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Donald H. Graves

Donald H. Graves was a pioneer in literacy education who ultimately revolutionized the way that writing is taught in the United States and around the world.  The research study he began in the 1970s at the Atkins Academy, a rural New Hampshire elementary school, would transform writing instruction and launch a new kind of resource: professional books for educators.  His bestselling book, Writing: Teachers and Children at Work, challenged teachers to let children’s needs and interests, not mandates, guide instruction.  For the first time, young children became engaged as writers—not just students learning to write. As they were guided to make the decisions writers make in an authentic writing process, they raised our beliefs about what young writers were capable of.

Don Graves was a teacher, principal, Education Director, and Co-Director of an urban teacher preparation program. He was Professor Emeritus at the University of New Hampshire .

Heinemann proudly published Don’s many other titles including A Fresh Look at Writing; A Sea of Faces; The Energy to Teach; Teaching Day By Day; and Inside Writing (coauthored with Penny Kittle).  Children Want to Write: Don Graves and the Revolution in Children’s Writing, edited by Thomas Newkirk and Penny Kittle, pairs Don’s most important writings with recovered video from his classrooms, creating a vivid and surprising portrait of the man still referred to as “the Don.”

NCTE’s Donald H. Graves Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Writing is given annually to deserving educators who have shown exemplary understanding and insight on student improvement in writing.


For additional information about Don Graves, see: