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    ILA 2018 Board of Directors Election Opens

    By ILA Staff
     | Mar 27, 2018

    BoardElection_w300It's Board Election time at the International Literacy Association. Members with active, eligible memberships are encouraged to vote for three at-large candidates and one vice president candidate. Read about the candidates here

    The ILA 2018 Board Election will be conducted entirely online this year. This means that individual ILA members with an active, eligible membership and a valid email address will receive an email link to vote using an online ballet. For more information, please go to

    For assistance signing into your ILA membership account, please contact ILA at 800.336.7323 (U.S. and Canada) or 302.731.1600 (all other countries).

    For technical assistance with voting, please contact Intelliscan's Andrew Arbitell at

    The newly elected Board members will begin their terms on July 1, 2018.

    The ILA 2018 Board Election closes at 5:00 p.m. ET on May 8, 2018. 

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    National Walkout Day: Teaching for Democracy

    By Katie Kelly and Marie Havran
     | Mar 21, 2018
    Books About Activism

    Today’s post-Columbine generation has never known a world without school shootings. Last Wednesday, thousands of students and teachers across the country participated in National Walkout Day in response to the mass shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, FL. They were met with mixed reactions from district officials, some of whom prohibited participation, citing security risks, disruptions to learning, and the need to refrain from expressing political views during the school day as justification. In some instances, students were physically blocked from exiting the building by school employees.

    We argue that this is a missed opportunity for meaningful learning about the democratic process and for teaching students how to advocate for their rights. Furthermore, teaching is a political act; it is impossible to take a neutral stance when making curricular decisions, choosing which books to include or exclude in our classrooms, and deciding whose voices and histories are being told and valued. We believe our students should not be asked to divorce their rights to freedom of speech or expression upon entering school. As educators, we owe it to our students to create spaces where they have the right to safely express their views and where their voices are valued.

    In a field driven by top-down mandates, educators’ voices are often stifled and silenced, creating a culture of compliance. As the instructional coach at my school, I, Marie, was approached by many teachers who wanted to be a part of the movement to honor and show solidarity with the victims of Stoneman Douglas High School. I agreed that this was an important opportunity to teach students about civic engagement, but the teachers and I felt limited in what we could do as a result of the district’s communication that outlined appropriate activities, so I reached out to Katie to brainstorm possible solutions.  

    After careful consideration, we decided that literature could create a conduit for conversations centered around social change. We encouraged teachers to read aloud Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Toniatiuh, which examines the Mendez family’s actions that led to school desegregation. The text was used as the foundation for classroom discussion, which provided reflection for taking action.

    Students connected the events in the text to current conversations around policy change. They channeled their feelings through authentic writing experiences—students chose to write letters to first responders, to the students of Stoneman Douglas High School, or to fellow classmates. They shared words of gratitude for the first responders, expressed feelings of hope and encouragement to the victims, and stated their desire to end school violence. Knowing a group of students organized and led the movement added an element of genuine awe as these elementary students began to realize how powerful a group of young people can be. They learned that they too have a voice and can make a difference.

    Real world reading, writing, and discussion were used as tools to foster meaningful response and to help students cope and support each other. Through each modality, a deeper understanding of their experiences was embraced in a caring and nurturing environment within the classroom community. Choosing to advocate for our students in this way allowed us to frame the larger ideas concerning the school shooting.

    At such a pivotal moment, teachers embraced tough conversations and provided a framework for future activism. Students who participated in National Walkout Day experienced an important movement as part of living history that takes learning far beyond the pages of the textbook and stretches beyond their classroom and school walls. Even when banned from participating, educators still found ways to engage their students in valuable lessons about the democratic process while imparting essential literacy, social, and life skills.

    Other books to teach young students about social activism include the following:

    • The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, A Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson (Simon & Schuster, 2017)
    • Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel (HarperCollins, 2013)
    • Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney (Little, Brown, 2010)
    • Malala Yousefzai: Warrior With Words by Karen Leggett Abouraya (StarWalk Kids Media, 2014)
    • Let the Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson and Frank Morrison (Houghton Mifflin, 2018)
    • ¡Sí, Se Puede! / Yes, We Can!  by Diana Cohn (Cinco Puntos Press, 2005)

    Katie Stover Kelly is an associate professor of education at Furman University in Greenville, SC, and coauthor of From Pencils to Podcasts: Digital Tools to Transform K-6 Literacy Practices (Solution Tree, 2017) and Smuggling Writing: Strategies That Get Students to Write Every Day, in Every Content Area, Grades 3-12 (Corwin, 2016). Her new coauthored book with Lester Laminack will be published by Heinemann this fall. Find her on Twitter @ktkelly14.

    Marie Havran is an elementary instructional coach in Greenville, South Carolina, and an adjunct professor at Furman University. Find her on Twitter @MarieHavran.

