In 2004, while working on a Master’s degree in Language & Literacy Development at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, I took a class on reading comprehension. At that point in my life I had taught school and had three young readers of my own at home, so I was pretty sure I knew all about what it took to read successfully. But in class that morning, I heard for the first time that there are three types of skills children need to become strong readers, and that those skills mostly accumulate from birth. And it made me think: how can we expect children to read well if parents (and often teachers) don’t know what the skills are or how to build them?
After graduating, I spent 10 years working in and with schools, using current research to create the kinds of instructional settings that children need in order to become strong readers. Over the years, I witnessed the same instructional problems contributing to low reading outcomes over and over again across the country. And I realized that in every setting, parents were effectively left out of the conversation about learning to read.
At that point, I knew I had to shift my focus to parents. Parents needed–and deserved–to know how children become strong readers, what to do to move their own children forward, and how to advocate for their children’s instructional needs with teachers and caregivers. Parents are the stakeholders who could make sure the learning-to-read process results in strong reading skills: they are the people in children’s lives who are there the most, and care the most, and could help the most, in easy and natural ways. They just need a little help themselves. And that’s why the Parent Uptake Project – PUP Reading – was born.