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Pam Allyn: How Every Child Becomes a Super Reader

In February, the Twin Cities Area Reading Council (TCARC) through collaboration with Scholastic Education, hosted Pam Allyn at a Saturday workshop where participants were treated to Pam Allyn’s passion and extensive knowledge in the area of literacy instruction and equity in education.


Pam is described as a “champion for kids and young people, for their real lives with stories, a teacher of teachers, author, and education entrepreneur.” Pam Allyn is the author of several books on equity and education; among them, Every Child a Super Reader (Scholastic 2015) co-authored with Dr. Ernest Morrell. During the TCARC event, Pam Allyn shared how all children can become super readers through the 7 strengths model.


Allyn states that a “super reader” is one who “enters text with purpose. Regardless of platform (print or digital) and genre (fiction, informational, or poetry), she reads text with deep comprehension and finishes it feeling satisfied, informed, and inspired” (Every Child a Super Reader, p. 16). Super readers read voraciously, often read in more than one language, are reflective and most importantly, love to read. There are 7 strengths that can be nurtured in children to support their growth as super readers. These strengths are based in social-emotional research and help to create a strong foundation for lifelong learning. These strengths are: belonging, curiosity, friendship, kindness, confidence, courage, and hope.


In her talk, Pam Allyn described some ways to promote the 7 strengths.

To promote:

  • Belonging: Provide community building activities that engage all students.

  • Curiosity: provide opportunities to build inquiry about self, the community and the world.

  • Friendship: provide learning opportunities for students that allow them to collaborate in partnerships and groups.

  • Kindness: Provide learning activities that support social action in reading and writing.

  • Confidence: Explore new types of reading and writing and provide opportunities for students to talk about their reading and writing.

  • Courage: Teach students how to persevere and overcome struggle.

  • Hope: Make goal setting a part of every week, month and year with students.


There are major benefits to being a “super reader. Allyn states that being a “super reader” translates to high achievement. The research (Sullivan and Brown 2013) suggests that reading for pleasure has more influence on academic achievement scores than whether their parents held degrees. Literacy is at the heart of communication and being able to communicate well is imperative to being a successful member of society.


“Super reading” can also support children in the development of empathy and understanding. In her book, Allyn states that research (Kidd and Castano, 2013) has shown that the reading of fiction can actually support in navigating social relationships in the real world.


Super reading also supports children's’ sense of self and emotional resilience. Reading, writing and exposure to multiple genres, perspectives, and modalities of literacy provides us with a path to access the world around us in ways we might never otherwise be able to access. We are opened up to a world of possibilities through text.


We are thankful for our opportunity to host and learn from Pam Allyn on how to grow a foundation of emotional strengths through literacy in our children that will support them in their academic and emotional future.


TCARC looks forward to hosting another inspirational literacy leader, Jennifer Serravallo, on May 15, from 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. at the Minnesota Masonic Heritage Center. Please visit mra.onefireplace.org for more information. We hope to see you there for another great learning experience!


#literacy #reading #superreader #pamallyn

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