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NICHCY Connections...to Literacy

February 19, 2004
Resources added, April 6, 2006
Approx. 12 pages when printed

Theresa Rebhorn
Assistant Director of Publications, NICHCY

NICHCY is pleased to connect you with sources of information and assistance on literacy. Literacy is knowing how to make meaning from written language by:

  • reading,
  • writing,
  • thinking, and
  • communicating.

This includes everything from knowing how to read and write your name and address to reading or writing scholarly works, and everything in between. With appropriate access, active learning, and balanced instruction every child can gain their own personal literacy level. We hope this resource list will help parents and professionals find the tools they need so that all children reach their fullest literacy potential.

The list below isn't intended to be exhaustive of the literacy resources available---it's ever-growing. We'll be adding to this page constantly, so check back often to see what's new!

Research Basics

  • Visit NIFL, an authoritative source for literacy information.
    NIFL is the National Institute for Literacy, and its site overflows with resources. Search NIFL's national database of literacy programs to find one in your neck of the woods. Access NIFL's many publications, including a 58-page teacher's guide for using the findings of the National Reading Panel in the classroom (called Put Reading First: The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read; a Parent's Guide called Helping Your Child Learn to Read; and a series of adult literacy publications entitled Bridges to Practice.
  • What does the research have to say about what works in literacy?
    Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement (CIERA) offers technical reports that have the latest research findings of different literacy studies. You'll also find publications on reading, appropriate for both teachers and parents. Don't miss the series of instructional resources.
  • And then there's the National Reading Panel and its research reports.
    In April 2000, the National Reading Panel (NRP) released its research-based findings in two reports and a video entitled, "Teaching Children to Read." The first report is an excellent resource for anyone interested in learning about reading instruction research. The second report (a more technically-written document) reviews the reports of subgroups that assessed the status of research-based knowledge on the effectiveness of various approaches to teaching children to read.
  • What has NICHD found out about reading development, reading disorders, and reading instruction?
    During the past 33 years, scientists at NICHD (the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) have studied the reading development of 34,501 children and adults. This includes 12,641 individuals with reading difficulties, many of whom have been studied for as long as 12 years. The link above leads to a synthesis online at the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) and authored by Reid Lyon, which is derived from an analysis of over 2,500 publications generated by NICHD scientists since 1965.
  • What do we know about preventing reading difficulties in young children?
    Teachers and researchers may wish to read this 1998 report of the National Research Council that synthesizes the research on early reading development. It paints an integrated picture of how reading develops and how reading instruction should be provided.
  • What about the Reading First program?
    The Reading First program is a focused effort to improve reading skills of students in kindgarten through the third grade. The link above connects you to Project FORUM's synthesis of information shared by the Department of Education at the Reading Research Symposium for the Council of Great City Schools in March 2002.
  • What types of parent involvement help children learn to read?
    This Research Digest investigates: What types of parenting practices are related to children's early literacy in reading, math, and general knowledge performance at the end of the kindergarten year? How does the relationship between parent involvement and early literacy vary for children from different racial/ethnic and income backgrounds?
  • And for parents---here's something written just for you about the research on reading.
    The International Reading Association offers What is Evidence-based Reading Instruction? to help parents understand the research in reading, including how to identify literacy instruction methods that are likely to lead to high student achievement. Download the brochure at the link above.
  • More about the research base on reading---and PowerPoint slides!
    In 28 pages, find out about Reading: A Research-Based Approach, available online (at the link above) at the NICHD, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, at the National Institutes of Health. You may also be interested in NICHD's PowerPoint slides on the subject, at: www.nichd.nih.gov/crmc/cdb/reading/index.htm
  • Summarizing the knowledge base.
    NCREL (the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory) provides summaries, syntheses, and links to literacy resources on its site.
  • Be sure to visit NICHCY's Research to Practice database.
    There are more than a dozen major reading meta-analyses summarized there for you---complete with practical examples and links to research-based materials you can use today to improve children's reading skills.
  • Research-based literacy materials from the U.S. Department of Education and the projects it funds.
    Our federal tax dollars at work! Download the Literacy Resource Guide for Families and Educators and connect with current research-based literacy resources available through the U.S. Department of Education and its funded projects. The guide lists whether the resources are available in print, online, CD-rom, and videotape. The description of each item also includes information about cost (many are free!), ordering (including bulk copies), and the relevance for specific audiences (e.g., older students, students with disabilities, and English-language learners).
  • To teach phonics or not?
    Ah, to answer that burning question! Try these resources.
    • www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/nrp/report.htm
      The National Reading Panel's report Teaching Children to Read includes reports of the Panel's subgroups. The link above will lead you to the Table of Contents for the subgroups' reports. Chapter 2 focuses on Alphabetics and includes closer looks at phonemic awareness and phonics instruction.
    • Reading Rockets.
      Reading Rockets's by-line is "Launching Young Readers" and that's exactly what this content-rich site intends to help you do. At the link above, you'll find selected research studies that investigate issues important to phonics.