below grade level. Close to 70% of 8th graders read below the proficient level, and 25% fail to read at the most basic level. Almost half of African-American and Hispanic eighth-graders read below the basic level. Most dropouts are poor readers. The Coalition for Juvenile Justice reports that more than one-third of all juvenile offenders -- median age, 15 and a half -- read below the fourth-grade level. And, CJJ adds, 82 percent of prison inmates are school dropouts, and a high proportion are unable to read. Much more research is needed, especially to answer three questions: 1) How should reading be taught in the upper grades? It is still not clear whether tactics used to teach beginning reading apply to older students as well; 2) Which early reading problems best predict problems during adolescence? 3) How can schools motivate failing adolescents to read? Virtually no research has been done in this area.


SCOTLAND A Revolutionary Phonics Method Advocated in Scotland - Scotland's education minister wants schools across the country to consider adopting a new literacy approach known as synthetic phonics, which teaches children letter sounds by employing all their senses, rather than using the "look and say" method. At one school that has tested the approach for several years, boys are 30 months ahead of the national average for their age, while girls are 18 months ahead.


Writing Wrongs - Problem starts at home and in class. Every week, the average American child plunks down in front of the television for about 20 hours.


'Hamlet' Too Hard? Try a Comic Book - At a high school in New York state, Diane Roy teaches the students who failed ninth-grade English the first time around. Last year, on the heels of "Hamlet," she presented her class with a graphic novel--essentially a variety of comic book. Such books are turning up on classroom bookshelves--especially in classes where teachers are desperate to engage struggling and reluctant adolescent readers.


Two New Children of the Code Interviews: Dr. Louisa Cook Moats and Dr. Terrence Deacon - Dr. Louisa Cook Moats, Ed.D., specializes in the implementation of school-wide interventions for improving literacy. She directed the NICHD Early Reading Interventions Project in Washington, D.C. and as a Distinguished Visiting Scholar, worked on the California Reading Initiative. She is the author of many books and articles including: Speech to Print: Language Essentials for Teachers, and LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling). Her work in neuro-psychology and on large scale reading projects has provided her a unique perspective on the social-educational inertia that constrains how teachers and parents think about the challenges involved in learning to read. Dr. Terrence Deacon is professor of Biological Anthropology and Linguistics at U.C. Berkeley. He is the author of The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. Dr. Deacon is a renowned neuroscientist whose work provides an important backdrop for understanding the neurological challenges involved in learning to read. Our conversation with Dr. Deacon stretches from the origins of language and consciousness to the problems of automatizing the symbolic processing necessary for reading.


Struggling Decoders: Reading Fluently and Making Meaning of Text - As an elementary school teacher and principal for the past 31 years, I have had ample opportunities to listen to students read. By the time that they are in the third grade, most students are able to read with fluency and make sense of at least simple texts. Some students with learning disabilities plod through the same texts that their peers read with ease. When I think about these students, I am struck with how their reading in many ways mirrors my reading when I use my eyes and, to a lesser extent, my fingers.

Reading is Fundamental to Academic Turnaround - It's not easy being a kid. Especially one diagnosed with a learning disability in an age of crowded classrooms and schools grappling with tight budgets.


Speaker Educates Teachers, Leaders on Literacy - The message was clear to the 150-some crowd who came to hear one of the nation's authorities on literacy: Reading is not a natural skill, but one that needs to be taught. The way to teach it is through scientifically proven methods, Reid Lyon told educators. "Helping kids learn to read is much easier than helping adults adjust," said Lyon.


What We Sing, We Remember Forever! - What Pearson author put this fact to good use in teaching reading? In 1962 a former primary grade teacher and mother of three preschool children was washing dishes and talking to her youngest son to keep him nearby and occupied as she completed her task. She had been tutoring beginning and remedial reading students for years, but was still surprised by what she learned in that conversation with her 4 year old. To order, click here.


U.S. Imaging Study Reveals Brain Function of Poor Readers Can Improve - A brain imaging study has shown that, after they overcome their reading disability, the brains of formerly poor readers begin to function like the brains of good readers, showing increased activity in a part of the brain that recognizes words. The study appears in the May 1 "Biological Psychiatry" and was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).


