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    2022 International Literacy Day Welcome

    By Kenneth Kunz & Annette Kiberu
     | Sep 08, 2022

    To our International Literacy Association (ILA) global community, we want to take this opportunity to join all of you in celebrating 2022 International Literacy Day and to call attention to the amazing work taking place across our committed and dedicated worldwide literacy network. This year’s theme is: “Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces.” As so many have embraced ILA’s Children’s Rights to Read, one can draw immediate connections to Right #6: Children have the right to supportive reading environments with knowledgeable literacy partners. As co-chairs of the ILA Global Committee, we are proud you have partnered with ILA to carry out this work. We invite you to share how you are embracing quality, equitable, and inclusive learner-centered learning for all.

    Our work this year began with a focus on joy around literacy, as we were able to meet for the first time face-to-face since the pandemic at the Federation of European Literacy Associations (FELA) Conference hosted in partnership with the Literacy Association of Ireland (LAI) in beautiful Dublin. Like the projects and initiatives presented to ILA’s global community, we were humbled to participate in their celebration of literacy, diversity, and new directions in the aftermath of COVID-19. As a proud supporter of this year’s event, ILA recognizes that there are countless opportunities to join hand in hand with networks advancing literacy across the globe, and our membership is second to none when it comes to research, innovation, practice, and service.

    On this International Literacy Day, our joy around this work continues as we participate in the many events taking place around the world. On this one day alone, the collective efforts of our network impact millions of readers across all of our regions and affiliates. As you celebrate this day with your schools, families, and communities, we invite you to visit to learn more about how the “I” is represented across ILA. Click on “Get Involved” and learn more under “Chapters and Affiliates.” We know you will be inspired by responses to literary needs impacting communities around the globe.

    If reimagining literacy through a global lens is new to the work that you do, or if you are looking to transform literacy in global ways in the aftermath of the pandemic, we share a few tips that have helped to bring our work into perspective:

    • Connect with a colleague from across the globe. Consider attending an international literacy conference (virtually, or in person!). We are looking forward to FELA 2024 in Chania, Greece.
    • Evaluate your local/school/classroom libraries to inventory representation of voices and diverse experiences from around the world.
    • Visit the ILA website to explore possible literacy networking opportunities. Identify a global affiliate participating in initiatives and projects aligned with your core values and interests.
    • Joining ILA is just a click away; membership is open to all of us. By joining or encouraging new members to join, you will learn, enjoy, and grab exposure to the latest research and practices. Join today to add to your knowledge as you promote literacy globally.
    • Enjoy the numerous literacy awards and grants that are open to all members internationally.
    • Write for Literacy Today, ILA's member magazine, or Literacy Now, ILA's blog, and share your International Literacy Day project. Showcase how you are transforming literacy learning.
    • Tag @ILAToday in your Twitter posts so we can connect and share your work! Use the official event hashtag in all of your tweets: #LiteracyDay.

    On this International Literacy Day, we would like to recognize YOU for supporting ILA’s mission and are proud that you are part of our ILA network. We wish you a safe, happy, and healthy International Literacy Day and look forward to hearing the different ways you bring readers together around the globe both today and throughout the year.

    Wishing you all the best,

    Kenneth Kunz        Annette Kiberu
    Co-Chairs, ILA Global Committee

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    Winners of International Literacy Association’s 2022 Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Awards Announced

    By ILA Staff
     | Jul 06, 2022

    The International Literacy Association (ILA) announced today the winners of its 2022 Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Awards, a program that honors emerging authors whose work exemplifies the best from rising stars in the literature landscape.

    The 13 titles from this year’s honorees represent a wide variety of genres, themes and topics. They include mind-grabbing examinations of nature and science, authentic and truthful portrayals of history and tales of resilience in the face of prejudice and injustice.

    “At ILA, we know that book recommendations are a valuable resource to our network of literacy practitioners, and we are proud to announce the winners of this year’s ILA Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Awards,” said Kenneth Kunz, president of the ILA Board of Directors. “These titles celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion, and provide teachers across the grades with stories that highlight diverse experiences and topics through rich character development and building background. I look forward to hearing the many ways in which teachers bring these titles to life through intentional literacy instruction in classrooms and schools.”

