Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 23, 2022

Book Giveaway: Partner Poems & Word Ladders for Building Foundational Literacy Skills by David Harrison

David L Harrison, Mary Jo Fresch, and Tim Rasinski have two new educational books PARTNER POEMS & WORD LADDERS Grades K-2 and Grades 1-3 coming out from Scholastic Teaching Resources.

This is a non-fiction book teachers will love and home schooling parents will put to good use. They are giving away a copy to one winner. This would also be a great donation to your local school or library.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Mary Jo, David and Tim.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


Young learners can’t help but feel motivated when they’re reading a funny short poem or story with a partner. Follow this up with skill-building word ladders that focus on phonics and vocabulary, plus an engaging language arts mini-lesson on reading, writing, or word study, and you’ve got a comprehensive, strategic approach to teaching early literacy skills. This book provides essential practice in reading and writing the top phonograms that are most appropriate for young students.

Motivate young learners to develop fluency with funny short poems they can read with a partner. Follow this up with skill-building word ladders that focus on phonics and vocabulary, plus an engaging language arts mini-lesson on reading, writing, or word study, and you’ve got a comprehensive, strategic approach to teaching early literacy skills. This book provides practice in reading and writing phonograms essential for learners who are ready to expand their vocabulary and experiences with print.


David’s book journey – how Partner Poems and Word Ladders for Building Foundational Literacy Skills came to be.

This project began, like so many previous books have, by talking with friends. Tim Rasinski, Gay Fawcett, and I wrote a book for Scholastic Teaching Resources in 2009 that we called Partner Poems for Building Fluency. I wrote forty poems for two voices and the companion activities focused on key comprehension skills. Tim and I agreed that one day we should do another book demonstrating the power of partner poems in supporting the early literacy processes. In 2013, Mary Jo Fresch and I wrote a 5-set series for Shell Education called Learning through Poetry. For those books, I wrote ninety-eight poems, each one focusing on a different phonic element. We recorded them all and included CDs of them tucked inside the covers.

More books came, with Tim and with Mary Jo – with those and other publishers – always stressing ways in which poetry, with its strong artistic elements, is so effective in developing early literacy strategies. It felt inevitable that the three of us would one day join hands to make these two new books. All it took was one more talk with friends.


David Harrison has published ninety-two titles that have earned dozens of honors, including the Christopher Award for The Book of Giant Stories.  His work has been translated into twelve languages, anthologized more than one hundred eighty-five times, and appeared in over eighty magazines and professional journals. In Springfield, MO, David Harrison Elementary School is named for him. His poem, “My Book,” is sandblasted into The Children’s Garden sidewalk at the Burton Barr Library in Phoenix, Arizona and painted on a bookmobile in Pueblo, Colorado. David’s poetry inspired Sandy Asher’s popular, award winning school plays, Somebody Catch My Homeworkand Jesse and Grace and has been set to music performed for numerous live audiences. In 2007, the Missouri Librarian Association presented David with its Literacy Award for the body of his work.

David had three new new published books come out in 2020. A picture book titled, RUM PUM PUM written with Jane Yolen. GUIDED PRACTICE FOR READING GROWTH written with Laura Robb and this book EMPOWERING STUDENTS’ KNOWLEDGE of VOCABULARY with Mary Jo Fresch.  He holds two degrees in science and two honorary doctorates of letters (MSU and Drury University). He is poet laureate for Drury University and honorary doctor of letters degrees from Missouri State University and Drury University. He regularly speaks at conferences and visits schools. David lives with his wife, Sandy, a business owner and retired guidance counselor. He is working on many new books.




Mary Jo: David, Tim and I have been long time friends. We are always circling around the same important ideas of making young readers confident and independent. We have each written books, articles and blog postings (even done a few podcast interviews), but this is the first time the three of us worked together. David and I have done seven books together…five that focused on phonemic awareness, one on how to teach students research skills, and one on empowering student vocabulary development. David and Tim had previously written two voice poem books and wanted to update and expand what they offer. That’s where I came in…they asked if I would like to be involved in a new version and I said YES! Our plan to divide and conquer when we co-author is easy…David writes the fun, student-friendly poem; Tim works out two word ladders that relate to the poem; and I create a literacy related lesson (reading, writing, word study, phonics….all sorts of fun ways to explore language and further engage students in working with the poem).

