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The Big Picture

How are we doing in teaching children how to read and write? Why do so many children struggle? How can we all do a better job? This section offers some background and context about the bigger picture.  

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The Time Is Now

Are reading scores improving over time? How big is the "achievement gap" that's associated with students' family income, their race or ethnicity, and their language background? Has there been any progress? Dr. Sean Reardon and Sadie Richardson of Stanford University dug into the numbers and here's what they found.

Read About the Achievement Gap

Why It Matters

Reading Universe adviser Kareem Weaver believes that "literacy is the fundamental civil right of our time." He explains why every child needs explicit teaching when it comes to learning to read.

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10 Maxims: What I’ve Learned from 50 Years of Reading Research

For 13 years, Dr. Reid Lyon oversaw the reading research program at the National Institutes of Health, one highlight of his long career as a research scientist, neuropsychologist, professor and classroom teacher.

We asked Dr. Lyon to summarize in plain language what we've learned so far from reading research.

Read and Download the Maxims
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Timely Talk: How Children Learn to Read

Reading specialist Margaret Goldberg explains the science of how children learn to read and how we can teach most effectively.

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Julie Washington

Timely Talk: Teaching Reading to Children Who Speak African American English

Dr. Julie Washington offers guidance on teaching children who speak African American English at home.

Watch Now
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Timely Talk: Teaching Students Who Are English Language Learners

Dr. Elsa Cardenas-Hagan discusses best practices for teaching students who are English learners.

Coming Soon
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Teaching English Learners

More than 5 million students in grades pre-K-12 in the United States are classified as English learners. That's 10% of our entire student population. Dr. Claude Goldenberg, professor emeritus at Stanford University, offers this perspective on teaching English learners.

Read "The Bilingual Brain"

ABCs of Reading Research

We have compiled 11 of the most compelling articles that crystallize some key findings from reading research.

Top 10 Things You Should Know About Reading

Get the basic facts about what it takes for a young child to learn to read, best practices in teaching reading, the importance of oral language in literacy development, why so many children struggle, and more in this overview.

Read "Top 10 Things"

Report of the National Literacy Panel for Language Minority Children and Youth

An increasing number of children entering early childhood education settings are English Language Learners (ELLs). Given that on average, ELLs have low levels of literacy attainment, teaching these students to read and write well in English is an urgent challenge for educators.

Read the NRP Report

“It Works” and Other Myths of the Science of Reading Era

Reading expert Timothy Shanahan shares details that might help readers grasp the implications of a scientific or research-based approach to reading.

Read Dr. Shanahan's Blog Post

Scaling Up for Success

How can we improve reading instruction beyond a single school or a single district? Mississippi is the only state that has made significant progress in its reading scores over the last dozen years. What can we learn from that experience? This 15-minute film shows how the Barksdale Reading Institute and the Mississippi Department of Education teamed up to achieve dramatic improvement in student outcomes statewide.

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Teaching Step by Step

The Reading Universe Taxonomy is your interactive, step-by-step guide to teaching reading. It's designed for teachers, reading coaches, tutors, caregivers — anyone who wants to help a child learn to read. Watch to learn more — or dive right in and give it a try!

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Try Our Taxonomy

Reading Universe is made possible by generous support from Jim & Donna Barksdale, the American Federation of Teachers, the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, and three anonymous donors.

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