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From IRRC Director Dr. Deborah K. Reed
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Iowa Reading Research Center
Monthly Email Update
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Greetings,

Staff of the Iowa Reading Research Center spend most of their time deep in the details of reading instruction and assessment. With this month being National Reading Month, I wanted to take a brief step out of the minutia and think about how we all grew to become readers ourselves.
 
Growing up, I loved books and considered reading a hobby.  Even before that, when I was too young to read books to myself, I recall listening to vinyl records not of singers or musicians, but of someone reading the shiny, illustrated storybook pages attached to the album cover. One of my favorite parts was the little chime followed by the magical voice of a Disney princess telling me to “turn the page.” It was not until I became a teacher that I learned I was among the fortunate ones. Not being able to lose yourself in a novel or to tackle a textbook assignment with confidence seemed an indescribable tragedy to me, and the pain experienced by my students with reading difficulties was visible on their faces and in their demeanors. At my very core, it became something that I had to fix. To this day, I consider my work in literacy to be about creating equitable opportunities for all students. 
 
Here are some of our staff and IRRC Advisory Council members’ reflections on their experiences with reading when they were young and how they became to be the readers they are today.
 

Katie Greving, IRRC Advisory Council chair

My mother was a kindergarten teacher at my elementary school, so as a child I spent a lot of time in her classroom before and after school. I loved looking at the shelves of classic children's books in her room. I worked in a public library in both high school and college, so I spent a lot of time shelving books and perusing the shelves in all corners of the library. All that time in the library stacks gave me a special appreciation for nonfiction, as it showed me all the topics one could read about.

Ben Stone, lead student computer programmer

One of my fondest reading memories was a day on the drive home from our yearly trip to the Boundary Waters. That same day, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out, and we able to pick up a copy at a local bookstore. My mom read out loud to my family for almost two hours, until she couldn’t read out loud anymore. After that, my fate was sealed. I would read voraciously, consuming anything I could get my hands on.

Kelly Binning, writing assessment specialist

I have always had a love for reading, and that love stemmed from my parents from a very early age. As far back as I can remember, I can recall my mother reading bedtime stories to my sister and me every night. When book fairs came to our school, my parents never hesitated to buy the books I desired. My parents encouraged me to be well-read and open-minded, to embrace my creativity, and explore my imagination. And that’s what I’ve always loved about reading: the ability to immerse oneself in an entirely new world or life experience—whether real or imaginary.

Rachel Wallace, administrative services coordinator

Some of the best memories I have involving reading as a child are of the many trips to the Cedar Rapids Public Library. My mother and I spent a lot of time at the library together. As an adult in a new city, the library has always been one of my favorite places to visit first. The enjoyment I get from a book comes from the positive experiences I’ve had with reading all throughout my life. Each time I open a book I know my grandma is somewhere asking, “What are you reading?” She loved books and loved that I enjoy them, too.

Olivia Tonelli, student writer

As a kid, I always loved the summer reading programs at my local library. Every week, my mother would bring my sister and I to the library to log the hours we'd spent reading. We were always so excited to go check out more books. I learned to love reading through the sense of community and understanding it gave me. As a kid, reading books with friends or reading popular series brought me closer to others!
We’ll be sharing more from our staff about their experiences with reading on Twitter this month.
 

New Staff Introductions

We have had five new undergraduate student employees join our team this semester.
 

Bailey Christensen

A native of Council Bluffs, Bailey is on our writing scorer team while also working on various other projects. She is a first-year student studying biology at the University of Iowa with a focus on genetics and biotechnology in order to become a forensic scientist.
 
Bailey says she appreciates staying engaged with reading and writing through this job in order to keep those skills sharp as she pursues a very science-based career path.
 
Outside of work, Bailey enjoys reading, cooking, making and drinking coffee, and going thrifting. She considers herself to be competitive, especially when it comes to academics and sports.
 

Maacah Heberlein

Maacah is a classroom observation scorer from Quincy, Illinois. The third-year student is studying elementary education in the UI College of Education.
 
Working at the IRRC allows Maacah to become more aware of areas where students may struggle with reading and writing, she says. She can use her experiences to think ahead about providing extra support in those areas in her future teaching career.
 
In her free time, Maacah is a member of the Hawkeye Marching Band drumline. In addition to music, she says she likes to show her artistic side through crocheting, painting, drawing, and writing.
 

Erica Hoffman

Erica is a writing scorer and second-year student. The Quasqueton native is an elementary education major at the UI College of Education.
 
Erica says she is embracing the opportunity to gain professional working experience and learn more about things like Varied Practice Reading and how students comprehend and write about the passage sets.
 
When she has free time, she says you can find her reading, playing with her German shorthair pointer named Macy, and hiking. She lists dystopian and true crime as her favorite novel genres.
 

Rielle Jones-Teske

A native of Cedar Rapids, Rielle is a writing scorer. She is a fourth-year student studying art history at the UI with plans to work in either an art or natural history museum.
 
Understanding more about how children learn through her work here will be useful when she is creating museum exhibits meant to be engaging and accessible for visitors of all ages, Rielle says.
 
Away from school and the office, Rielle likes to paint, play intramural soccer, and is president of the Undergraduate Art History Society. She prefers to read historical fiction because she says she can learn about the past through the lens of characters that make the history feel more real.
 

Katie McGinnis

Katie is a first-year student and classroom observation scorer. She is an English major at the UI with plans to become an English teacher.
 
Katie says she is excited to be working on research that will benefit the education system and to be closely observing classroom strategies.
 
In her free time, Katie is a gamer–video games, card games, and board games–and can get pretty competitive. She also likes to stay up late reading and is known to scribble poetry lines and other writing throughout the day.
 
Thanks for reading!
Deborah K. Reed, Ph.D.
Director, Iowa Reading Research Center

www.iowareadingresearch.org

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