Dr. Dana Suskind
Surgeon and social scientist Dana Suskind is a leading authority on the role parents and caregivers play in promoting children’s healthy brain development. My ideas about early language and learning have been deeply influenced by her work as founder and co-director of the TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health, and I adore her books. I highly recommend them for every parent of young children because of their signature mix of research rigor, courageous empathy, and personal revelation. Her writing helps parents nurture their children’s wellbeing while also seeing themselves as integral parts of a society that owes every child maximum support. She elegantly melds the personal and political, thereby modeling how we may do the same.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children is a professional membership organization for early childhood educators and caregivers. Its mission is to promote high-quality early learning for all young children by connecting early childhood practice, policy, and research. The NAEYC website has a section for families with research-based tips and ideas for parents on topics relating to child development, literacy, and much more. The NAEYC blog publishes helpful, readable articles with titles like Conversations with Children: Tips for Using Words in Powerful Ways and Communicating with Baby: Tips and Milestones from Birth to Age 5.
I first learned of Osborne’s work to advance support for maternal care, children, and families in the first years of life when she gave a presentation on nurse home-visiting programs to a St. David’s Foundation committee I served on in Austin in 2018. I’ve followed her work since then and am a huge fan of her efforts to align state policy with what we know to be best for families. Osborne directs the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development. Parents who are ready to bring advocacy into their toolkits should look to the center’s researchers and policy experts for insight about the public investments that will help produce positive results for young children and society. Their work isn’t about language and literacy skill-building per se, but rather about the government infrastructure needed to support parents as kids’ first teachers.
Timothy Shanahan is a respected literacy expert who translates research and offers practical guidance to help teachers help students with reading achievement. He’s taught first grade, written or edited two hundred literacy education articles, and chaired major federal reading-research review panels. A former first-grade teacher and director of reading for the Chicago Public Schools, Shanahan is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he was Founding Director of the UIC Center for Literacy. His blog is primarily aimed at teachers and focuses on elementary-aged children, but its content is informative and his approach to evaluating research is invaluable for parents who want to learn to dig deeper themselves.
I read everything Rebecca Treiman writes about how children learn to read, spell, and write. She may be the most frequently cited person in my book, because of her lab’s relentless investigation of the cognitive and linguistic skills that play into acquiring literacy. She researches how children use their phonological knowledge and letter knowledge to make sense of writing. Plus, she explores the English writing system itself to illuminate its patterns and principles.
The National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) is a 50-plus-year-old organization with a mission to improve and advance the quality of life for black children and families through education and advocacy. NBCDI works on developing and delivering culturally relevant, evidence-based resources adapted to the unique strengths and needs of black children around issues including early childhood education, literacy, and more. With the support of an affiliate network around the country, NBCDI advocates for policies at the federal, state, and local levels that support equitable systems and resource allocations for black children and families.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is a professional membership organization serving board-certified pediatricians and pediatric specialists. Its mission is to support the health, safety, and wellbeing of children from infancy through young adulthood. The AAP publishes a parenting website, HealthyChildren.org, with a plethora of research-based information about child developmental milestones and how to support healthy development in kids.
Anne Charity Hudley
Anne Harper Charity Hudley is a linguist who studies English language variation among students in U.S. schools and its connection to educational practices and policies. Hudley has created workshops on language variation for educators, and won the 2019 Linguistic Society of America Linguistics, Language, and The Public Award for her influence on the classroom experience of users of nonstandard varieties of English. She currently serves as a professor of education at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education in collaboration with the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, as well as a professor of African and African-American Studies and Linguistics, by courtesy. Her books and research publications investigate language variations and high-impact policies for underrepresented students.
Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD is a pediatrician working in the public interest. He blends the roles of physician, occasional children’s librarian, educator, public health professional and child health advocate. With graduate degrees in public health, children’s librarianship, physician assistant studies, and medicine, he brings a unique combination of interests and experience together.