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Welcome to the Boise State University Department of Literacy

Programs for Children and Teens

Goals of the Literacy Center

The BSU Literacy Center was originally called The Reading Education Center and was co-founded by Drs. William Kirtland, Ruth Marks, and E. Coston “Fritz” Fredericks, in 1971. At that time, three faculty members, two adjuncts, and one administrative assistant were involved. Today, the Center has grown to nine faculty, two full-time lecturers, and one administrative assistant, along with two funded graduate assistants, and a host of adjuncts. And in the meantime it has been renamed as the “Literacy Center,” in recognition of other important elements of literacy in addition to reading. Since the inception of the Center, faculty have been providing in-service training and consulting to schools and school districts across the state, regionally and on an international basis. Over the past 40 years, the Literacy Center has been servicing directly or indirectly people from birth through adulthood, as it is not only working with elementary-aged students, but also with preschool-aged, secondary students, and adult learners. The Center’s work with school-aged children currently includes an after school tutorial and diagnostic program on Tuesdays and Thursdays, a Saturday morning Academy, and a Summer Literacy Academy.

Our vision is that, in the following years, the Literacy Center will evolve into an interdisciplinary center for the study, evaluation and development of literacy practices across diverse contexts and populations, at the local, national, and international level. The Literacy Center will become more intensely involved in research, evaluation, and development projects that pertain to reading communities and lifelong reading, as well as to ways in which technologies impact literacy practices and new modes of conceptualizing literacy. The Center will adhere to the motto that “A lifelong learner is first and foremost a lifelong reader,” but will also study, evaluate, and develop multiple literacies as they are emerging in contemporary culture, which include among others, visual, media, information, digital, critical, cultural, and participatory literacies. In general, the Literacy Center’s mission will be to engage in design-based research interventions and develop evidence-based practices and actions, in order to prepare people for their literacy and learning futures, addressing the following crucial questions:

  • What are the meanings of literacy in the 21st Century?
  • What are the skills, strategies, and dispositions required for successful reading and writing, as well as learning, communicating and participating?
  • What pedagogies, texts, policies, and actions are needed to empower individuals to function as literate citizens at the local, state, national, and global level?

To address these questions, the Center will:

  • Engage in basic and applied research in lifelong reading, literacy, multiliteracies, and literature for children and young adults;
  • Develop and apply innovative research and assessment methodologies to address complex literacy-related issues;
  • Identify and promote best practices in literacy education; and
  • Provide evidence-based practices, policies, actions, and resources to support all kinds of literacies.

To achieve all of the above, the Center will need to focus on three major priorities: (a) increase its collaborations and partnerships with local schools and communities, as well as with state, national, and international institutions and organizations; (b) engage in successful grant writing to support innovative literacy programs; and (c) acquire its own, state-of-the-art space.

A state-of-the-art building to house the Literacy Center will be pivotal to its development. The Center’s new space would be highly versatile, in the sense that it would facilitate diverse activities for diverse audiences; from providing the necessary infrastructure for research teams and consortia, to providing an attractive space for children to engage in creative language play as they interact with students, teachers, parents, and experts. The new building would be a place where children could receive support in any literacy skill; a place for English language learners of all ages; a place for illiterate adults; a place where teachers can get professional development and parents can turn to for guidance and support. This space would house a children’s book review center, teacher resource materials, and an ongoing research library for youth literatures and literacies. The Literacy Center is currently looking for like-minded partners and sponsors, who will share and support this vision; a vision that is bound to have substantial positive effects on literacy practices across ages, groups of people, and localities.

Parent Comments

Parents’ Comments about last year’s Summer Literacy Academy

“The best aspect is the new excitement my child has for reading. What was tedious is now fun. Whatever you did for motivation works well!”

 “We love that the teachers can focus the full camp day on literacy. In school, the kids only get a fraction of time dedicated to reading. We also love that the camp puts the ‘FUN’ back into reading!”

“The best thing about the program was the ability of the teachers to meet my child at his level and ability, rather than insisting he fit into a predetermined mold.”

 “At first I was worried that the boys would not enjoy the program and or whine about having to go… I was thrilled when they loved it! They looked forward to going every day and had positive things to say about it. We could not have been happier with the program!”

“Jamie was very effective for my younger child. Love that she followed a nature theme for the class, perfect for summer. Her instruction gave Andrew the boost he needed to read for enjoyment.”

“Mac told me the day before the camp ended that he ‘Loved reading!’ Mission accomplished!!!! I loved that ‘fun’ stuff was incorporated in to the program so as a summer program it was more fun and it kept Mac interested.”