    The 2022 award winners are as follows:

    Primary Fiction

    • Winner: Isabel and Her Colores Go to School. Alexandra Alessandri. Sleeping Bear Press.
    • Honor: Archie Celebrates Diwali. Mitali Banerjee Ruths. Charlesbridge.

    Primary Nonfiction

    • Winner: Mimic Makers: Biomimicry Inventors Inspired by Nature. Kristen Nordstrom. Charlesbridge.
    • Honor: Areli Is a Dreamer: A True Story by Areli Morales, a DACA Recipient. Areli Morales. Random House Children’s Books.

    Intermediate Fiction

    • Winner: Starfish. Lisa Fipps. Penguin Young Readers.
    • Honor: Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna. Alda P. Dobbs. Sourcebooks.

    Intermediate Nonfiction

    • Winner: It Takes Guts: How Your Body Turns Food Into Fuel (and Poop). Jennifer Gardy. Greystone Kids.
    • Honor: Orca Rescue! The True Story of an Orphaned Orca Named Springer. Donna Sandstrom. Ill. Sarah Burwash. Kids Can Press.
    • Honor: Why Longfellow Lied: The Truth About Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride. Jeff Lantos. Charlesbridge.

    Young Adult Fiction

    • Winner: Both Sides Now. Peyton Thomas. Penguin Random House Young Readers.
    • Honor: Where I Belong. Marcia Argueta Mickelson. Lerner.

    Young Adult Nonfiction

    • Winner: No Way, They Were Gay? Hidden Lives and Secret Loves (Queer History Project). Lee Wind. Lerner.
    • Honor: We Are Not Broken. George M. Johnson. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

    For more than 45 years, ILA’s annual book awards have recognized newly published authors who exhibit exceptional promise in the children’s and young adult literature fields; eligible titles must be the author’s first or second, and if the book is also the illustrator’s first or second, then the author and illustrator share the award. Past winners include several authors who went on to achieve notable success and high acclaim—Patricia Polacco, Lois Lowry, and Juana Martinez-Neal, to name a few.

    “All of these titles are must-haves on classroom and library bookshelves, making this list a perfect starting point for educators and parents alike who are looking to build up their collection,” said Raven Cromwell, chair of the ILA Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Awards Committee and assistant professor at Marietta College in Ohio. “The list is bursting with windows and mirrors representing both diverse and universal human experiences; unique close-up looks at anatomy and nature to inspire future scientists; and journeys toward acceptance that celebrate identity, friendship and culture along the way.”

    Find out more about our ILA Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Awards and how to join the awards committee.

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    Linnea Ehri Receives William S. Gray Citation of Merit

    By ILA Sta
     | Jul 05, 2022

    The International Literacy Association (ILA) announced today the winners of its 2022 awards and grants, including its top honor and one of the literacy field’s most prestigious—the William S. Gray Citation of Merit—which was awarded to City University of New York’s Linnea Ehri.

    The William S. Gray Citation of Merit honors a nationally or internationally known individual for their outstanding contributions to multiple facets of literacy development, including research, theory, practice, and policy. Past recipients have included P. David Pearson, Steve Graham, Nell K. Duke, and Jeanne Chall.

    Ehri, a longtime member of ILA, is a distinguished professor emerita of educational psychology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). Her groundbreaking research centers on reading acquisition processes, phonemic awareness in word reading and spelling, characteristics of phonemic awareness instruction, the impact of literacy on language processes, and the causes, prevention, and remediation of reading difficulties. Her findings on the importance of grapheme-phoneme knowledge, phonemic awareness, decoding skills, and orthographic mapping have greatly contributed to today’s understandings about psychology processes and sources of difficulty in learning to read and spell.

