Where Tech Meets Literacy

With young children gaining access to a dizzying array of games, videos, and other digital media, will they ever learn to read? The answer is yes—if they are surrounded by adults who know how to help and introduced to media designed to promote literacy instead of undermining it.

This book aims for a future that is human-centered first and tech-assisted second. We take readers through homes, classrooms, e-book publishing, futuristic laboratories, and the app marketplace to show how educators and parents can help children grow into strong, passionate readers using media of all kinds—print, digital, and everything in between. We call for new policies to pave a path to Readialand, a place where reading and media are joined in service of each other and new literacy opportunities are accessible to all families. We are motivated by the urgent need for low-income families to have access to the same 21st-century literacy opportunities already at the fingertips of today’s affluent families. Written for educators, parents, and anyone interested in helping to shape the next generation for the better.

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Research for Tap, Click, Read was initiated in 2012 with support from the Campaign for Grade- Level Reading, an ambitious national effort to catalyze and coordinate early literacy initiatives and philanthropic investments in more than 150 cities and towns around the United States.  The Pritzker Children’s Initiative has generously supported the research, writing and dissemination of the book. Our publisher is Jossey-Bass, an imprint of Wiley.

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In the coming months, we will publish a series of tools that educators, parents, advocates and investors can use to help shape and modernize literacy environments for young learners.  Based on the research behind Tap, Click, Read,  these materials will help teachers, librarians, and community leaders take action and support early literacy in their schools and communities.

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Learn More

In Tap, Click, Read  you will:

  • Discover what to watch out for in e-books and app stores
  • View videos of new approaches in early education and elementary schools
  • Find curators and app reviewers who focus on educational materials
  • Come away with a deeper understanding of the science of early literacy

An easy-to-read book based on the latest science on how children learn. See the research behind the book and view a list of resources, such as app reviewers who focus on kids and education.

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Meet the Team

  • Lisa Guernsey

    Director, Learning Technologies Project, New America

    Lisa Guernsey

    Director, Learning Technologies Project, New America

    Lisa Guernsey is director of the Early Education Initiative and the Learning Technologies Project in the Education Policy Program at New America. She leads teams of writers and analysts to tell stories, examine policies and generate ideas for new approaches to help disadvantaged students succeed. Prior to her work at New America, Lisa worked as a staff writer at The New York Times and The Chronicle of Higher Education. She has also contributed to several national publications, including The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Time, Slate, and USA TODAY, and she is the author of Screen Time: How Electronic Media – From Baby Videos to Educational Software – Affects Your Young Child (Basic Books, 2012). She won a 2012 gold Eddie magazine award for a School Library Journal article on e-books and has served on several national advisory committees on early education, including the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on the Science of Children Birth To Age 8. Lisa holds a master’s in English/American studies and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Virginia. Lisa lives in Alexandria, Virginia with her two daughters.

  • Michael Levine

    Founder and Executive Director, Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop

    Michael Levine

    Founder and Executive Director, Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop

    Michael H. Levine, PhD, is the founding executive director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. The Center conducts research, builds multi-sector alliances, and catalyzes industry and policy reforms needed to advance high quality media experiences for vulnerable children. Levine serves on the senior team at Sesame Workshop where he focuses on educational initiatives and philanthropic partnerships for the global nonprofit. Prior to joining the Center, Levine was Vice President for Asia Society, managing interactive media and educational initiatives to promote knowledge and understanding of other world regions and cultures. Michael previously oversaw Carnegie Corporation of New York’s groundbreaking work in early childhood development and educational media, and was a senior advisor to the New York City Schools Chancellor, where he directed dropout prevention and afterschool programs. Levine serves on several boards including the Forum for Youth Investment, We Are Family Foundation, Classroom, Inc, Journeys in Film, Woot Math and DigiLearn. Michael is a Pahara-Aspen Education Reform Fellow and a frequent adviser to the White House and the U.S. Department of Education. He writes for professional and public affairs journals, including a regular column for Huffington Post and is a frequent keynote speaker at education and technology conferences around the world. Levine and his wife Joni have three children and live in Teaneck, New Jersey.

  • New America

    Writers, researchers, contractors

    New America

    Writers, researchers, contractors

    The research that went into Tap, Click, Read involved the time and smart thinking of several analysts and researchers at New America, as well as capable contract writers. Lindsey Tepe, a policy analyst in the Learning Technologies Project, assisted with reporting and helping us stay organized throughout 2013 and 2014.  Shayna Cook and Olivia Ginn provided research assistance. The communications firm HiredPen, co-founded by Barbara Ray and Sarah Jackson, led the direction of the videos, which were shot and edited by videographer Nat Soti and Zero-One Productions. HiredPen’s writers also worked on several reporting assignments. Maggie Severns, a former policy analyst at New America, assisted with the apps analysis and report that led us into this arena, Pioneering Literacy in the Digital Wild West (2012).

