About Reading Rockets

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 strong, confident 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 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. The awards recognize groups doing exemplary, innovative and replicable work, and they spotlight the need for the global community to unite in striving for universal literacy. Read the press release

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 inmultiple languages, video interviews with top children’s book authors, a daily news service, and more. We also have a robust community on TwitterFacebook, 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 Morgan Freeman and Henry Winkler 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.

Download the Reading Rockets flyer 

Our mission

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.

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.

WETA's ongoing commitment to education is realized through national services that focus on making learning available to all. Over the last decade, WETA’s Learning Media department has created and sustained five award-winning educational multimedia services:

AdLit.org

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

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

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 Rockets

Reading Rockets looks at how young children learn to read, why so many struggle, and what we can do to help them. The website includes an archive of articles, professional development webcasts, interviews with children's authors, a daily headline service, two blogs, and much more. The Reading Rockets project also encompasses programs produced for PBS, including te Launching Young Readers series and the documentart A Tale of Two Schools.

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.

Staff

Noel Gunther

Noel Gunther, executive director of 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).

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 overseessix national websites: BrainLine.org, ReadingRockets.org, StartWithABook.org, ColorinColorado.org, AdLit.org, and LD OnLine.org, which since 1996 has been the world's leading website in the field of learning disabilities. Noel is co-author of Beyond Boardwalk and Park Place (Bantam Books), which was named by the New York Public Library as one of the best young adult books of the year. He has also 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.

Christian Lindstrom

Christian Lindstrom is a producer for WETA Learning Media where her work includes developing television programs, websites, and print materials about reading, learning disabilities, mental health, and brain science. Her work on A Tale of Two Schools included directing, writing, and offline editing. She is currently producing additional episodes of the Launching Young Readers series.

Previously, Christian worked as 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.

Previously, she 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. Christian also played a significant role in developing LD OnLine, WETA's award-winning learning disabilities website.

Tina Chovanec

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 keep children reading, talking, and exploring 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

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

Lydia Breiseth is Director of Colorín Colorado, which is a part of the Learning Media Department of PBS station WETA in Washington, DC. In this capacity, Lydia 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.

Maria Salvadore

Maria Salvadore is Reading Rockets' consultant for children's literature and literacy. 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

Rachael Walker is passionate about helping kids develop a love of reading and has more than twenty years of experience in bringing organizations together to promote children’s literacy. Her focus on literacy and outreach began at Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) where she served as External Relations Officer. In her consulting work, she has conceptualized innovative programs, launched national campaigns, coordinated special events and developed original content for projects involving film, television, web, and print for the National Education Association, the Afterschool Alliance, HarperCollins Children’s Books, Random House Children’s Books, the World Wildlife Fund, and WETA’s Learning Media initiatives: Reading Rockets, Start with a Book, Colorín Colorado, and AdLit.org.

Rachael also has hands-on experience with meeting the challenges local nonprofits face having served three years as the Executive Director of Reach Out and Read of Metro DC, a coalition of early literacy programs based in DC area health clinics make literacy promotion a standard part of pediatric primary care. In addition to her work for WETA, Random House and the National Education Association, she’s currently a Literacy Advisor for the PBS Ready To Learn Project; advisor to Tales2Go, an award-winning audio story service for families; and serves on The Reading Connection Advisory Council.

Rachael blogs at Belle of the Book, devoted to "enchanting young readers with great books and fun activities."

Founding advisors

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
Vanderbilt University
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

Our funders

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 then, Reading Rockets has received funding from The Poses Family Foundation, the National Education Association, the Park Foundation, and an anonymous donor.

Help spread the word

Please let others know about Reading Rockets and help us spread the word about the importance of reading. The Connect, Link and Share page has lots of suggestions, from flyers to web widgets to video embeds. The Reading Rockets in Action page may inspire you with the innovative ways many different people and organizations are using our resources.

Reading Rockets also welcomes press inquiries. Press materials, including press releases and high-resolution images, are available in our Press Room.

Reprint policy

You are welcome to print copies for personal use, or a limited number for educational purposes, as long as credit is given to Reading Rockets and the author(s).

Material from our website may not be sold or used commercially. Permission to publish materials must be granted by the copyright holder.

Because we get our articles from a variety of sources, please check the bottom of the article for special reprint permissions or restrictions from the publisher.

If you have questions, please contact us at [email protected].

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