Early Literacy Advocate & Author of Reading for Our Lives: A Literacy Action Plan from Birth to Six
Author and literacy advocate Maya Smart argues that to attain the consciousness, solidarity, and equity our society so desperately needs, we must be informed and deliberate in raising a nation of readers. Read More >
Study after study shows that the brain architecture for reading develops rapidly during infancy, and early language experiences are critical to building it. Yet parents, who are children’s primary “teachers” in the pivotal first years of life, often don’t know what to do, when, or how. In this presentation, Maya Smart describes how reading unfolds from birth through the early elementary years and outlines what caregivers can do to nurture it at each stage. Audiences leave armed with information about the six parent levers for literacy success, plus a toolkit of easy and research-based ways to nurture their children’s language and literacy development from the start.
The tragedy of poor reading achievement dipping to new lows in pandemic times is affecting the prospects of a whole generation—and of the society that will share their future. Neuroimaging data reveals that the verbal, motor, and overall cognitive performance of Covid babies is much lower than pre-pandemic babies. They show reduced vocalizations, delayed language development, and impaired vocabularies, all undercutting their reading readiness. It’s critical to get all hands on deck to give all today’s kids a shot at the great equalizing and empowering force of literacy. In this keynote, Smart pairs information about cutting-edge research findings with inspiring stories of people within and outside of the education sector who’ve made it their business to champion reading for all. Audiences leave with the practical knowledge and inspiration to launch early literacy efforts from within their own spheres of influence.
"We invited Maya to speak at our first post-pandemic live event and she delivered an excellent, customized message that resonated with our audience and won a standing ovation. I love how she researched our mission, history, and impact and weaved familiar United Way quotes, themes, and ideas into her presentation. Plus, she's a pleasure to work with behind the scenes and inspires with her work and her words."
"We featured Maya and her book, Reading for Our Lives, in a live webinar for parent educators, librarians, speech therapists, and home visitors. She shared wonderful insights that were really tailored to their interests and needs, and it was so amazing to watch the audience come along with real-time realizations in the chat. I loved, loved, loved watching them connect the dots between language and literacy and to be so engaged and excited by the information! She was prepared and present. I would highly recommend Maya for presentations to parents and the professionals who support them."
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