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Dedicated to Teachers

Building a Framework for Deeper Understanding

Reading_Make_A_Difference_PicOneReading, writing, and conversation can stretch the known and expand the heart and mind toward a more inclusive and empathic way of being. Lester Laminack and Katie Kelly offer a framework that can both deepen and broaden students’ understandings, insights, and empathy for the greater human family and world we all share. The framework involves five phases: selection, connection, reflection, action, and next steps. 

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Download a sample chapter of Reading to Make a Difference! 


  • How will the collection of texts expand students' understanding of the issue? 
  • What is the intended goal for reading these texts?
  • How will reading these texts leave readers curious? Inspired? Changed?
  • Will individual students have an opportunity to explore landscapes, neighborhoods, and dwellings unlike their own?
  • Will they meet characters that have family structures different from what they experience?
  • Will they see and hear language and speech patterns that differ from their own?
  • Will they experience new cultural ways of being and lifestyles?
  • Will they meet characters that face new challenges and different obstacles than those they know?


  • How will students make connections across texts to build their understanding of the issue?
  • When students have an opportunity to explore landscapes, neighborhoods, and dwellings unlike their own, how can I help them make connections to their own environment?
  • When students meet characters that have experiences or family structures different from their own, how can I draw connections so that these don’t seem so different?
  • When students are exposed to language and speech patterns that differ from their own, how will I help them find value in all language?
  • When students read about new cultural ways of being and lifestyles, how will I connect these to what is familiar to them?
  • When students meet characters that face challenges and obstacles different from their own, how will I help them build on what they already know?


  • Which landscapes, neighborhoods, and homes are you still thinking about? Why?
  • Which character or situation are you still thinking about? Why?
  • Do any of the characters remind you of yourself? How?
  • Which character would you want to have a conversation with? What would it be about
  • Which character or situation puzzles you? How?
  • What culture, lifestyle, or situation reminds you of your own life?
  • What culture, lifestyle, or situation do you want to know more about? Why?
  • What situations or obstacles do you find yourself still thinking about? Why?


  • So what?
  • Why does this matter?
  • Now that you have read these books, how are you changed?
  • In what ways are you inspired to take action?
  • What might this action look like?
  • What can you do to make a difference in your life? The lives of others? The community? The world?

Next Steps

  • Now that you’ve taken action, how are you changed? How are others changed?
  • Why is taking action important in our lives? The lives of others? The community? The world
  • In what ways are you inspired to continue to take action in your everyday life?
  • How will this action lead you toward living a better life?
  • How will your action lead others to becoming change agents?

Learn more about Reading to Make a Difference at Heinemann.com!

Download a sample chapter of Reading to Make a Difference!

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lesterlaminackLester L. Laminack is Professor Emeritus at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina where he received two awards for excellence in teaching. Lester is now a full-time writer and consultant working with schools throughout the United States and abroad. He is an active member of the National Council of Teachers of English and has served three years as coeditor of the NCTE journal Primary Voices and as editor of the Children’s Book Review Department of the NCTE journal Language Arts (2003–2006). He also served as a teaching editor for the magazine Teaching K–8 and wrote the Parent Connection column (2000–2002). He is a former member of the Whole Language Umbrella Governing Board, the Governing Board and Secretary of the North Carolina Association for the Education of Young Children, and the Board of Directors for the Center for the Expansion of Language and Thinking. He served as the Basic Reading Consultant to Literacy Volunteers of America from 1987 through 2001 and is a former member of the Board of Directors of Our Children’s Place. Lester has served as editor (2017) of the Writing Department for the ILA Journal Reading Teacher.

Lester's academic publications consist of several books including Learning with Zachary (Scholastic), Spelling in Use (NCTE), Volunteers Working with Young Readers (NCTE)and his contributions to The Writing Workshop: Working Through the Hard Parts (NCTE), Learning Under the Influence of Language and Literature (Heinemann), Reading Aloud Across the Curriculum (Heinemann), Climb Inside a Poem (Heinemann), Cracking Open the Author’s Craft (Scholastic), Unwrapping the Read Aloud (Scholastic), Bullying Hurts: Teaching Kindness Through Read Alouds and Guided Conversations (Heinemann), The Writing Teacher’s Troubleshooting Guide (Heinemann), and Writers ARE Readers: Flipping Reading Strategies into Writing Instruction (Heinemann).

Lester currently lives in Dillsboro, NC and Asheville, NC with his husband Steve and their two dogs, Bailey and Sora. They are the proud grandparents of an adorable little girl named Everette. You can connect with Lester on his website, LesterLaminack.com, or on Twitter at @Lester_Laminack


katiekellyKatie Kelly is an Associate Professor of Education and Coordinator of the Literacy Graduate Program at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina where she teaches literacy methods for elementary learners, literacy assessment and instruction, and practicum with an emphasis on literacy coaching. As a former elementary teacher and literacy coach, Katie’s teaching and research interests include teacher preparation and development in the area of engaging literacy instructional practices with emphasis on children’s literature, diversity, inclusion, and social justice. She examines ways to engage diverse learners through culturally relevant practices that value all individuals while fostering compassionate global citizens who advocate for social justice and equality. Additionally, Katie is interested in exploring ways to integrate technology to mediate literacy practices to prepare today’s global learners.

Katie is widely published in several peer-reviewed journals including The Reading Teacher, Voices from the Middle, Reading Horizons, Literacy Research and Instruction, and Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education. She coauthored two books: Smuggling Writing: Strategies that Get Students to Write Every Day, in Every Content Area (3–12) (Corwin) and From Pencils to Podcasts: Digital Tools to Transform K–12 Literacy Practices (Solution Tree).

Katie currently lives in Greenville, South Carolina with her rescue dog, Mollie. You can connect with her on Twitter at @ktkelly14

Topics: Video, Lester Laminack, Katie Kelly, Reading To Make a Difference

Date Published: 04/10/19

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