Reading Plus Session at 2021 ALA Annual Conference to Focus on Importance of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Educational Content

Reading Plus and Highlights for Children Unite for Presentation on the Importance of Texts Serving as Mirrors and Windows for Readers

WINOOSKI, Vt., June 23, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Reading Plus, an evidence-based online program that uses personalized instruction to improve students’ reading proficiency, today announced it is co-presenting the session “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Why Content Matters” with staff from Highlights For Children Magazine at the virtual American Library Association (ALA) 2021 Annual Conference and Exhibition. Attendees can view the presentation on-demand for the duration of the event, taking place June 23-29.

Reading Plus’s Kerry Mescallado, managing editor, and Samantha Burns, editor, are joined by Judy Burke, Highlights’s Editor, and Carra Pappalardo, Director of Global Content, for the 30-minute session that explores the importance of content.

“The content students read affects how they see themselves and others, so it’s crucial to provide them with texts that respect and reflect all cultures, backgrounds, and personal interests,” said Randi Bender, chief content officer at Reading Plus. “As a literary solutions provider, we take this responsibility very seriously and aim to support students on their path to becoming engaged global citizens. Reading Plus is honored to speak on this important topic with leadership from our like-minded publishing partner, Highlights.”

The presentation will answer:

  • What role does content selection have in promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion?
  • How do texts act as mirrors and windows for students?
  • In what ways does content help readers expand their worldview and develop empathy, appreciation, and understanding?
  • Why is it important for students to see themselves reflected in reading selections?
  • How do Reading Plus and Highlights keep equity, diversity, and inclusion central to their work and mission?

Reading Plus is an adaptive literacy program that is used by more than 1 million students across the country. It develops comprehension, fluency, stamina, vocabulary, and motivation to read in students—including Tiers 1-3 and multilingual learners—and improves reading proficiency by 2.5-grade levels in a single school year. Last year, Reading Plus announced that it doubled its content library to more than 2,500 engaging and diverse selections, with a focus on representing the experiences of people of color and others who are traditionally underrepresented.

Highlights is a global media brand dedicated to helping children become curious, creative, caring, and confident through engaging content and experiences that are focused on nurturing and developing the whole child. Highlights reaches children 0–12 with its most popular magazines and books, and on multi-platform digital experiences, digital apps, toys/games, a podcast, and more.

Through June 26, ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition attendees can visit Reading Plus’s virtual booth to chat with representatives on how the program fits the needs of districts and educators.

To learn more about Reading Plus, visit

Reading Plus is an evidence-based, online program that provides personalized instruction and intervention for students, improving reading proficiency by 2.5 grade levels in a single school year. The adaptive literacy program develops fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary, while also measuring student motivation. It supports students with diverse needs, including multilingual learners, students who qualify for special education services, RTI/MTSS Tiers 1–3, and advanced readers. Reading Plus provides educators with an easy-to-use management and reporting system, extensive resources to guide differentiated instruction, professional development, and highly rated customer support. Used in more than 7,800 schools, the Reading Plus program is helping over 1 million students become confident, lifelong readers. For more information, visit