  • Cooney Center

    Researchers, writers, and app experts

    Cooney Center

    Researchers, writers, and app experts

    Several researchers at the Cooney Center made significant contributions to Tap, Click, Read.  Sarah Vaala and Anna Ly designed and executed an in-depth study of the app marketplace, which included the coding and analysis of more than 180 early literacy apps. Catherine Jhee, Lori Takeuchi, Amber Levinson, Michelle Miller, and Adam Tong provided research and editorial support. Cynthia Chiong, a former Cooney fellow, assisted with the apps analysis and report that led us into this arena, Pioneering Literacy in the Digital Wild West (2012).


  • Reading this book, I was gobsmacked! I  am one of many who will be indebted to Lisa and Michael for the herculean efforts they have put into researching this topic. I tell everyone interested in these complex issues that they  must read this book. It is ground-breaking work.

    Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain
  • The wasted potential of millions of our children, including extremely low literacy rates, represents the greatest public health crisis facing our country and our country’s future. Tap, Click, Read, determined to help change this, transforms technology from a distraction into a partner in its wonderfully-written mission to ensure that all our children can reach their potentials.

    Dana Suskind, MD. University of Chicago. Co-Author Thirty Million Words, Building Your Child's Brain.
  • An invaluable resource for any parent, educator or policymaker interested in harnessing the potential and power of media and new technologies to support young children’s learning.

    Diana Mendley Rauner, Ph.D, President, Ounce of Prevention Fund and First Lady, Commonwealth of Illinois
  • Teachers, parents and anyone interested in the potential role of interactive technology for children’s learning will find that this book covers all of the important issues exceptionally well. Tap, Click Read’s descriptions of new creative cutting edge efforts is especially illuminating and exciting.

    Barry Zuckerman, MD, FAAP, Professor of Pediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine
  • For anyone committed to increasing social equity, this book is a provocative and inspiring guide, illuminating how the rapidly changing sea of media and technologies surrounding us both creates and dissolves hurdles for people and communities struggling with access to opportunity. Guernsey and Levine invite–and challenge–readers to embrace a new role as co-creators at its dawn of an innovative learning ecosystem that can transform our ability to create children who succeed as the readers, thinkers and learners of tomorrow.

    Kim Syman, Managing Partner, New Profit
  • Mil gracias—a thousand thank you’s for imagining the class of 2030 in this superb book. The honest, asset-based and practical view of ‘equity in a new age’ breaks new ground, especially for Latino families. Times have changed but some constants are forever—parents will always aspire and work hard so that their children can have a better future. Reading is key! Tap, Read, Click is an excellent resource that demystifies what works, what’s most important, and what’s possible now.

    Sandra Gutierrez, Executive Director, Abriendo Puertas (Open Doors)
  • In Tap, Click, Read, literacy pioneers Lisa Guernsey and Michael Levine invite educators, parents and media makers to join them in “Readialand” – a place where the traditional literacies of reading, writing and speaking meet technology at the intersection of child development, early learning, and digital media. Even as they identify and describe technology-mediated, evidence-based and developmentally informed products and practices, they remind us that what matters most for growing 21st century readers is the convergence of innovative tools and interventions with “human-powered” interactions and relationships between young children, parents and educators.

    Chip Donohue, PhD, director, TEC Center at Erikson Institute
  • Digital education is the wild west.  This book changes everything.  It gives us a clear and conversational road map (including great videos) to inform decisions at home with our own children, in schools and libraries, and at the national level.  Tap, Click, Read should be required reading.

    Kyle Zimmer, CEO, First Book
  • Levine and Guernsey have prepared a fascinating tour of the new realities of literacy in a digital world.  They provide a much-needed reality check on many outdated perceptions about equity, screen time, and the critical role of parents and teachers in creating successful readers.

    Richard Culatta, National Education Technology Expert
  • We’re living through the early stages of a learning revolution with lots of hope and hype—particularly in early learning. The two best sources of wisdom in this space are Sesame Workshop and New America. Tap, Click, Read is the best review of the new literacy landscape available. It’s packed with practical advice and examples and videos for parents and educators. Cut through the hype, make sense of the app explosion: get this book!

    Tom Vander Ark, CEO/Partner, Getting Smart and Former Executive Director of Education at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
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