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Celebrating the Literacy Champions We Lost in 2019

ILA Staff
 | Dec 16, 2019

This year was filled with powerful moments at ILA. As we look to the next decade, we take a moment to remember beloved ILA members we lost in 2019. Although they are no longer with us, the legacies these literacy champions leave will live on through their work and the changes that have come about as a result of their enduring commitment to transforming lives through literacy.

Poet Lee Bennett Hopkins passed away on August 8 in Cape Coral, FL. Hopkins dedicated his career to writing numerous children’s books, which earned him the Guinness World Record for “most prolific anthologist of poetry for children,” with 113 titles to his name when the record was declared in 2011. As a former teacher and ILA member, he was known for his community service and dedication to providing resources to educators. His legacy lives on through pieces such as Wonderful Words: Poems About Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening, Been to Yesterdays: Poems of Life, and many more.

Alan Crawford, emeritus professor of education at California State University, Los Angeles, passed away this summer. Crawford leaves behind a long legacy of championing best practices in literacy instruction, especially for English learners. A longtime member of ILA, he served as president of the California Reading Association from 1986 to 1987 and as a representative of the International Reading Association (IRA) to UNESCO for many years. In 2018, Crawford and his colleague, Charles Temple, were awarded the ILA Constance McCullough International Research Grant. With the funds, the two launched the Reading-Krio project, an effort to promote native language literacy instruction in Sierra Leone.

An early pioneer of ILA, Elizabeth Hunter-Grundin passed away on June 19. She and her husband, Hans, were dedicated to improving literacy throughout European schools, where they were based. Not only was she an ILA (formerly IRA) Board member in the 1980s, but she was also a past president of the United Kingdom Reading Association. As a researcher, teacher, and consultant in the United Kingdom, United States, and Canada, she focused on child-centered and holistic approaches to early literacy learning.

Professor of Reading Education at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Linda Dorn passed away September 18. As a former Arkansas Literacy Association and ILA member, she presented at over 300 state, national, and international conferences, including keynote addresses and featured sessions. Dorn was Reading Recovery Trainer and was past president of the Board of Directors for the Reading Recovery Council of North America. At the state level, she had testified to legislative and state agencies on literacy instruction, and her work continues to be influential in shaping educational initiatives in the state.  

Past president of the Salt Lake Reading Council and former ILA Board member Ethna Reid passed away July 13. She was known to many as a teacher, principal, supervisor, and director of the Reading Clinic in Granite, Ogden, and Salt Lake School Districts. Reid also was the founder and principal of Reid School, located in Salt Lake City, UT. As developer of the reading language arts program, Exemplary Center for Reading Instruction, she worked to train teachers in eight critical teaching behaviors that lead to student success. Because of the high scores the program received, Reid was awarded "Distinguished Professional Award" for her outstanding contributions toward the education of  children in the United States.

Past president of ILA Roger Farr passed away in September. Farr served as emeritus chancellor's professor of education and director of the Center for Innovation and Assessment at Indiana University and wrote numerous assessments, including both standardized tests and performance assessments. From 1968 to 1980 he was coeditor of Reading Research Quarterly. In 1984, ILA honored Farr with the William S. Gray Citation of Merit for outstanding lifetime contributions to the teaching of reading. That same year, he was elected to the Reading Hall of Fame.

Although these champions in literacy are no longer with us, their combined efforts have changed the way we teach and understand literacy. We celebrate their lives and the lessons these leaders leave behind as we continue to promote literacy around the world.

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