Helping kids become better readers and life-long learners.

Written by parents, a former teacher, and a librarian, our Heart of the Matter blog focuses on reading deficiency, improving reading engagement, and much more. We at Evanced are keenly interested in primary and secondary education issues, and we regularly highlight best practices, raise tough questions about child literacy, discuss what’s working for our kids—and what’s not—and explore creative solutions for improving reading proficiency.


Four Ways to Fuel Your Library

Some remarkable teacher librarians—Matthew Winner, Andy Plemmons, Shawna Ford, Sherry Gick, and Shannon Miller—recently joined us at Evanced in Indianapolis for an intensive 24-hour think tank on the future role of school libraries and librarians in engaging kids in reading. We also discussed their early adoption of relevant technology. So, just what did they have… Read more »

It Takes More than Badges to Motivate Kids

One of the hot new trends in both education and library circles revolves around gamification. That’s the process of turning otherwise commonplace activities into a game in order to motivate users to participate. Many popular reading programs now institute badging systems as a fun way to reward kids for participating in the book logging activities…. Read more »

Reading Development Takes Off with These Key Ingredients

As we explore reading deficiency in the United States, we’ve talked a lot about motivation. Among the things that most often go overlooked in the discussion is the power of autonomy for a learner. Autonomy is a powerful force for good in the life of a child. Consider the topic of goal setting for a… Read more »

Develop a Mastery Mindset in Your Students

In recent weeks, we’ve talked a lot about motivation and its relationship to reading deficiency in kids. As we begin to process lesson plans and activities that inspire readers, consider this: the very goals we set for our students—and the way we set them—can make or break their motivation to learn. Achievement goal theory examines… Read more »

Interest Tree Discoveries Can Unlock Learning

Our reading engagement team is just scratching the surface, when it comes to engaging kids via their deepest interests. So far this year our team has spent time with kids ages seven through 12 in the U.S. and the U.K. We’ve invited them to think about the subjects and activities they truly love and then create their very own… Read more »

Bullying Goes Pro

As we continue to examine the effects and causes of reading deficiency, we can add bullying to the list of potential barriers to success for kids. Interestingly, bullying doesn’t always take the form we expect it to. Certainly, nine-year-olds get shoved around on the playground, but what about a professional athlete in his prime? Can… Read more »

External Motivation and the Desire to Read within Children

In discussing the role of motivation in helping children become avid readers, it’s clear that internal motivation drives much a reader’s behavior. Internal motivation occurs when a child enjoys reading because it’s fun or because he or she is interested in the subject matter. But what about external motivators? Can punishments or prizes and rewards help generate… Read more »

Top 10 Reasons to PLAY with Your Kids this Holiday Weekend

There is certainly more to this holiday weekend than just eating and shopping. Find time to PLAY with your kids as we celebrate National Games and Puzzles Week!  PLAY . . . #10     Engages kids in critical thinking and problem solving #9       Develops physical coordination skills #8       Improves ability to focus #7       Encourages… Read more »

Internal Motivation and the Desire to Read within Children

In our continuing series on the literacy crisis facing the United States, we recently came to the question of motivation. We know that motivation drives the education process for children. We think we know what motivation is, but how does that flesh itself out in the lives of school-aged kids in the United States? What… Read more »

Meet Makenzie: ‘Don’t Let a Learning Disability Get in the Way’

The following is the third in our three-part series on educating and parenting children with different ability levels. Part one looked at average students. Part two dealt with gifted students. Part three relates to students facing unusual difficulty in school. “I used to hate reading, but now I read everything and read whenever I can.”… Read more »

Giving a Gift to the Gifted Child

This is the second in a multi-part look at raising and educating kids who fall along different points of the educational spectrum. As we hiked through the woods, I could hear them chanting. “One ring to rule them all! One ring to find them…” I suppose you could call them my own personal band of hobbits…. Read more »

It’s Time to Take Back the Word ‘Average’

Saying that a student is “average” sounds almost like an insult, but it shouldn’t. All children are special and unique in their own ways, but that doesn’t mean they are entirely dissimilar from other children. Saying a student is average is a shorthand way of indicating there are many other children of comparable abilities and learning… Read more »

Five Ideas to Help Structure Motivating Learning Activities for Kids

On Monday, we offered up three ways parents and teachers can better motivate young readers. As we take aim at the literacy crisis, here are more tips that can help engage young minds and inspire them to pick up a book and read. Research indicates there are several ways to structure activities to enhance a… Read more »

5 Great Takeaways from “Written by a Kid”

If you haven’t seen the “Written by a Kid” series yet, you should. As advertised, the short episodes are conceived entirely by young children and are acted out and animated by some rather high-profile adults. For instance, the first in the series, “Scary Smash,” includes Dave Foley (from “Kids in the Hall” and “News Radio” fame), Joss Whedon… Read more »

Pinpointing Signs and Causes of Reading-Related Stress

Not everyone loves to read as much as you do. As we kick off Teen Read Week, it’s important for parents, teachers, and librarians to remember that not everyone enjoys reading. For many young people, reading is stressful. Whether it’s due to physical issues such as poor eyesight, inadequate vision correction, a lack of prior… Read more »