You’re Invited: Join Us for the Reading with Purpose Summit: Understanding and Aligning Instructional Practice with the Science of Reading

By Colin Reublinger | May 7 2024 | General

Join us Monday, June 10th for an in-person professional learning collaboration hosted by Penguin Random House and Molly Ness, PhD., Reading with Purpose Summit: Understanding and Aligning Instructional Practice with the Science of Reading




Summit Description and Schedule

As we align instruction with the science of reading, it is paramount to support teachers in understanding the instructional opportunities behind various types of text: controlled / decodable, leveled, and authentic. This day of learning provides the following: (1) practical, engaging strategies to maximize diverse types of text with students of all levels and abilities, (2) an understanding of the role of various text types, and (3) affirmation for the use of read-alouds, independent reading, and the role of classroom and school libraries.

Attendees – teachers, school / district leaders, and librarians – will gain clarity around the ways to integrate different texts across the instructional day, as well as reinvigorated energy about the diverse, high-quality texts available from Penguin Random House.

The event will also feature an exciting panel of award-winning Penguin Random House authors discussing their books.


Event Check-in


Welcome and Frame the Day

Molly Ness, PhD.

Session 1

Fluency Routines to Accompany Decodable Texts
Melissa Orkin, PhD.

This workshop will introduce participants to a routine that develops the foundational skills necessary for reading fluency by utilizing popular decodable texts. Workshop strategies will show teachers how to incorporate the sounds, letter patterns, trick words, phrases, vocabulary, and sentences from decodable texts into evidence-based instructional routines that builds students’ automaticity and comprehension. By the conclusion of the workshop, participants will be able to utilize a backwards planning approach to develop fluency routines for small group or intervention literacy support.

Session 2

Ins and (Getting) Out of Decodable Text:
The Value of Decodable Text and Methods for Transitioning to Authentic Text
Esther Klein Friedman, PhD.

This presentation will review the role of decodable text as a tool in phonics acquisition and in building automaticity in decoding. We will explore ways that irregular words are addressed early on in reading instruction and how doing so begins to set the stage for tackling text that is increasingly less decodable. Finally, we will discuss strategies for making the jump to authentic text — the ultimately goal in reading instruction and development.

Author Panel and Lunch

Panel Discussion with Penguin Random House Featured Authors
moderated by Molly Ness, PhD.

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, author of Operation Sisterhood

Veera Hiranandani, author of The Night Diary

Greg Pizzoli, author of Lucky Duck

Session 3

The Role of Authentic Text in Upper Elementary Grades
Doug Distefano, PhD.

Research indicates that teacher read-alouds significantly decline when students reach age nine. In this session, we focus on ensuring high-quality read-alouds in upper elementary classrooms. Showcasing authentic literature, we will unpack rich read-alouds that are easy, practical, and engaging. Participants will understand the role of read-alouds in building language comprehension in upper elementary classrooms.

Wrap-up Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion and Q and A with Featured Speakers
moderated by Molly Ness, PhD.


Featured Speakers:

Molly Ness, PhD is a former classroom teacher, a reading researcher, and a teacher educator. She earned a doctorate in reading education at the University of Virginia and spent 16 years as an associate professor at Fordham University. The author of five books and numerous articles, Molly serves on the Board of Directors for the International Literacy Association. Dr. Ness has extensive experience in reading clinics, consulting with school districts, leading professional development, and advising school systems on research-based reading instruction. She is the creator of the End Book Deserts podcast, and on the board of the New York chapter of the Reading League. She was an invited expert on the New York City Mayor’s Literacy Advisory Council. When she is not reading and writing about reading and writing, she is shuttling her ice-hockey obsessed teenage daughter to practice or hiking with her poorly behaved goldendoodle.

Esther Klein Friedman, PhD has worked as a classroom and reading teacher, has delivered professional development in topics within the full range of literacy instruction, served as a principal, district and local instructional superintendent, and in central office roles as executive director of literacy and academic intervention. She currently serves as a literacy consultant to schools, districts, and educational organizations, as well as serving on a range of advisory groups in the literacy and advocacy community. As she has done for all her career, Esther tutors several nights a week, helping children and adults who struggle with literacy acquisition become successful readers and writers.

Doug Distefano, PhD received his doctorate degree in Literacy and Interdisciplinary Research from Fordham University. He received his Master’s degree in Supervision and Administration, Master’s of Science in Teaching and a Bachelor of Science degree from Fordham University. Dr. DiStefano has college teaching experience at the undergraduate and graduate level. He also has 27 years of experience as an elementary classroom teacher and as an educational consultant. Dr. DiStefano is a past Fulbright Teacher Exchange recipient of Durham, UK. He is also a past award recipient of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program at Columbia University, as a co-founder of #hackingracism. Dr. DiStefano is passionate about reading mysteries for himself and introducing his fifth-grade students to this passion. He also enjoys getting dirty as he explores nature and works to create an outdoor kindergarten where he currently teaches in Dobbs Ferry Union Free School District, New York.

Melissa Orkin, PhD is an educator and developmental psychologist who has instructed on literacy development and learning disabilities at Tufts University and Harvard University. Melissa has served as a reading teacher in the classroom and in clinical settings. Dr. Orkin also served as a program director at the Tufts University Center for Reading and Language Research where she led research initiatives and clinical offerings. Currently, Melissa works with schools and state departments of education to provide guidance and resources on literacy instruction through the educational organization, Crafting Minds.


Featured Penguin Random House Authors:

Veera Hiranandani, author of the Newbery Honor–winning The Night Diary, earned her MFA in creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College. She is the author of The Whole Story of Half a Girl, a Sydney Taylor Notable Book, and a South Asia Book Award finalist, and How to Find What You’re Not Looking For, winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award and the New York Historical Society Children’s History Book Prize. A former editor at Simon & Schuster, she now teaches in the Writing for Children and Young Adults MFA Program at The Vermont College of Fine Arts.


Greg Pizzoli is an author, illustrator, and screen printer from Philadelphia. His first picture book, The Watermelon Seed, was published by Disney-Hyperion Books and was the 2014 recipient of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award. Greg’s work has been featured in The New York Times, Communication Arts, 3×3 Magazine and he’s won two Portfolio Honor Awards from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. After college, Greg spent two years as a full-time volunteer in AmeriCORPS from 2005-2006. In 2009, he received his MFA from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he now teaches. Greg lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two unruly cats.


Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is the author of 8th Grade Superzero, It Doesn’t Take a Genius, the nonfiction books Above and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow and Someday Is Now: Clara Luper and the 1958 Oklahoma City Sit-Ins, and the upcoming Mae Makes a Way and Saving Earth: The Climate Crisis and the Fight for Our Future. She is the coauthor of the middle-grade novel Two Naomis, which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award, and its sequel, Naomis Too. Inspired by some of her favorite family stories and the city she loves, Operation Sisterhood is a celebration of the sweetness and spice of sisterhood. Olugbemisola is a member of the Brown Bookshelf and a former board member of We Need Diverse Books. She lives with her family in New York City, where she writes, makes things, and needs to get more sleep.