It’s expected that 45 million readers, both young and old, will celebrate the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day on Monday, March 1. The day celebrates the joys of reading, but how many children and adults struggle with literacy? And is literacy the key to science learning?

Graduate programs in elementary and secondary education at Michigan State University’s College of Education have been ranked No. 1 in the nation for 24 consecutive year by U.S. News & World Report. Faculty from these top-rated programs are available to discuss important issues on literacy and reading.

Patricia Edwards, professor of teacher education, the first African American president of the Literacy Research Association and former president of the International Reading Association. Her research focuses on issues related to families and children: engaging hard-to-reach families, parent involvement in the reading/writing process, parent support of children's oral preparation for literacy.

“Read Across America Day and similar events are important to build a nation of readers, but it’s critical that parents are partners in reading,” Edwards said. “But what happens if parents aren’t literate or English is their second language? For these people, the notion of ‘just read to your child’ becomes a complex and difficult task.”

Tanya Wright, associate professor of teacher education. A former kindergarten teacher, Wright is an expert in instruction, teacher education and teacher professional development in early language and literacy. Her research focuses on the teacher’s role in promoting oral language, vocabulary and background knowledge development for young children. Her recent work has addressed the current state of vocabulary instruction in kindergarten classrooms.

"If we want to prepare young people for future science learning, we can’t wait until they are done learning how to read. The key is to integrate subject matter with literacy learning. We found that when kindergartners get to do science with integrated language and literacy experiences, they talk and think in sophisticated ways about the science concepts they are learning.”