Update from ILA on COVID-19: We are committed to keeping you informed of all the latest developments, including the impact on the ILA 2020 Conference in Columbus, OH, and how ILA is helping educators during this period. Let us know what support you need and stay engaged using these free resources.

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Making a Case for Reading Joy
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Making a Case for Reading Joy
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    ILA Stands for Justice and Equality

    By ILA Board and Executive Team
     | Jun 03, 2020

    ILA_WeStand_blog_680x350Yesterday, one of our Twitter followers asked us, “Do #BlackLivesMatter?”

    The answer is, unequivocally, yes.

    We know words have power. What we say, how we say it, and to whom—all of it carries weight on a so-called normal day.

    But these days, when the world is reeling not only from a global pandemic but also from yet another horrific act of police brutality against a member of the black community, words matter even more.

    So, let’s be clear:

    ILA is an anti-racist organization that stands for justice and equality.

    We aim to embed racial and ethnic equity in everything we do.

    We elevate the voices of those struggling to be heard.

    And we do it all in service of you, your students, and the field of literacy education.

    We are facing an uncertain future, unclear on what schools will look like next year, let alone the next decade.

    What is certain is that sweeping systemic changes are required to ensure equity and inclusivity for all.

    That’s why we continue to invest in evidence-based approaches to social-emotional learning and trauma-responsive instruction.

    We're committed to providing professional learning for educators to guide them in this work. To supporting critical research that will help improve outcomes for every child, everywhere. To influencing educational policy that will disrupt and dismantle systems of oppression in every corner of the world.

    Words don’t mean anything without the actions behind them.

    What will you do today? How will you be an agent of change?

    Let us know how ILA can support your efforts.


    Kathy N. Headley
    President of the Board

    Stephen G. Peters
    Vice President of the Board

    Bernadette Dwyer
    Immediate Past President of the Board

    Marcie Craig Post
    Executive Director

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    ILA Reaffirms Commitment to Supporting Justice Through Literacy

    By ILA Staff
     | Jun 01, 2020

    LogoOne week ago today in Minneapolis, MN, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died when a white police officer pinned him down and kneeled on his neck despite Floyd repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe.”

    “I can’t breathe.” Those words have become a rallying cry at protests across the United States and have been chanted across the globe—as was the case in 2014, when similar protests broke out in response to the death of Eric Garner, a 44-year-old black man in Staten Island, NY, who said those same words 11 times before dying as a result of an extended chokehold from a white police officer.

    It is heartbreaking how little progress has been made since 2014, and how many times history has repeated itself in the five and a half decades since the 1965 Watts riots in Los Angeles, CA.

    With every fresh tragedy, social media feeds fill with demands for social justice, inspiring people to mobilize and take action. 

    And yet, here we are.


    Like many organizations, ILA has denounced unconscionable acts of racially motivated violence and spoken out against systemic racism.   

    Time and again, these efforts have been met with criticism from those who believe a literacy organization like ILA has no business weighing in on political matters.

    When we rejected the notion of making school safe by arming teachers, we were told it wasn’t our place to have an opinion.

    When we presented a conference program addressing LGBTQ students and teachers, we were attacked for pushing a radical agenda.

    When we stood with the American Library Association in protecting the rights of children in border detention centers in the United States, we were told to stay in our lane.

    What those detractors fail to realize is that these issues are squarely in our lane. ILA’s vision is literacy for all. Responding and developing resources in service of improved outcomes for our learners is not only appropriate but also our responsibility.

    At ILA, we always strive to do and be better. This will not stop. We will not shrink into the neutral zone.

    Instead, we will continue to recognize and address biases in classroom instruction, policies, and practices.

    We will continue to acknowledge and address academic disparities among students, particularly students of color.

    We will continue to advocate for classroom and school environments that are diverse, inclusive, affirming, and culturally sensitive.

    We will continue to fight to remove additional identified barriers preventing students from advancing their education.

    We will continue to further the research critical to equitable literacy instruction and systems that give every child, everywhere access to the opportunities, supports, and resources needed to reach their full potential.

    In the coming months, we will focus on trauma-responsive instruction (among other things). Not only because of what happened to George Floyd or Eric Garner or Michael Brown or Sandra Bland or countless others, but also because we must do our part to disrupt and dismantle systems of oppression in every corner of the world.