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    Advocate, Leader, Humanitarian: ILA Mourns the Loss of Dr. William H. Teale

    By Lara Deloza
     | Feb 05, 2018

    teale-headshotToday the literacy field is reeling from the loss of an influential educator, tireless advocate, and dear friend, Dr. William H. Teale.

    Teale, the Immediate Past President of the International Literacy Association (ILA), passed away unexpectedly Saturday, in his home in Evanston, IL. He is survived by his loving wife, Junko Yokota, and two children, Alyssa and Jeremy, among other family members and friends.

    He was a professor of education, university scholar, and director of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Center for Literacy (CFL), a public service and research center that works to improve literacy education, policy, and research at the local, state, and national levels. As part of his role at the CFL, he headed projects that provide economically underresourced families with services that facilitate their children’s early development and school readiness.

    Teale’s body of work focused on early literacy learning, the intersection of technology and literacy education, and children’s literature. One current project centered on the implementation of a networked improvement community focused on principals' instructional leadership for literacy in eight Chicago public schools. He authored more than 150 professional publications and traveled constantly, presenting conference papers and colloquia in over 25 countries around the world.

    He served as a consultant to school districts and libraries across the United States, as well as to Children’s Television Workshop, Head Start, public television, Reach Out and Read, and NGOs in developing programs focused on literacy learning and teaching. In review and advisory capacities, he worked for entities such as the National Academy of Education, the U.S. Department of Education, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

    The contributions he made to the field are immeasurable and led to his induction into the Reading Hall of Fame in 2003.

    teale-action-shotDuring his tenure on the Board of Directors of ILA, including his 2016–17 term as president, Teale led several initiatives, including cochairing the ILA Global Task Force, a group that worked to emphasize a global agenda and matching model of governance in the organization. He was an integral member of the ILA/National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Task Force on Literacy Teacher Preparation. He also helped guide the organization during its transition from the International Reading Association to ILA.

    Although his list of professional accomplishments and honors are plentiful enough to fill a book, the hole he leaves in the literacy community runs so much deeper.

    Teale was incredibly passionate about early literacy and the importance of diverse, quality children’s literature, and he decried the inequities across the globe that denied access to both. He was the very definition of a literacy leader.

    “These are trying times,” he said in his keynote address at the ILA 2017 Conference. “And there’s nothing more important than what we as educators do to help develop readers and writers who have the knowledge and the imagination and the self-reflection and the empathy to make the times better.”

    He leaves behind a legacy as a staunch early literacy advocate, a devoted mentor, and an incredible human being.

    Lara Deloza is the senior communications manager at the International Literacy Association.

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    The Transforming Power of Reading Aloud

    By Pam Allyn
     | Jan 30, 2018

    wrad-2018Before I began reading on my own, my mother’s voice brought the letters and colorful characters of my picture books to life. Her voice, combined with the authors’ journeys, created within me a sense of well-being as well as the belief that I could be and do many things in the world. Many years later, that feeling has turned me into a lifelong reader, and has inspired me to create LitWorld to make sure every child gets to experience the joy that reading brings to a person’s soul and spirit.

    Literacy is an act of power and freedom. It is why slaves in our wrenching and painful U.S. history were forbidden to learn to read and write, and why young girls living in repressive societies today are kept out of the classroom. When children realize the power of narrative, they begin to dismantle patriarchy, racism, and oppression. In a true democratic society, every child has these tools of literacy to both absorb the stories of the world and to tell his or her own.

    The most effective way to cultivate a love of reading in children is to read to them. A study conducted by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research found that reading aloud to children every day puts them almost a year ahead (academically) of children who do not receive daily read-aloud. This practice sets the stage for lifelong success.

    LitWorld’s World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) was inspired by a conversation with a young student. I was reading a book aloud to him and his classmates when he looked at me and said, “Mrs. Allyn, let’s make sure everyone knows how good this feels. Let’s have a holiday for the read-aloud.” I realized that sometimes in education we have this idea that if something is fun for children, it must not good for them. But here, we have a purely simple case; the read-aloud, yes, is fun for children, but also deeply good for them (and for democracy).

    There’s much more to reading aloud than reciting words from a page. It’s a meaningful experience for your students (at all ages), and fine-tuning it is key to fostering a passion for stories, language, and social justice in everyone.

    Here are five ways to create a home or classroom environment for more impactful read-aloud:

    1. Designate a special place and time for reading aloud: Whether it’s creating an elaborate fort together or something simpler, like a reading “nook,” building a safe space allows kids to relax and open up for conversation and to engage around the books you are reading together.
    2. Keep track of books that inspire the richest conversations: Make a file on your device to save favorite read-aloud titles. Find space in your classroom to post children’s reviews and comments after reading. Document the journey together, valuing the titles that invite new worlds and/or reflect your deepest selves.
    3. Solicit your students for story recommendations and books they want to read (and read again) to share ownership of the read aloud experience: Scholastic, our extraordinary sponsor in WRAD, published the Kids and Family Reading Report, which shows that children are most likely to finish (and enjoy) books they choose themselves.
    4. Make read-aloud a performance: Invite students from other classrooms, teachers, librarians, staff, parents, grandparents and members of the local community. Stage a play, read aloud from children’s own narratives, or host a read-aloud-athon on World Read Aloud Day to bring the importance of reading aloud to the fore.
    5. Use read-aloud as a tool for social justice and equity: By discussing a shared text, we can honor and hear quieter voices in our classrooms and at home. Make sure to stop for “turn and talks” during the read-aloud and to select books that reflect a wide range of cultures, languages, and perspectives.

