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Kelly B Cartwright

“My hope in writing Word Callers,” writes Kelly Cartwright,” is to share insights into what makes word callers tick, as well as effective interventions that can help these children learn to enjoy the rich meaningful world of reading that they are missing.” Her research has long focused on the importance of flexible thinking for skilled comprehension, and her word-and-picture card assessment and intervention developed as she observed that some students could read fluently but had surprising difficulty focusing on meaning.

Kelly is an expert on reading comprehension, children's (and adults’) thinking, and the development of literacy processes. Currently she is Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Teacher Preparation at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia, where she serves as Chair of the Department of Psychology. Kelly is editor of Literacy Processes: Cognitive Flexibility in Learning and Teaching, which was nominated for the Ed Fry book award in 2008, and she has published articles in journals such as The Reading Teacher, the Journal of Educational Psychology, the Journal of Literacy Research, the Journal of Child Language, Early Education and Development, and the Journal of Cognition and Development.

Kelly consults regularly with teachers and reading specialists in public and private schools around the country and is passionate about helping teachers discover the source of word callers’ difficulties so that they can better differentiate instruction for children who struggle with reading comprehension. Kelly’s work with word callers has struck a chord with reading teachers such as Sarah Sullivan from Gilberts, Illinois, who “consider it a much needed break-through in literacy pertaining to our collective need for a way to tap into reading comprehension via assessment and instruction.” Another teacher writes, “I have read many books in my ten years as an educator about trying to reach these students, but NOTHING I have ever read was as well-written and simple to follow as this book. It should be required reading for every intermediate teacher.”

When she is not learning and teaching about reading and thinking, Kelly is actively involved in service to the broader reading community. Kelly serves the Virginia State Reading Association as President of Virginia College Reading Educators and as University Liaison to the Newport News Reading Council. She is a member of the editorial review boards of the Journal of Literacy Research and the Literacy Research Association Yearbook. In her home state, she served on the Higher Education Review Panel for the latest revision of the Virginia Standards of Learning in K-12 English Language Arts and Reading. Most recently Kelly consulted with the Virginia General Assembly's Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, which studied statewide reading performance in third grade. Their final report cited Word Callers as an excellent resource for meeting the needs of high-fluency/low-comprehrension readers. Kelly has served in national roles as Area Co-Chair for Elementary and Early Literacy Processes for the Literacy Research Association and as a member of the International Reading Association Professional Standards and Ethics Committee.  

Kelly is a member of the American Psychological Association Division 15 - Educational Psychology; the American Educational Research Association, Division C – Learning and Instruction; the Cognitive Development Society; the International Mind, Brain, and Education Society; the International Reading Association; the Literacy Research Association; the Society for Research in Child Development; and she is a voting member of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading.  

In her local community, Kelly has worked with colleagues in the public schools to establish Literacy Partners, a tutoring program for struggling elementary readers (Cartwright, Savage, Morgan, & Nichols, 2009). She is currently working with university and K-12 colleagues to develop a Literacy Collaborative at a local elementary school: a partnership dedicated to sustained excellence in literacy learning and instruction.

Kelly lives in Yorktown, Virginia, with three rescue dogs and enjoys reading, writing, and walking with her canine companions. For more information on, visit

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