Reading Rockets is a national public media literacy initiative offering information and resources on how young kids learn to read, why so many struggle, and how caring adults can help.
We bring the best research-based strategies to teachers, parents, administrators, librarians, childcare providers, and anyone else involved in helping a young child become a skilled reader. Our goal is to bring the reading research to life — to spread the word about reading instruction and to present “what works” in a way that parents and educators can understand and use.
Teaching reading is a complicated task … so much so, that reading expert Louisa Moats titled her influential article about the skills and knowledge educators need to teach reading well Teaching Reading IS Rocket Science (AFT, 2020). That’s how Reading Rockets got its name!
In 2016, the Reading Rockets project received the David M. Rubenstein Prize, the top honor in the prestigious Library of Congress Literacy Awards program . The Library of Congress Literacy Awards honor organizations working to promote literacy and reading in the United States and worldwide.
What we do
Reading Rockets provides free resources about teaching children to read and helping kids who struggle. On this website, you’ll find a hundreds of articles on teaching reading, classroom strategies, in-classroom video, parent tips in multiple languages, video interviews with top children’s book authors, a daily news service, and more. We also have a robust community on Twitter , Facebook , and YouTube .
Reading 101: A Guide to Teaching Reading and Writing — our self-paced course for pre-K to grade 3 teachers — presents the most vital information and strategies that teachers need to help students become skilled readers and writers.
We use the power of public TV to show how parents and educators can help children become better readers. Our Launching Young Readers series explores the stages of reading that every child goes through. Hosts like Fred Rogers, Henry Winkler, Vivica A. Fox, Reba McEntire, and Rita Moreno bring it all to life.
The project has been guided by an advisory panel made up of leading researchers and experts in the field of reading.
The National Institutes of Health estimates that one in five children has serious difficulties learning to read. These children are potentially among the most troubled kids in society. With early identification and a lot of help, however, children who struggle to read can flourish; without it they are at risk for failure in school and in life.
Since 1965, the federal government has invested more than $100 million to find out why so many children have problems learning to read and what can be done. Thanks to that research, we now know how to identify children at risk and how to help them before they fail. Reading Rockets’ mission is to take that research-based and best-practice information and make it available to as many people as possible through the power and reach of television and the Internet.
Launched in 2001, Reading Rockets is an education initiative of WETA , the flagship public television and radio station in the nation’s capital.
Together, we can help all children become strong, confident readers! Consider donating to Reading Rockets to help us to continue providing the best literacy resources for parents and educators.
Noel Gunther, executive director of WETA Learning Media and Reading Rockets, has overseen the project since its inception. Noel has broad experience in radio, television, print, and the web. He has co-written and co-produced award-winning documentaries for NPR and Public Radio International, including: Good Morning Vietnam with Adrian Cronauer (Gold Award, Best Culture/Arts Program, International Radio Festival of New York; Ohio State Award); American Voices: Norman Corwin with Charles Kuralt (Grand Award, Best Documentary Program, International Radio Festival of New York); Gray Matters: Depression with Mike Wallace (Gold Award, International Radio Festival of New York); and Drugs, Alcohol and the Brain (Gold Cindy Award, best documentary). Noel has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Village Voice, Washingtonian, American Journalism Review, and many other publications. He is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School.
For television, Noel’s work includes the PBS documentary A Tale of Two Schools, narrated by Morgan Freeman, and the five-part public TV series Exploring Your Brain. He now oversees seven national websites: AdLit.org, BrainLine.org, ColorinColorado.org, LD OnLine.org., ReadingRockets.org, ReadingUniverse.org, and StartWithABook.org.
Christian Lindstrom is the director of WETA Learning Media, where her work includes developing online video and websites about reading, learning disabilities, mental health, and brain science. Her work on A Tale of Two Schools included directing, writing, and offline editing. She produced many episodes of the Reading Rockets Launching Young Readers series.
Previously, Christian was the coordinating producer for Exploring Your Brain with Garrick Utley: The Brain-Body Connection, winner of the Gold International CINDY Award; and for Exploring Your Brain: Stress, Trauma, and the Brain, winner of a Time Inc. International Health and Medical Film Festival Award, a Silver CINDY Award, and the James and Sarah Brady Award for Public Service from the Brain Injury Association; and as associate producer for the three-part series Exploring Your Brain with Garrick Utley, winner of the 1998 National Alliance for the Mentally Ill’s Outstanding Broadcast Media Award for Science. Christian served as production coordinator for the television program Look What You’ve Done! with Dr. Robert Brooks, about learning disabilities and self-esteem, and for When the Chips Are Down… with Richard Lavoie, about learning disabilities and discipline.