    In this way, multiple voices and stories wash over your community like a cleansing, celebratory rain, signifying the start of a new era and a time when all children’s voices matter and will be heard.

    Join us on February 1 (and the other 364 days of the year!) to see reading and literacy transform children’s lives. Visit us at to find related resources and our Facebook page to see (and post) photos from across the world in the coming days and weeks. Remember to use the tag #WorldReadAloudDay to share your experiences!

    pamallynheadshotPam Allyn is the founding director of LitWorld, a global literacy initiative serving children across the United States and in more than 60 countries, and LitLife, a cutting-edge consulting group working with schools to enrich best practice teaching methods and building curriculum for reading and writing.

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    ILA's 2018 What's Hot in Literacy Report Shows Educators Prioritize Issues of Equity, Access, and Quality

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Jan 08, 2018
    2018-wh-reportThe International Literacy Association (ILA) released the 2018 What's Hot in Literacy survey findings today, revealing wide gaps between what’s truly valuable to educators around the globe and what’s getting the most attention from the media, policymakers and others in the field.

    The ILA 2018 What’s Hot in Literacy Report provides a snapshot of what 2,097 literacy professionals from 91 countries and territories deem the most critical topics to advancing literacy worldwide.

    The survey asked respondents to rate 17 literacy-related topics in terms of what’s hot and what’s important. Topping the hot list for the second year in a row: Digital Literacy, a topic that dropped from No. 8 in 2017 to No. 13 in terms of importance.

    On the flip side, topics such as Access to Books and Content, Mother Tongue Literacy and Equity in Literacy Education ranked significantly higher in importance than they did heat. These gaps reflect the challenges of teaching in today’s world, such as a rise in racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity; a growing number of English learners; and an unequitable distribution of resources in classrooms—and illustrate a growing number of unmet needs in these areas.

    “We learned that many educators, working with increasingly diverse student bodies, do not have sufficient training, parental support or resources to respond to student needs,” said ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post. “This survey helps us to identify where more support is needed so we can provide solutions.”

    Respondents recognized positive early literacy experiences, family engagement and professional preparation and development as among the most critical factors for advancing literacy for all.

    Equity and access go hand in hand: Respondents indicated not only that issues of both equity and access should be a higher priority, but many also remarked that schools bear the responsibility of providing equitable opportunities and resources for all students.

    • According to 86% of respondents, Equity in Literacy Education is extremely or very important, placing it in the No. 2 spot.
    • Access to Books and Content—giving students access to content and books that are relevant for all learners, for both pleasure and academic reading—is rated extremely or very important by 82% of all respondents.
    • Outside of the United States, 71% of respondents said Mother Tongue Literacy is very or extremely important, compared with 62% of respondents from the United States. U.S. respondents are also less likely to say this topic is hot.
    • Strategies for Differentiating Instruction—tailoring instruction to accommodate each individual student's needs—ranks among the top five most important and hottest topics overall.
    The community–literacy connection: One of the greatest predictors of lifelong success, early literacy experiences create the foundation for learning in all subject areas.Many respondents remarked on the importance of exposing young children to books, words, stories and more—early and often. Respondents also noted the importance of involving families and community-based organizations in these early literacy activities.

    • Early Literacy remains the No. 1 most important topic for the second year and ranks as the second hottest topic overall.
    • Only 35% of respondents said Family Engagement is very or extremely hot, whereas 79% of respondents believe that it is very or extremely important.
    Excellence in literacy education: Another important aspect of equitable education is ensuring teachers’ readiness to respond to their students’ unique literacy strengths and needs. Respondents expressed that improvement initiatives often focus too much on standards and not enough on the conditions of teaching and learning in schools. Results show a desire for more preparation and knowledge for wider support and involvement across communities.

    • Teacher Preparation holds the highest gap among the topics, ranking No. 3 among important topics but No. 12 among hot topics.
    • According to 73% of respondents, Administrators as Literacy Leaders is very or extremely important, but only 29% said that it’s very or extremely hot.
    • Often associated with standardized tests, Summative Assessments—measurements of student achievement and acquisition of literacy skills at the conclusion of an instructional period—is viewed as a hot topic (at No. 3) but the least important (coming in at No. 17).
    The full survey findings are available in the ILA 2018 What’s Hot in Literacy Report, available at

    Alina O’Donnell is the communications strategist at ILA and the editor of
    Literacy Daily.
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