1st Edition

Layers of Learning Using Read-Alouds to Connect Literacy and Caring Conversations

By JoEllen McCarthy Copyright 2023

    What could happen if we viewed every read aloud as an invitation to learn more about literacy and ourselves? In Layers of Learning: Using Read Alouds to Connect Literacy and Caring Conversations, author JoEllen McCarthy explores read aloud strategies designed to enhance your reading and writing standards by capitalizing on the way literature can impact caring communities. Layers of Learning is structured around four key elements: Community, Agency, Respect, and Empowerment, or CARE. The book provides tools necessary to emphasize reading and writing connections, character education, and culturally responsive teaching, all while championing the power of read alouds. Inside you’ll find:

      Over 200 picture book suggestions introducing the Heartprint Framework , which demonstrates how you can layer literacy with life lessons 60 read aloud based connections that support caring classroom conversations, lesson planning, and extensions Instructional opportunities for nurturing readers and writers during workshop time, small-group gatherings, or individual conferring sessions Literacy Snapshot photo essays with ideas on how to adopt or adapt Continuing connections with additional resources and invitations for further learning

    Layers of Learning pulls together the ideas that the books we share not only serve an academic purpose, but also convey big, affective messages. This can lead to richer and more meaningful classroom conversations.

    Part I: Learning as Heartwork  Chapter 1: The Literacy Connections to Community; Chapter 2: The Power of Read-Alouds On and Off the Page; Chapter 3: The Heartprint Framework; Chapter 4: The Elements of Care; Part II: Heartprint Connections  Chapter 5: Community; Chapter 6: Agency; Chapter 7: Respect; Chapter 8: Empowerment


    JoEllen McCarthy, an educator for 20+ years, is a lifelong learner and literacy specialist who spends her days teaching and learning alongside students, teachers and administrators to support literacy instruction, as well as student-centered collaborative coaching cycles. As The Educator Collaborative's Book Ambassador, she spreads her enthusiasm for literature through an exploration of mentor texts that emphasize reading and writing connections through conversations about practices that contribute to caring, responsive, classroom communities. A frequent presenter at regional and national conferences, JoEllen works hands-on in schools and districts to impact professional literacy communities with research and standards-aligned best practices that recognize students as our most important aspect of the curriculum. She is passionate about the heart work of teaching and works to emphasize reading and writing connections, character education, responsive classrooms, and culturally responsive teaching, while championing the power of read alouds and choice to affect independent readers, writers and thinkers. JoEllen facilitates pedagogy with differentiation within the workshop model as a method and mindset for reaching all learners.JoEllen holds degrees from Loyola, Maryland, NYU, and an administrative degree specializing in staff development from Hofstra. She currently serves as a classroom teacher, literacy specialist, and consultant for the organization she founded, Always Learning. In her role as a consultant for The Educator Collaborative, JoEllen is a part of a think tank of nationally known thought leaders who provide innovative professional development opportunities through online study series, webinars, on site speaking engagements, and site based professional development. She can be found spreading #booklove and #PDlove by tweeting daily about reading, writing and learning, sharing literacy snapshots, book titles and more at @JoEllenMcCarthy.

    "This book is going to help so many people encounter the best short texts this world has to offer our students, and we are lucky that JoEllen has spent her career working so hard to build and share this knowledge.” 

    Kate and Maggie Roberts, authors and guest teachers

    “If JoEllen McCarthy were a chef, then Layers of Learning would be her cookbook. These carefully selected recipes for read-alouds are inventive and engaging. With heartlove, she breaks down the science and the art of sharing picture books. Come on in her kitchen, the results are delicious.”

    Kwame Alexander, New York Times Bestselling author, winner of the Newbery (The Crossover), and Caldecott (The Undefeated), and the founding editor of Versify

    “In this important book, JoEllen McCarthy reminds us that the heart of read-aloud is in the community. Read-aloud routines have the power to support readers and create safe spaces for students to make sense of our world and more. JoEllen shares books and examples of the important ways that read-aloud in classrooms works to simultaneously grow readers’ skills and to grow their hearts.”

    Franki Sibberson, teacher, author, and NCTE past-president

    Layers of Learning stole my heart from beginning to end. It is practical, passionate, and compassionate. It is the guide you want to have at hand, to refer to often, throughout your teaching day and year.”

    Georgia Heard, author, poet, and Teachers College Reading and Writing Project founding member

    “The world needs this book NOW. JoEllen McCarthy masterfully weaves together reading and writing instruction through the lens of social emotional learning to help students understand themselves, each other, and the world. Using books as co-teachers, Layers of Learning guides readers to identify the why and recognize that “literacy has the power to influence and change lives.” A timely book that identifies the most important lessons we may teach: connection, compassion and care. Literacy has the power to influence and change lives.”

    Kristin Ziemke, Innovation Specialist Big Shoulders Fund and co-author Amplify and Read the World

    Layers of Learning provides an amazing array of powerful picture books to connect hearts and learning. Through a teacher-friendly framework, JoEllen McCarthy invites us into ways we can blur the lines between our hearts, our heads, and our hands.”

    John Schu, Scholastic Book Ambassador

    "This wonderful book takes teachers by the hand and heart and leads them on a journey of connection to picture books, themselves, and their students of any age. Inspiring. Motivating. A reminder of the impact teachers have on kids' lives. This spectacular guide makes me long to teach again."

    Lynda Mullaly Hunt, New York Times best-selling author of Fish in a Tree and Shouting at the Rain

    “JoEllen McCarthy’s heart shines through each sentence with a focus on building community and finding our common humanity through story with a spotlight on the natural connections between reading and writing."

    Lester Laminack, professor emeritus, Western Carolina University