Reading First and No Child Left Behind - The Children of the Code project is pleased to announce the availability of its interview with Chris Doherty, program director in the Office of the Assistant Secretary within the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE). He is responsible for the administration of the Reading First Program for the U.S. Department of Education.


OH Boys' Book Club - Ice cream, pizza, field trips and books that grab the reader's attention. These are the tools Delhi Middle School librarian Sandra Lingo is using to get sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade boys hooked on reading in the "All Guys Book Club."


UT Reading Goes To The Dogs - Colonel marches into Longview Elementary, offers a toothy smile and handshake to a stranger, and leaps into his chair, ready for work. In his clutch, however, is one strange briefcase: A chew toy. As states across the country work to build children's literacy skills, some Utah schools are throwing reading to the dogs. Man's best friend is working in a handful of schools and several public libraries to help readers improve, boost their self-esteem, instill a love for the written word — or just have fun.


TX Parents and Specialists Help Boy Deal With Dyslexia - MEG, or magnetoencephalography, allows scientists to take snapshots of brain activity every millisecond. After spending about 30 minutes with Peter, including a break for a snack, UT researchers had the data they needed to identify his problem. Most people read using the left half of their brain exclusively. Peter, like other dyslexics, was using the left and right lobes.


Literacy: Will Myrna Culbreath Accept My $500,000 Challenge? - Where is the Proof behind the Home Reading Program Claims? Dr. Gary Adams offers a $500,000 challenge to Myrna Culbreath to prove her claims about the effectiveness of the “PhonicsOpoly” game. His report also questions the grade achievement claims by “Hooked On Phonics” and “The Phonics Game” home reading programs. To assist possible purchasers, Dr. Adams provides links to the Better Business Bureau for company reports.


Study: Direct Instruction Not Best Way To Teach Reading - A three-year study of methods of teaching reading shows that highly scripted, teacher-directed methods of teaching reading were not as effective as traditional methods that allowed a more flexible approach. The study, headed by Randall Ryder, professor of curriculum and instruction in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's School of Education, also found that teachers felt the most highly scripted method, known as Direct Instruction (DI), should be used in limited situations, not as the primary method of teaching students to read. Urban teachers in particular expressed great concern over the DI's lack of sensitivity to issues of poverty, culture and race. Ryder's study looked at a range of approaches, from the very scripted DI approach to more traditional, holistic approaches that balanced systematic instruction with more open-ended classroom experiences. According to Ryder, "Most approaches work for some children -- no single approach works for all children. Which method is the best method for teaching reading varies for any student at any given time."

Children of the Code: PBS Documentary on Reading - In collaboration with New Horizons for Learning, Learning 1st Productions and Implicity, transcripts of many of the interviews will be published in advance of the series broadcast. The first in the series is the interview with Dr. Grover Whitehurst, Director of the Institute of Education Sciences and Assistant Secretary of Education of the U.S. Department of Education. The interview can be found at The website, Children of the Code, expects to publish a new interview every few weeks. Click here to see the index of transcripts that will be coming soon. Click here to be  notified of future interview releases.


U.S. Wrightslaw Explains Reading and No Child Left Behind - Because two-thirds of students are not proficient readers when they graduate from high school, No Child Left Behind focuses on teaching children to read.


Reading Today is Best Taught by Old Ways - Educators' efforts to ease conflict hurt neediest kids.  Schools are cranking up again all over America under new federal mandates for measuring the quality of education and the argument is still raging over whether it is better to try to drill reading into kids or to ease them into it with methods that may leave some children behind but leaves no child resentful.


MI Camp Literacy jump-starts kids for school success - Seven-year-old Felicia Wojciechowski was having trouble reading, but by the end of Camp Literacy last summer she was reading at a much higher level.


Ten Myths of Reading Instruction - Learning to read is about as natural as learning to juggle blindfolded while riding a unicycle backwards. In this article, Sebastian Wren details ten common myths of reading instruction.


NV Reading goes to the dogs - Children's program builds self-esteem, reading ability

Reaching Rommel - Everyone said his 10-year-old student would never learn to read.  For a long time, he believed it, too.