    “I was surprised and felt very honored to join the ranks of highly accomplished scholars in receiving the William S. Gray Citation of Merit award,” Ehri said. “Gray’s stage-based portrayal of the development of reading ability is an important forerunner of approaches such as mine. As one of many researchers who use a scientific approach to understand how reading skill develops, much like Gray’s work on assessment, it is especially gratifying to have the significance of our contributions recognized.”

    Ehri is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Educational Research Association. She was inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame in 1998, served on the National Reading Panel and was president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR). She has published more than 130 research papers in books and scholarly journals, edited two books and served on editorial boards of 11 scientific journals, including ILA’s Reading Research Quarterly.

    “Ehri’s meticulous research over decades has profoundly influenced the field of literacy education, particularly our understanding of how young children learn to read, spell and learn the meanings of words,” said Nell K. Duke, chair of the William S. Gray Citation of Merit Award Committee. “Her research has a deep relevance to practice. She addresses questions that are on the minds of educators and curriculum designers. Numerous programs, interventions, and curricula that have been informed by Ehri’s work.”

    Joining Ehri in this year’s ILA awards and grants program are 10 other educators and literacy leaders, including Alida Hudson, Texas A&M University, who received the Timothy & Cynthia Shanahan Outstanding Dissertation Award for her dissertation, “Upper Elementary Teachers’ Knowledge of Reading Comprehension, Classroom Practice, and Students’ Performance in Reading Comprehension.”

    The other award recipients include

    • Melanie Collins, Literacy Association of Tennessee | Maryann Manning Special Service Award
    • Allison Swan Dagen, West Virginia University | Leaders Inspiring Readers Award
    • Amanda C. Dahl, Georgia State University | Steven A. Stahl Research Grant
    • Brittany Finch, Michigan State University | Jeanne S. Chall Research Fellowship
    • Gary E. Bingham, Georgia State University, and Hope K. Gerde, Texas A&M University | Diane Lapp & James Flood Professional Collaborator Award
    • Mary-Claire Ball, Erin Curran, Fabrice Tanoh, Hermann Akpé, Shakhlo Nematova and Kaja K. Jasińska, University of Toronto; and Seung-Hee Claire Son, Kirsten R. Butcher and Lauren Aimonette Liang, University of Utah | Dina Feitelson Research Award
    • Tanya S. Wright, Michigan State University | Jerry Johns Outstanding Teacher Educator in Reading Award

    The full list of awards/grants and recipients can be found here.

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    Global Editor Team to Take Helm of Reading Research Quarterly

    By ILA Staff
     | Jun 07, 2022

    The International Literacy Association (ILA) today announced the next editor team to lead the organization’s flagship journal, Reading Research Quarterly (RRQ). The appointment marks the first time in the peer-reviewed publication’s history that it will be steered by a team of researchers representing four countries.

    The editor team includes

    • Jennifer Rowsell, Professor and Deputy Head of School, School of Education, University of Bristol, United Kingdom
    • Christian Ehret, Associate Professor, Integrated Studies in Education, McGill University, Canada
    • Natalia Kucirkova, Professor, Norwegian Centre for Learning Environment and Behavioural Research in Education, University of Stavanger, Norway
    • Cheryl A. McLean, Associate Professor, Rutgers Graduate School of Education, New Jersey, United States

    Rowsell, Ehret, Kucirkova, and McLean are well-established as forward-thinking scholars and partners in the field. Their involvement in collaboration and with ILA is extensive. For instance, Rowsell, a former member of ILA’s Literacy Research Panel, and Ehret recently served as guest editors of a special issue of RRQ, “Literacy, Affect, and Uncontrollability.” Kucirkova was most recently a member of the editorial board for ILA’s The Reading Teacher (RT) and she is a member of ILA’s Early Literacy Committee, while McLean is a past member of ILA’s Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Awards Committee, a past reviewer for the annual conference research program, and a recent RT contributor.

    Their professional relationships date back to 2006, having worked together on numerous books and book chapters, journal articles, conference presentations, and research grants. Their collective interests span across age levels and include multimodal, makerspace, and arts-based research; posthumanist and affect approaches to literacy teaching and learning; the digital divide; social justice in children’s literacy and technology use; and race, culture, and identity.

