the reading league

How do our brains learn to read? What are the underlying causes when students have difficulty? How do we prevent those difficulties? How do we remediate those difficulties? The scientific evidence base has converged to answer all of these questions. By leveraging the existing research in ways that inspire educators to refine their literacy instruction, The Reading League bridges the gap between research and classroom practice. This results in improved literacy outcomes for students.

The Problem

Despite decades of educational legislation and standards-based reform efforts, literacy rates in the US remain unacceptably low. A simple web search of “USA literacy rates” reveals a multitude of grim statistics. Regardless of which demographic group or definition of literacy we examine, a keynote assertion made by Dr. Kenneth Pugh on April 6, 2018 at Syracuse University’s Annual Neuroscience Research Day is one we can all agree on. “Not being able to read is not good.”

Indeed, it is not. Low literacy rates are associated with undesirable life outcomes that include an increased risk of poor health, shortened life expectancy, unemployment and underemployment, low income status, incarceration, and unwanted pregnancy. People with limited literacy are also less likely to experience the joy and fulfillment that come from reading a beautifully composed novel or a nonfiction text about their world.

Dr. Pugh also said,

We largely know how to fix this problem. It is therefore criminal if we don’t fix it.

The gap between research and practice is well established in the professional literature on reading instruction. In the introduction to her 1990 book, Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning About Print, Dr. Marilyn Jager Adams advised, “We must ask what it is that beginning readers need to learn, and how they might learn it most efficiently, effectively, and usefully. We must assess the wisdom of our major assumptions and instructional activities (p. x).” Dr. Adams synthesized the growing evidence base about how children best learn to read. She encouraged stakeholders to reflect upon their practices and to consider amending them to be more aligned to the research findings. However, this message from the scientific community to classroom practitioners went largely unheeded. It continues to get lost in the pipeline while the research evidence continues to converge.

In their 2003 publication, Using Research and Reason in Education, Drs. Paula and Keith Stanovich lamented, “Sadly, scientific research about what works does not usually find its way into most classrooms (p. 2).” Twelve years later, Dr. David Kilpatrick dedicated an entire chapter of his book, Essentials of Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties (2015), to acknowledging, explaining, and responding to the various factors that contribute to the research-to-practice gap. Clearly, not much progress has been made toward bridging this chasm. The Reading League aims to change that.

Dr. Wolf’s words remind us that informed decision making around literacy instruction is vitally important in the lives of students. The Reading League is firmly committed to:

  • Building an awareness that the scientific research evidence base exists
  • Fostering an understanding of how the evidence base informs classroom practice
  • Supporting educators as they implement instructional practices that align with the evidence base

We have set forth to accomplish our mission by:

  • Recruiting thousands of League members
  • Offering Live Events and an Annual Conference
  • Establishing a social media presence
  • Compiling resources for professional learning on our Knowledge Base page
  • Forming partnerships with schools that include tailored professional development experiences and school-based coaching

Our Team

Dr. Maria Murray
CEO & President

Laura Stewart
National Director

Christine Goodman, CPA
Vice President of Finance & Human Resources

Kelli Johnson
Reading Coach Director

Dr. Heidi Beverine-Curry
Vice President – Professional Development

Toni Ann Walsh
Vice President of Marketing & Development

Madeline Chilbert
Event Manager

Andrea Simone
Office Manager

Executive Board of Directors

  • Dr. Jorene Cook: President, Adjunct Professor at Utica College, Early Literacy Coach at Syracuse City School District
  • Stephanie Finn: Vice President, Literacy Coach at West Genesee Central School District
  • Jon Law, CFP: Treasurer, CEO CNY Consulting Group, LLC
  • Christine Castiglia: Secretary, Reading Coach at Oswego City School District

Board Members-at-Large:

  • Dr. Kymyona Burk: Policy Director for Early Literacy at the Foundation for Excellence in Education
  • Dr. Sheila Clonan: Psychologist, Educational Solutions CNY
  • Dr. Doreen Mazzye: Assistant Professor at SUNY Oswego
  • Patrice Murphy: Adjunct Professor at SUNY Oswego, Reading Specialist at Baldwinsville School District
  • Jessica Pasik: Adjunct Professor at SUNY Oswego, Reading Specialist at Fulton City School District
  • Jill Ryan, CPA: Ryan & Ryan, CPAs
  • Amy Siracusano: Literacy Integration Learning Specialist, Maryland Public Schools
  • Dr. Michelle Storie: Assistant Professor at SUNY Oswego

Advisory Board Members:

  • Dr. Antonio Fierro: National Literacy Consultant, Visiting Professor – State of Mississippi
  • Dr. John Garruto: Adjunct Professor at SUNY Oswego, School Psychologist at Oswego City School District
  • Dr. David Kilpatrick: Associate Professor of Psychology at SUNY Cortland
  • Dr. Kristen Munger: Associate Dean, School of Education at SUNY Oswego

Mission Partners

These not-for-profit organizations support The Reading League’s mission, and we support theirs. If you are interested in becoming a Mission Partner, please email us at, and include your website and mission statement.