A Word about Resources

Our mission at Rooted in Language is to provide educators with the best instructional strategies and materials to ensure literacy growth for all students–especially those who struggle with reading and/or writing. We believe it's important to help others understand the mountain of research available and which ideas appear to be the most critical for developing sound literacy skills. Our purpose is to share the sources that inform our teaching strategies and to give you the opportunity to expand your own knowledge. There are many teaching philosophies out there, and it is critical that we don’t evaluate ideas based on one person’s experience, cultural myths, or flashy marketing. Instead, we try to curate the ever-growing research that is now culminating into what is called SoR, or the “Science of Reading.” We also focus on teaching strategies thought to be EBP or Evidence-Based Practices. We put together not just what we know from experience, but what others know from statistical evidence. By nature, these resources will expand over time as this body of knowledge grows. Meanwhile, there are key concepts to consider as you explore these citations.

The Science of Reading is an intimidating beast that is impossible to capture or fully tame. This beast has multiple heads since the information spans many different fields of study. It also has many homes since the information spans many cultures and stages in child development. It has many languages, since it spans many countries, each with its own linguistic demands and resulting insights. It eludes ownership–as soon as any organization makes claim to its answers, those boundaries impede its development. The SoR beast is constantly in motion. We must notice its shifts and changes, while cautiously waiting for consensus before we follow. Finally, it is prolific, giving birth to various evidence-based strategies. With each new birth, we must be careful not to “throw out one of its babies with the bathwater,” but we must also not clutch one baby so tightly that we can’t let it go . . . or grow.

As we learn new concepts, we must fold them into our “multi-linguistic” approach. By multi-linguistic, we mean literacy approaches that utilize multiple language systems within the brain, most notably the phonological, orthographic, and morphological language systems. But for comprehension, we also help children tap into their semantic and syntax systems. (See our POSSUM free download.) No single aspect of reading or writing will ever be enough because our cognitive-language system is complex and multifaceted.

As we digest new ideas, we must always look for a convergence of information, rather than let ourselves become excited about everything shiny and new, erroneously viewing each report as the answer we’ve been hoping for. New ideas must fit into the greater puzzle (as is true of the speech-to-text approach). Old ideas may need to be revived (such as the importance of cursive) and others must be respectfully discarded (like group Round Robin reading practice), depending on how they measure up or if they have ever been measured at all! Some ideas may benefit some students, but not the struggling learner (such as requiring Sustained Silent Reading). Lastly, some ideas must be completely eradicated because they impede literacy growth (such as the Three Cueing System, which taught children to skip and guess at words, essentially training poor reading habits that interfere with reading accuracy and comprehension)!

We also must look at a collective body of research. Every single study has its limitations. A single study may be a rung on a ladder, but is not the ladder. This is why meta-analysis reviews are so critical. In a meta-analysis, a group of researchers collect data from many sources and draw conclusions from the collected data. Likewise, we must look across multiple disciplines of study, multiple types of research (developmental, behavioral, brain imaging), across numerous academic institutions, across numerous countries, and across numerous languages. For example, when the National Reading Panel published its report in 2000*, launching the shift back to phonics-based instruction, its findings were based on decades of research. Now, more decades of research have been added to this seminal work, growing our current model of reading.

We must remember this evolution as we consider various models and constructs. They are each theories to help us understand the multiple skills involved in reading, writing, and spelling. Yet we must remind ourselves that any construct is likely still too simplistic to encompass all the cognitive skills involved in literacy development. Here are a few to consider:

  • Gough & Tunmer’s “Simple View of Reading”
  • Perfetti’s “Lexical Quality Hypothesis”
  • Share’s “Self-Teaching Hypothesis”
  • Forster & Chamber’s “Dual Route Model”
  • Berninger, et al’s “Triple Word Form Theory”
  • Apel & Mastersons “Repertoire Theory”
  • Scarborough’s “Reading Rope”
  • Sedita’s “Writing Rope”
  • Wolf’s “POSSuM Model”
  • Ehri’s “Phases of Sight Word Development”

I rely on well-respected researchers that have produced seminal works in reading and writing, and who recognize and value a multi-linguistic approach. I also follow those whose work has been replicated and who provide a meta-analysis of the research. These include:

  • Maryanne Wolf
  • Beverly Wolf
  • Mark Seidenberg
  • Stanislas Deheane
  • Jeanne Chall
  • Marilyn Jager Adams
  • Keith Stanovich
  • Joseph Toreson
  • Virginia Berninger
  • Linnea Ehri
  • John Hatte
  • Steven Graham

People are always people, as the saying goes, and some play nice while others do not. I try to follow the ones who play nice, who can have a healthy debate, and who are willing to acknowledge that growth does not mean we vilify those who have erred in the early years. When we know better, we do better. That is our philosophy, and we hope it is yours as you tackle these sources!

For your convenience, we have organized these sources and citations by type. This allows you to find the kind of information you find most helpful, and it helps us to more easily update this resource. Unfortunately, many research articles are subject to paywalls that prevent access. We cannot control this and also face this problem. The only solutions are to find a friend with university access or to write the author and ask for the article directly.


* National Reading Panel. (2000) Report of the National Reading Panel--Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Return to Sources & Citations