A Novel Idea: The History of the Science of Reading

A Novel Idea: The History of the Science of Reading

Host Meg Mechelke explores the history of the science of reading and literacy instruction in the United States.


May 24, 2023 4 mins

A brand new, 8-episode podcast series, brought to you by the Iowa Reading Research Center, explores the historical roots of today’s science of reading movement.

Learn More

“U.S. education achievement slides backwards,” Jill Barshay, The Hechinger Report

Episode transcript and sources

A Novel Idea website:


Mark as Played

What is the science of reading? And why is everyone in the literacy community talking about it?

In this episode, we explore the current state of the science of reading movement. Along with our original reporting, you’ll hear from: 

Mark as Played
June 15, 2023 39 mins

Hear ye, hear ye! In this episode, we travel all the way back to the 17th and 18th centuries to examine the Enlightenment-era roots of reading instruction as we know it. We will introduce several major players in the early days of literacy education, and examine the ways in which their actions have influenced today’s conversations surrounding literacy. Plus, hear from Natalie Wexler (Twitter: @natwexler), author of The Knowledge Ga...

Mark as Played
June 22, 2023 31 mins

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go!” In this episode, find out how children’s picture books became a major battleground for debates about literacy instruction. Plus, hear insights from author Natalie Wexler (Twitter: @natwexler) and Dr. Fumiko Hoeft (Twitter: @FumikoHoeft), director of the University of Connecticut Brain Imaging Research Center.


Mark as Played
June 29, 2023 39 mins

In this episode, we take a deep dive into the work of several influential researchers in the early days of the science of reading. These pioneers of literacy research paved the way for the development of evidence-based instruction of today and played major roles in advocating for effective, equitable literacy instruction for all students. Plus, hear from:

  • Natalie Wexler (Twitter: @natwexler), author, The Knowledge Gap
  • Dr. Fumiko ...
Mark as Played

Whole language is one of the most talked about developments in literacy instruction in the past several decades. In this episode of A Novel Idea, we take a look at the history and founders of this popular teaching philosophy and examine its effects on contemporary instruction. Featuring insight from:

  • Dr. G. Reid Lyon, former director, NICHD
  • Natalie Wexler (Twitter: @natwexler), author, The Knowledge Gap
  • Kate Will, program coordina...
Mark as Played
July 13, 2023 41 mins

Following the explosion of the Reading Wars in California, a push for nationwide literacy legislation swept the nation. In this episode of A Novel Idea we explore the consequences of this movement, including the influence of legislative efforts including The National Reading Panel and Reading First. Featuring thoughts from:

  • Dr. G. Reid Lyon, former director, NICHD 
  • Natalie Wexler (Twitter: @natwexler), author, The Knowledge Gap 
  • D...
Mark as Played
July 13, 2023 31 mins

In the 1990s, debates over literacy instruction reached a tipping point in the nation’s most populous state. Learn more about the reading crisis in California and the start of the so-called “Reading Wars” in this episode of A Novel Idea. Plus, hear from:

  • Dr. G. Reid Lyon, former director, NICHD
  • Dr. Maryanne Wolf, author, Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain and Dyslexia, Fluency, and the Brain
  • Dr. Timot...
Mark as Played

Our journey through the history of literacy instruction in the United States has brought us to the very place we started: the current science of reading movement that has taken the education field by storm. In this concluding episode of A Novel Idea, we discuss the future of the science of reading movement and hear input from a variety of experts, including:

  • Emily Hanford (Twitter: @ehanford), senior producer and correspondent, ...
Mark as Played

Popular Podcasts

    Current and classic episodes, featuring compelling true-crime mysteries, powerful documentaries and in-depth investigations.

    Stuff You Should Know

    If you've ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks, then look no further. Josh and Chuck have you covered.

    The Nikki Glaser Podcast

    Every week comedian and infamous roaster Nikki Glaser provides a fun, fast-paced, and brutally honest look into current pop-culture and her own personal life.

    White Devil

    Shootings are not unusual in Belize. Shootings of cops are. When a wealthy woman – part of one of the most powerful families in Belize – is found on a pier late at night, next to a body, it becomes the country’s biggest news story in a generation. New episodes every Monday!

    Start Here

    A straightforward look at the day's top news in 20 minutes. Powered by ABC News. Hosted by Brad Mielke.

Advertise With Us
Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.


© 2024 iHeartMedia, Inc.