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Emily Hanford

How Teaching Kids to Read Went So Wrong


Dan "Daddy Squeeze" Newton

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Sahan Journal

About Emily Hanford

For more than a generation, schools across the U.S. embraced a specific methodology of teaching kids to read. The problem? Cognitive scientists had proven decades before it didn’t actually work. In her award-winning podcast Sold a Story, Emily Hanford investigated the influential authors who promoted this idea and the company that sold it to schools across the country. She’ll share what it has meant for millions of kids and what it says about education in the United States.

Emily Hanford is a senior correspondent and producer for APM Reports, the documentary and investigative reporting group at American Public Media. Her work has appeared on NPR and in The New York Times and other publications. For the past several years, she has been reporting on reading instruction. Her 2018 podcast episode “Hard Words: Why aren’t kids being taught to read?” won the inaugural public service award from EWA. Her most recent project, the podcast Sold a Story: How Teaching Kids to Read Went So Wrong, won a 2023 IRE Award and was nominated for a Peabody. Emily is based in the Washington, D.C. area. She is a graduate of Amherst College.

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