Tina Chovanec, director of Reading Rockets, has more than 20 years of experience in non-profit project management and communications, including work as a writer, editor, print and web designer, and creative director. Since 2007, Tina has guided the development of new research-based resources on ReadingRockets.org, and spearheaded significant growth in audience through partnerships and outreach, syndication, and social media. In 2012, Tina launched a companion literacy initiative, Start with a Book, an online and on-the-ground project designed to help children build background knowledge and keep reading and learning during the summer. Reading Rockets has received numerous national awards for its television programs and websites, including recognition by the Library of Congress Literacy Awards program, Parents’ Choice, and the American Library Association.
Prior to working at WETA, Tina was the director of print and web publications at Oregon State University, where she led the development of award-winning communications for the university, academic colleges and departments, research centers, and the K-12 outreach program. Tina has an undergraduate degree from Brown University and an MFA in communication design from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has been a volunteer in public elementary schools and afterschool literacy programs in Virginia and Oregon.
Carrie Simkin is the director of AdLit.org. Prior to joining WETA, Carrie served as a faculty member and director of the University of Virginia’s School of Education and Human Development, Master of Education in Reading program in Northern Virginia. Her research interests focused on preventing and remediating reading difficulties and disabilities, striving adolescent readers and language minority learners.
Carrie has a strong background in curriculum development and instructional design with a passion for teaching and problem solving. Prior to her academic career, Carrie was a research associate at RMC Research where she provided technical assistance to states and large urban districts, conducted program evaluations, and designed professional learning series at the local, state and federal levels. Her previous years as a teacher and Reading Specialist continue to ground her work to support schools where academic success is possible for all students through a culture of excellence.
Lydia Breiseth is the director of Colorín Colorado, where she manages editorial content, multimedia production, partnerships, and outreach for the website. Lydia has presented Colorín Colorado’s resources at a number of national conferences, including TESOL, NABE, CABE, NAEYC, OELA, the AFT’s TEACH Conference, and the Latino Children’s Book Conference. Lydia has published articles on a variety of educational and literacy blogs on behalf of Colorín Colorado.
Lydia has taught both English and Spanish as foreign languages and spent a year in Ecuador teaching English to graduate students with the educational exchange program WorldTeach. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in English with a Minor in Latin American Studies from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.
Ashley is a senior digital producer at WETA Learning Media. She has produced and written award-winning programs for the Reading Rockets Launching Young Readers series. Ashley also provides department-wide technical support for our websites, with deep expertise in the Drupal content management system.
Maria Salvadore is Reading Rockets’ consultant for children’s literature and literacy, and writes the Page by Page blog. She is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Maryland, reviewer for School Library Journal and Capitol Choices, and former member of the American Library Association’s Notable Children’s Book Committee. She was previously coordinator of children’s services for the District of Columbia Public Library system and Cambridge (MA) Public Library. She currently works with PBS’s Ready to Learn project, the Kennedy Center’s education department, Reading Is Fundamental, and the Catholic Charities Parenting Program.
Maria has chaired or served on various book award committees including the Washington Post/Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award, the Boston Globe/Horn Book Awards, Golden Kite, and the Caldecott Committee. She is the co-author with Susan Hepler of Books Kids Will Talk About.
Rachael Walker is Reading Rockets’ partnership and outreach consultant, and writes the Book Life blog. She is passionate about helping kids develop a love of reading and has more than thirty years of experience in bringing organizations together to promote children’s literacy. As an architect of and the creator of content for the National Education Association’s Read Across America program, Rachael helped NEA transition Read Across America from a one-day celebration of reading and Dr. Seuss to a year-round resource to help educators and parents connect kids of all ages with books where they can see themselves reflected and respected. She creates materials for Random House Children’s Books, Disney, Algonquin Young Readers, and other publishers so that educators will have resources to help them boost student engagement with books.
