My story

Reading is My Passion. Period.

As a journalist, I spent years researching how to get kids ready for reading. As a mother, I got to test it out myself. I share the knowledge and experience I accumulated in my book, Reading for Our Lives: A Literacy Action Plan from Birth to Six

Read Well. Live Well.

To raise a nation of readers, parents and caregivers need science-backed information, plus tips and tools to put it into practice in daily life with young kids. To help, I publish book lists, literacy activities, and other free family resources weekly on

I also hold workshops and speak publicly on topics that revolve around reading, education, and advocating in support of literacy for all.

My Bookish Life

In my career, I’ve written hundreds of articles, including breaking news stories, book reviews, features, and op-eds for a wide range of publications. I’ve addressed audiences ranging from 200 to 2,000 at conventions, commencements, and literary events.

Along the way, I’ve interviewed NY Times bestselling authors like Zadie Smith, Jacqueline Woodson, Angie Thomas, Salman Rushdie, and Colson Whitehead; been a community fellow with the Center for Innovation in Race, Teaching, and Curriculum at the University of Texas; and served on the boards of book festivals, library foundations, and literacy initiatives.

I hold a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School at Northwestern and a bachelor’s in social studies with honors from Harvard. I currently serve as affiliated faculty in Educational Policy and Leadership in the College of Education at Marquette University.

Maya Payne Smart offers a living example of how to make books and stories a joyful part of children’s lives as well as a vehicle to lift communities.

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Meg Medina, Newbery Medal-winning author of Merci Suarez Changes Gears

About Maya?

Check out our press kit for an official bio and high-res images. Press Kit