    We hope that you will join us in these efforts.

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    ILA Postpones Webinar

     | May 31, 2020

    Donalyn Miller webinar postponedThe International Literacy Association (ILA) will postpone tonight’s scheduled webinar amidst nationwide protests over the May 25 death of George Floyd.

    The webinar, “Making the Case for Reading Joy,” was to be led by Donalyn Miller. It will be rescheduled for a later date.

    Floyd, a black man from Minneapolis, MN, was killed at the hands of Dereck Chauvin, a white police officer who had Floyd’s neck pinned under his knee. Video of the incident, captured by a bystander, showed Floyd pleading for his life, saying repeatedly, “I can’t breathe.”

    Violent protests erupted across the United States, sparking solidarity protests all over the world.

    “What happened to Mr. Floyd is a tragedy,” said ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post. “Now is not the time to discuss the joy we can find in books, but instead to reflect on how we can promote positive change.”

    “Alongside ILA, I stand in support of the many school communities who are suffering right now and the need to share resources that directly address urgent needs,” says Miller. “Our children cannot experience reading joy without equitable literacy opportunities.”

    ILA is in the process of rescheduling the event and will announce the new date and time next week.

    “We know that reading has the power to heal,” Post said. “But there’s no way to begin healing when the trauma is this fresh.”

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  • Meaningful Remote Learning and Literacy Practices During COVID-19

    By Katie (Stover) Kelly
     | May 29, 2020

    Student at computerI’m not sure any of us were ready to move fully online but wham!, before we knew it, many of us were building the plane as we flew it. As schools closed due to COVID-19, teachers scrambled to figure out how to switch to remote learning. I have been incredibly impressed with teachers’ abilities and tenacity to do this on such short notice and to consider the complexities of the situation, including the variation of circumstances from family to family.

    With this in mind, I offer a few general tips for effective remote learning:

    • Keep it simple. (Sometimes less is more.)
    • Use familiar digital platforms. (This avoids added stress and new learning so focus can be on content and connections.)
    • Consider nondigital options. (First and foremost, issues of equity need to be considered, but also we want to avoid too much screen time.)
    • Avoid worksheets, both paper and digital. (Learning should be meaningful and not busywork.)
    • Consider asynchronous learning. (This allows for greater flexibility and balance.)
    • Be compassionate, flexible, and forgiving. (The most important tip of all! Don’t forget to honor this for yourself as well.)

    Building off these tips, here are a few suggested resources educators can use to engage students in asynchronous, meaningful literate practices at home now and during the summer months:

    Google Slides HyperDocs

    Create learning modules with Google Slides HyperDocs. Use this approach to put it all together and lead students through step-by-step directions and meaningful learning using multimodalities including text, embedded videos, screencasts, hyperlinks, and the like. Each of the following suggestions could be embedded in the Google Slides HyperDoc. 

    Online book clubs

    Create an Edmodo or Flipgrid page where students can join to discuss a commonly read book. Edmodo is similar to Facebook and allows students to post and respond to each other. Flipgrid is a great tool that allows students to respond with up to 10 minutes of video recordings.

    Paired books and movies

    Being at home is a great time for families to enjoy a movie night. Consider suggesting that students watch movies before or after reading the paired book to compare and contrast. Here are some book–movie pair suggestions to get you started.

    Reading to Make a Difference

    With ideas based on our book, Reading to Make a Difference: Helping Children to Think Deeply, Speak Freely, and Take Action (Heinemann), this blog post shows how to curate collections of texts that lead students toward meaningful conversations and action to make a difference while at home. For instance, consider reading a book such as Because Amelia Smiled (Candlewick) by David Ezra Stein and asking students how they might spark acts of kindness in their homes and in their communities during quarantine and beyond.

    Virtual books and informational text

    There are many online resources available to provide access to books including read-alouds on YouTube, websites such as Storyline Online, public library e-books, and publisher’s websites. Clare Landrigan has a great post on her blog about how to create a virtual library. She also provides a template you can use to get your own library started. Here are several repositories of books and informational texts to help stock your virtual shelves:

    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), Smuggling Writing: Strategies That Get Students to Write Every Day, in Every Content Area, Grades 3–12 (Corwin), and Reading to Make a Difference: Using Literature to Help Children Think Deeply, Speak Freely, and Take Action (Heinemann). Follow her on Twitter @ktkelly14 and her blog at bookbuzz.blog.