She also created national celebrations like National D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) Day for HarperCollins Children’s Books and Get a Kick Out of Reading/¡Lee y Marca un Golazo! with Major League Soccer and the National Education Association. From 2011-2020, as a literacy advisor for the CPB-PBS Ready To Learn initiative, she was active in the development of new and innovative parent tools, including three award-winning apps. Rachael began her career in children’s literacy at Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and was also the Executive Director of Reach Out and Read of Metro DC.
Rachael proudly serves on the Advisory Board of The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance.
Susan Thacker-Gwaltney supports the Reading Rockets project as our research-to-practice consultant. She is a faculty member at the University of Virginia’s (UVA) School of Education and Human Development where she teaches and advises in the graduate reading program. Susan is the former director of the reading program’s outreach program and designed coaching and professional development opportunities for Virginia teachers. She teaches online courses and advises graduate students for the M.Ed. in Reading Education. Her research interests focus on preventing and remediating reading difficulties and disabilities in young children and instructional design for adult learners.
Susan has an extensive background in curriculum development and designing professional development for teachers. She has participated in evaluations of district and schools’ literacy programs and provided consulting/coaching support to schools and districts. Prior to working at UVA, Susan worked as a reading specialist and special education teacher in schools in Virginia and Georgia. Her years in the classroom ground and inform her work as a teacher-educator.
Reading Rockets was launched in 2001, with guidance from an advisory panel made up leading researchers and experts in literacy, reading, and special education. We continue to seek advice from our founding advisors and other reading experts to ensure that we are providing the best research-based resources for parents and educators.
Dr. Lynn Fuchs
College of Education and Human Development
Department of Special Education
Dr. Louisa Moats
Former Director, NICHD Early Interventions Project
Advisor to Sopris West Educational Services for Literacy Research and Professional Development
Dr. Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar
University of Michigan, School of Education
Dr. Louise Spear-Swerling
Southern Connecticut State University
School of Education, Department of Special Education and Reading
Dr. Julie Washington
University of California—Irvine, School of Education
From 2001 to 2012, the Reading Rockets project was funded by a major grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs . Since 2013, Reading Rockets has received key funding from The Poses Family Foundation, the National Education Association, the Park Foundation, and an anonymous donor.
About WETA and Learning Media
WETA Washington, D.C., is the second-largest producing station for public television. WETA productions and co-productions include PBS NewsHour, Washington Week with Yamiche Alcindor, documentaries by filmmaker Ken Burns, and history, public affairs and performance specials.
Elizabeth Campbell, the founder of WETA, once said there are three great educational institutions in this country: public schools, public libraries, and public television. Of these, public television is uniquely positioned to educate, entertain, inspire, and delight through local and national broadcasts and online services.
Part of WETA’s ongoing commitment to education is realized through a suite of national services that focus on making learning available to all, created and sustained by WETA’s Learning Media department.
In addition to Reading Rockets, WETA’s Learning Media department oversees five award-winning education services:
Launched in late 2007, AdLit.org offers resources to the parents and educators of struggling readers and writers in grades 4-12. The site includes research-based articles, instructional material for classroom teachers, an Ask the Experts feature, a blog by a librarian and children’s book reviewer, tips for parents, book recommendations, exclusive interviews with top authors, and a free monthly e-newsletter.
Colorín Colorado is a bilingual website designed for the parents and educators of English language learners. The website gives Spanish-speaking parents a wealth of information in their native language and gives teachers the information they need to be more effective in working with children for whom English is a second language.
LD OnLine provides accurate information about learning disabilities and ADHD to over 200,000 people each month. The site features hundreds of helpful articles, multimedia, first-person essays, and children’s writing and artwork. Monthly advice columns by noted experts, active forums, and a comprehensive resource directory.
Reading Universe is a free, innovative professional learning platform that provides evidence-based, step-by-step guidance, and tools for how to teach reading and writing. The site features our interactive taxonomy of reading skills, lesson plans, in-classroom videos, printable activities, and decodable texts. Reading Universe is for teachers, reading coaches, tutors, and caregivers — anyone who wants to help a child learn to read.
Start with a Book
Start with a Book provides parents, caregivers, summer program staff and librarians free resources to engage kids with reading, writing, exploring, and building knowledge about the world. Start with a Book pairs 24 kid-friendly topics with books, hands-on-activities, writing ideas, podcasts, websites, and other resources to deepen learning. The project also offers free toolkits and activity guides focused on science, social studies, and the arts.
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