Intellectual Accessibility in the Library - Public Libraries are a unique governmental entity. A person does not have to live under the federal poverty line to be eligible for a library card. There is no medical exam, no asset limit test, not even an interview with a social worker for access to all the things a library contains.


CA Learning to love books, even before reading - Program lends materials to eager kids.


TX Reading by Nine: Brain studies may lead to reading revolution


MA Schools seek early reading on low scorers - Somewhere between 15 and 20 percent of Newton students are not reading at a proficient level ...and, the non-proficiency rate for students of color and students receiving subsidized lunches is more than twice the rate of the general school population.  Now, for the first time since 1973, each of Newton's 15 elementary schools has a full-time literacy specialist.


Researchers support early intervention for all children with reading difficulties

How schools teach reading is again a subject of much public attention - As you know, the discussion is particularly focused on whether reading instruction is based on research, and if so, what kind.


6 million kids at risk of failing in school - Advocacy group wants more literacy programs for 'dead-end' students.


All citizens are damaged by illiteracy


Literacy interns have proved their worth


Reading rally attracts tutors, even students


Read the article "Children's Reading Disability Attributed to Brain Impairment"


MI Campaign recruits literacy volunteers - Mentors are needed to help elementary students in Lansing.


MI Some schools to get funds to boost kids' reading skills - Some Oakland County schools may be able to win as much as $400,000 to teach children to read.


Read "Researchers support early intervention for all children with reading difficulties" - National experts in the field of reading and literacy have found research evidence that challenges federal policy for making children eligible to receive some special education services.


CA Teens Get a Second Chance at Literacy - L.A. Unified begins a back-to-basics reading program for secondary students. The effort is being watched by districts nationwide.


Richardson schools to switch reading programs - Focus moves from one-on-one tutoring to teaching small groups.


Children’s Reading Disability Attributed To Brain Impairment


Support for Reading Recovery:  Letters to the Editor of Education Week


Article about literacy:


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 Literacy-related Resources & Tools


Resource from a parent: Parenting a Struggling Reader: A Guide to Diagnosing and Finding Help for Your Child's Reading Difficulties by Susan Hall & Louisa Cook Moats - You can read an excerpt from chapter 1 on the Barnes & Noble website if you search under the book title and then "click" on the book title.  You then have an option to "click" to read an excerpt. Among the many things covered in the book are "central linguistic processing" issues. Visit for more information.


Literacy screening tool for 4-year-olds:,1120,63-25466,00.html


Family Literacy: A Strategy for Educational Improvement - There is an overwhelming relationship between parental education levels, parental involvement, and children's school success. Family literacy directly affects the role and effectiveness of parents in helping their children learn.  Click here to download the pdf brief (size=222kb).


C-A-T = CAT Online Phonics/Learn to Read Module - This online book/module is available for free online. "I think that the sounds available on the site (that coincide with each letter) is a very nice touch.  It is a humble approach to phonics from the UK." (JDI)


Ohio Department of Education: Choosing a Reading Program: A Consumer's Guide (PDF) - Descriptions and evaluations of 21 programs used in Ohio elementary schools.


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 Literacy Organizations & Websites


Directory of National and State Literacy Contacts - Locate literacy programs in your state.  The National Institute for Literacy (NIFL) is a federal organization that shares information about literacy and supports the development of high-quality literacy services so all Americans can develop essential basic skills.


Michigan Literacy, Inc. - Locate literacy programs in your county (Michigan only).  To learn more about Michigan Literacy, Inc., click here.

Starfall Learn to Read

RIF logoReading Is Fundamental (RIF) - Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. prepares and motivates children to read by delivering free books and literacy resources to those families who need them most.  RIF operates through a network of 435,000 volunteers and gives away 16 million books a year at more than 23,000 sites nationwide. These sites include schools, libraries, community centers, child-care centers, hospitals, migrant worker camps, Head Start and Even Start programs, homeless shelters, and detention centers.


National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD)
Get Ready to Read website (an initiative of the NCLD):
Internet Special Ed:


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 Literacy Hotlines


National Literacy Hotline 1-800-228-8813
The National Literacy Hotline has a 24-hour bilingual (Spanish/English) operator service that provides information on: literacy/education classes, GED testing services, volunteer organizations, and a learning disabilities brochure.


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