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Iowa Reading Research Center Resources

Resources library

As the home for reading research in Iowa, it is an important part of the mission of the Iowa Reading Research Center to exist as a resource for evidence-based literacy information. We provide guidance and information through a variety of literacy resources listed below, created by the Iowa Reading Research Center or compiled from other sources.

We also provide a collection of web-based literacy resources for families and educators, as well as literacy-related services for Iowa’s colleges and universities, including dyslexia training and training on the statewide data system for universal screening and progress monitoring.

We frequently share additional literacy resources via social media through Facebook and Twitter.

Iowa Reading Research Center Original Resources

This listing of resources created by Iowa Reading Research Center staff and other collaborators includes commonly used terms, parent checklists, and other supporting materials.

Parent Support Checklist

This checklist outlines the steps family members can take when they have concerns regarding their child’s reading performance.

PDF iconParent Support Checklist

English Language Learner Facilitation Guides

Each guide contains step-by-step directions for an educator or other facilitator to help family members of students who are English learners utilize web-based literacy activities at home with their children in order to help their child become a more successful reader.

Fun and Effective Ways to Read to Children

This guide provides an overall orientation to Colorin Colorado, a national multimedia project offering a wealth of bilingual, research-based information, activities, and advice for educators and families of English language learners.

PDF icon"Fun and Effective Ways to Read to Children" facilitation guide

Reading Tips for Parents

This facilitation guide features Reading Rockets, a website that provides family members tips for helping kids become successful readers. Information can be searched by age or grade, disability area, and home language.

PDF icon"Reading Tips for Parents" facilitation guide

International Children’s Digital Library

This guide explores a collection of searchable digital books available in multiple languages.

PDF icon"International Children's Digital Library" facilitation guide

Tips for Teaching Your Child About Phenomes

This facilitation guide focuses on a section of the Colorin Colorado and Reading Rockets websites that offer at-home activities family members can use to help their children understand the sounds in words.

PDF icon"Tips for Teaching Your Child About Phenomes" facilitation guide

Lesson Plans

Step-by-step plans to use in the classroom when instructing a specific literacy skill or topic.

Activating Background Knowledge Elementary and Middle School Example Lesson Plans

These plans use a famous speech (middle school) and a children's book on frogs (elementary school) as texts and t-chart graphic and semantic web graphic organizers to teach background knowledge. Related blog post.

PDF icon"Activating Background Knowledge Middle School Example Lesson Plan

PDF iconActivating Background Knowledge Elementary School Example Lesson Plan

Reading Comprehension Graphic Organizers

Graphic organizers are a tool that can be used at home or in the classroom for facilitating different types of reading comprehension.

Asking Questions of Readers in the Lower Grades (Pre-Kindergarten-Fourth Grade)

This organizer helps readers develop comprehension skills by learning how to ask questions and look for the answers in a text.

PDF icon"Asking Questions of Readers in the Lower Grades (Pre-Kindergarten-Fourth Grade)" graphic organizer

Asking Questions of Readers in the Upper Grades (Fifth Grade and Up)

This organizer helps readers develop comprehension skills by learning how to ask questions and look for the answers in a text.

PDF icon"Asking Questions of Readers in the Upper Grades (Fifth Grade and Up)" graphic organizer

Making Inferences

Using two prompts, users will be able to use this organizer to practice inferencing skills, which are critical for reading comprehension.

PDF icon"Making Inferences" graphic organizer

Forming Opinions

This tool helps users organize their thoughts and learn to form opinions about their reading.

PDF icon"Forming Opinions" graphic organizer

What Am I Thinking Organizer

Users of this tool are encouraged to write down their thoughts about a text in four different ways (opinion, reaction, connection, and visualization) and provide reasons from the text for their thoughts.

PDF icon"What am I Thinking" graphic organizer

Dialogic Reading Bookmarks

A set of printable bookmarks to facilitate the three tiers of questions an adult can pose when practicing dialogic reading with a child. Dialogic reading engages the adult and child in a dialogue around the text they are reading.


CROWD is used to remember the types of basic questions to ask: completion, recall, open-ended, “wh” questions, and distancing.

PDF iconSet of CROWD bookmarks


PEER questions are meant to encourage deeper responses about a text, leading to a conversation beyond one-word answers.

PDF iconSet of PEER bookmarks

White Papers From Collaborators

Reports by Iowa Reading Research Center academic collaborators and partners are available for viewing or download. These reports offer guiding information on a specific topic or project related to reading and literacy instruction.

How to Make Handwriting Part of Early Literacy Instruction

By Shawn Datchuk, Assistant Professor, University of Iowa College of Education

This white paper explains how handwriting assessments can be used to analyze a student’s handwriting and then offers instructional techniques to improve the handwriting of elementary-aged students.

PDF iconHow to Make Handwriting Part of Early Literacy Instruction

Strong Girls Read Strong Books

By Renita Schmidt, Ph.D., Associate Professor, and Amanda Haertling Thein, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Iowa College of Education

The authors explain how they go about selecting texts for their afterschool reading club that helps girls grow into strong women through reading books featuring strong female protagonists. They also highlight key practices they have found useful in reading and responding to those texts.

PDF iconStrong Girls Read Strong Books

The Power of Interactive Read Alouds

By Gwen Marra, Ed.D.

Through read alouds that utilize dialogic reading, children can develop their use of new vocabulary in a meaningful way, make connections between new and previously-learned information, and learn literary elements like character, point of view, and plot.

PDF iconThe Power of Interactive Read Alouds

Related: PDF iconblank version of the Dialogic Reading Planning Form included in the report.

Family Letters for Schools

The Iowa Department of Education provides letter templates and other documents to assist with implementation of the state’s early literacy laws. The letters are intended to assist schools in communicating with families about universal screening assessments and results.

The documents begin on Page 28 of the “Early Literacy Technical Assistance Appendices.”

Pronunciation Guides for Letter Sounds

These videos created by the Iowa Department of Education feature consonant and vowel sounds educators will encounter while administering assessments of and providing instruction in phonics.

Letter Sounds Video

Vowel Sounds Video