(Arithmetic ≠ Mathematics) + (Reading ≠ Literacy)

*Click on images to see larger version. Forty-some years ago I joined the International Reading Association (IRA), a huge collection of reading educators from all over the world. I also joined the National Reading Conference (NRC), which was a rather small organization of reading researchers. Members of these organizations met to share what they’ve been up […]

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Culture is Everything

Certain family cultures make the likelihood of success in school and beyond more accessible than others. The culture of which I speak is not about ethnicity, parental education, income or language, though. It’s about the prevalence and prominence of book reading in the families, regardless of any other cultural group to which they might belong. […]

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How to Use Magic to Grow Lifelong Learners

Many kids can read just fine, they just don’t read books. This is not okay, because books are irreplaceable sources of learning, language and literacy development. Consider that twenty-seven percent of adults were willing to share that they did NOT read a book last year. Non-reading kids grow up to become non-reading adults.  Of course, many circumstances contribute to […]

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Children Learning to ask Great Questions

The qualities of the questions we ask children are important. From them, kids learn to ask and answer good questions or to remain silent. There are Direct questions, which focus upon verifiable answers. Questions we hope even young kids can correctly answer are designed to ensure that a student / child is processing experiences productively and that expanding their thinking. […]

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The Primacy of “Mother Language”

This week the world celebrates International Mother Tongue Day. February 21st is the date designated in 1999 by the United Nations to recognize the primacy of the home language in everyone’s culture. That language in turn is the most comprehensive path to the full understanding of a people and their values. The commitment of this […]

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The Magic of Letters

Letters are magic. No, not alphabet letters. I mean  “snail mail.” Handcrafted letters are slow motion conversations across space and time that share emotions, events and ideas using paper and print. They have the gravity to split time into “before the letter arrived” and “after the letter arrived.” They provide us with an invisible asynchronous connection with other people. The first time a […]

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Do you have the most important job in the world?

Early childhood education, defined as the nurturance of cognitive, emotional and physical growth of children from birth through age 8, is inarguably the most productive and fruitful window for establishing the life trajectories of kids. This relatively short period of dramatic physical and neurological expansion, of psychological and emotional growth, is paramount in its importance for child development. Yet, that fact seems pretty much ignored by education experts and policy makers who spend an unconscionable amount of time, energy and money on engineering and assessing the results […]


There’s Reading Aloud, and then There’s the Magic of Books

The results are in! Reading books to children is a really, really a good thing. Along with its academic benefits of increasing language and vocabulary strength, reading aloud with children helps them see the wonder that can be found within book pages. Lap reading may be their first encounter with the magic of books, print and […]

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Untouched Violins and Unread Books

Adults trained and hired to lead children into mastery of knowledge and skills that the larger community feel are important take the business of schooling very seriously. Chief among the goals we have for students inarguably is Teaching Children to Read. Strangely enough, this most critical phrase is used with several meanings. Teaching Children to Read could mean being […]

“Could you read with ME today?”

Jean Anne Clyde, my dear wife, is also a retired teacher educator, who focused her university teaching on literacy. Recently, she volunteered at a school two blocks from our home. Every Tuesday she drags a suitcase filled with favorite kids’ books to the school. For an hour each week, Jean Anne works with primary school children, helping them improve their literacy–not just […]