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    ILA Elects New Vice President and Members-at-Large to Board of Directors

    By ILA Staff
     | May 21, 2020

    The International Literacy Association (ILA) today announced the results of the ILA 2020 Board Election.

    Robert TierneyRob Tierney, dean emeritus and professor, University of British Columbia, Canada, honorary professor, University of Sydney, Australia, and distinguished scholar, Beijing Normal University, China, was elected vice president. His term on the ILA Board of Directors will begin July 1, 2020. He will then assume the presidency of the Board on July 1, 2021.

    Tierney has held professorships in Australia, the United States, and Canada and has published numerous books and scholarly articles focused on literacy education, teacher development, cross-national educational research, educational assessment, and equity. His recent projects include research on global epistemologies and cross-cultural research, digital literacy and meaning making, the nature of educational scholarship across countries, teacher development projects in China, and indigenous developments in Australia.

    Tierney has a long history of involvement with ILA. He has served as coeditor of ILA’s Reading Research Quarterly (RRQ) journal, as an editorial review board member for RRQ, and as a chair/member of several ILA committees. In 2003, he received the William S. Gray Citation of Merit, ILA’s highest honor for contributions to the field.

    He has also served as president of the Literacy Research Association and as a consultant for Children’s Television Workshop, Apple Computer, and UNESCO. He looks forward to bringing his expertise and global perspective to the Board and to helping guide the future of ILA.

    “My goal is to help ILA, its affiliates, my colleagues, and interested others to make positive and discerning contributions that are both transformative and sustainable,” Tierney said. “ILA has been and should be an agent for change and an ally to educators and communities seeking to make a difference locally and globally with initiatives that are visionary and forward thinking as well as credible, ethical, critical, creative, and beneficial. I see literacies as being at the epicenter of community development and societal advances that have been and will be key to our futures. I am excited by the various challenges and by what could be.”

    Three new Board members-at-large were also elected for the 2020–2023 term:

    Danielle V. DennisDanielle V. Dennis, a professor of literacy teacher education and director of the University of Rhode Island School of Education. Dennis served from 2014 to 2016 as a member of the ILA Literacy Education Reform Task Force that developed the Frameworks for Literacy Education Reform white paper. Since 2015, she has served as an editorial board member for ILA’s The Reading Teacher journal. Dennis served as a board member of the Florida Literacy Association and is currently chair of the Literacy Research Association’s Policy and Legislative Committee. As a literacy teacher educator, Dennis’s focus is on building strong school–university partnerships. Her research studies preservice and inservice teacher knowledge development through literacy coaching and curriculum development.

    Annette M. KiberuAnnette M. Kiberu,a librarian at GEMS Cambridge International School in Kampala, Uganda. Kiberu is the former president of the Reading Association of Uganda, a role in which she oversaw a primary literacy festival, six schools’ introduction of Book Week, three school librarians’ workshops, four national literacy conferences, and the 11th Pan African Literacy for All Conference. She is a board member for Lubiri Nabagereka and KinderKare schools. Kiberu chairs the International Development Committee for Africa, which is an affiliate of ILA. Other committees include the Uganda Multilingual Education Network, Uganda Children’s Writers and Illustrators Association, Peace Corps Education Committee Uganda, and Council of International Schools Library Committee. In 2018, she received the World Literacy Council Award for significant contributions to literacy by an individual.

    Helen J. PerkinsJ. Helen Perkins, a professor of literacy at the University of Memphis in Tennessee. Perkins has served on several ILA committees. Most notably, she served as coeditor of The Reading Teacher and as a lead writer for the Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals 2017. In addition, she is currently chair of the Advocacy/Legislative Committee and conference diversity advisor for the Literacy Association of Tennessee. She is also the advisor to the University of Memphis Student Chapter of the Literacy Association of Tennessee. Her research focuses on urban literacy.

    Tierney, Dennis, Kiberu, and Perkins were elected by ILA’s membership during the ILA 2020 Board Election, which was conducted online between March 30, 2020, and May 11, 2020. The new vice president and members-at-large will begin their terms on July 1, 2020.

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