    Their vision for the future of RRQ demonstrates a knowledge of and commitment to the evolving nature of literacy, with plans in the works for a podcast series and other methods to extend conversations about innovative approaches to reading and literacies across diverse formats, perspectives, voices, platforms, and spaces.

    “Each member of the team is a digital literacy expert, which is key to emphasize in a dramatically changing literacy landscape, and the team therefore carries potential to move the journal into newer directions,” the team wrote in their application. “We believe that the diversity of our backgrounds and cultures, work experience, career stages, and how we approach digital literacy will enrich our editorial work together.”

    The incoming editor team’s four-year term will begin July 1, 2022, and conclude June 30, 2026.

    Rowsell, Ehret, Kucirkova, and McLean will take over leadership from the current team of Amanda Goodwin and Robert Jiménez of Vanderbilt University who, during their tenure, spearheaded two landmark special issues of the journal examining the oft-polarizing science of reading (SOR) from supportive and critical perspectives. Among their accomplishments: boosting the journal’s impact factor, a measure used to indicate the relative importance of a journal, by more than 52%.

    Nicola Wedderburn, interim executive director of ILA, said she feels confident that the incoming editor team is poised to build upon the success of their predecessors. “We are excited by their plans for carrying RRQ’s 50-plus year legacy forward and are confident that they will not only leave their mark on the journal but also the literacy field at large.”

    Danielle Dennis, ILA Board liaison to the search committee that vetted all of the RRQ editorship applicants, echoed Wedderburn’s sentiments and also expressed gratitude on behalf of ILA for the members of the search committee who spent the past several months on the review and interview process.

    “As a member of the ILA Board of Directors and chair of the Publications Committee, I wish to acknowledge the outstanding, thoughtful, and intelligent deliberations of the RRQ Editorial Team Search Committee,” Dennis said. “The members of this committee held true to their charge and aligned their decisions with the mission and vision of the organization.”

    The search committee was led by Margaret Hagood, professor, College of Charleston, South Carolina, and also included Marcus Croom, assistant professor, Indiana University Bloomington; Raúl Alberto Mora, associate professor, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, Colombia; Fiona Maine, associate professor, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom; Seth Parsons, professor, George Mason University, Virginia; Mia Perry, senior lecturer, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom; and Jon Wargo, assistant professor, Boston College, Massachusetts.

    RRQ is the leading global journal offering multidisciplinary scholarship on literacy among learners of all ages, including the latest research studies. The reach and influence of the journal is extensive. RRQ had more than 350,000 full-text downloads in the last volume year and has a circulation of nearly 6,400 academic institutions.

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    An Unimaginable and Unexplainable Tragedy

    By ILA Staff, ILA Board and Executive Team
     | May 25, 2022

    UnimaginableAndUnexplainableTragedy_680Like all of you, we continue to watch the news today and try desperately—and unsuccessfully—to wrap our heads around the unimaginable and unexplainable tragedy that took place in Uvalde, TX, yesterday morning.

    This unfathomable situation—the loss of these innocent lives—has become an all-too-common occurrence.

    Nineteen children. Two teachers. In their school. A place that should be a haven safe from harm, a bastion of knowledge and learning, and a common ground for developing friendships and discovering the joys and wonders of the world.

    Nineteen children. Two teachers. In Robb Elementary School. That’s how many lives he took. How many more have been touched? Countless may have lost any hope of finding joy in going to school and in getting an education. Countless may never feel safe and in a place where they should feel safest of all.

    We can only hope that every person in the United States and around the world plays witness to this tragedy and works to make all schools a safe and joyous space for all learners and all educators. To fail to do so dishonors the memory of 19 children, who will never have the chance to grow up, and two teachers, heroes Irma Garcia and Eva Mireles, who gave their lives to protect their students.

    There are no words that can convey the sorrow we feel or soothe the pain of the families who lost loved ones. So let our actions do what words cannot.

    Stay safe. Stay connected. Stay strong.

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