When we brought the idea to Scholastic, our editor, Maria Chang, quickly suggested making the book into two. We wanted to combine the high frequency phonograms suggested by Edward Fry with those found by Wiley and Durrell. The two lists had significant cross-over, providing powerful ways for students to read and write hundreds of words. In the end, we had 52 phonograms, so decided to divide them into two books. We agreed (we really did!) on the ones most appropriate for grade K-2 students to be introduced to, and the more challenging ones for grades 1-3. David’s 52 poems, Tim’s 104 word ladders, and my 52 comprehensive literacy lessons give teachers a hands-on, ready approach for teaching phonics, word analysis, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, spelling, and more!

We know teachers are going to love these fun poems, word ladders that engage critical thinking, and lessons that touch on all areas of literacy learning. We love the books…we know they will, too!


Dr. Mary Jo Fresch is an Academy Professor and Professor Emerita in the School of Teaching and Learning, College of Education and Human Ecology at The Ohio State University. She has been an educator for over 40 years. She began her teaching career as a 3rd grade teacher, then worked with adults with challenging literacy needs at the University of Akron, and finally, spent the last 30 years teaching pre-service and in-service teachers’ literacy courses at the University of Nebraska (Lincoln), The Royal Melbourne Institute and Deakin University (both in Melbourne, Australia) and The Ohio State University. She speaks nationally and internationally about literacy related topics.

Her research focuses on the developmental aspect of literacy learning. She has over 60 peer reviewed articles in professional journals such as Language Arts, Journal of Literacy Research, The Reading Teacher, Reading and Writing Quarterly and Reading Psychology. Her 20 professional books include Strategies for Effective Balanced Literacy (Shell Education); The Power of Picture Books: Using Content Area Literature in Middle School (NCTE); Engaging Minds in English Language Arts Classrooms: The Surprising Power of Joy (ASCD); and Editor of An Essential History of Current Reading Practices (Amazon). She has previously co-authored Learning Through Poetry (Shell Education), a five book phonemic and phonological awareness series, 7 Keys To Research For Writing Success (Scholastic), and Empowering Students’ Knowledge of Vocabulary: Learning How Language Works in Grades 3-5 with David L. Harrison. Mary Jo continues to provide professional learning workshops for teachers across the United States.

Twitter: @fresch_ideas



TIM’s Journey – Partner Poems and Word Ladders K-2, and 1-3

My own journey to Partner Poems and Word Ladders for Building Foundational Reading Skills began as a reading intervention teacher many years ago – more than I would like to admit. I worked with students ranging from first through sixth grade. All came to me because of difficulties in reading comprehension. Their scores on standardized tests of reading achievement were well below where they should be for their assigned grade levels. Taking a closer look at these students it was soon apparent that the difficulties really centered on foundational reading skills – they had difficulty decoding words, understanding words, reading texts with fluency – both with ease and expression. If students have difficulty with the words and with reading the words fluently, they are going to have trouble making sense of the texts they read. Working on these skills I found students making immediate progress in reading comprehension – and in some cases the improvements bordered on miraculous.

Ever since I have spent my career working to help students who struggle in reading- in schools, working with teachers, running our university reading clinic, and conducting and publishing scientific research. However, I really hit the jackpot when I teamed up with two great scholars and friends – David Harrison and Mary Jo Fresch to develop a program for teaching foundational reading skills in scientific, artful, and joyful ways. What could be better for students than to be in a reading program where you get to read and perform poetry with your classmates and teacher and then follow-up with word games and activities! These two books of poetry and word study activities, if used regularly and intentionally, can be a real game changer for so many students. I am so proud to be part of the team that developed these books.


Timothy Rasinski is a professor of literacy education at Kent State University and director of its award winning reading clinic. He also holds the Rebecca Tolle and Burton W. Gorman Endowed Chair in Educational Leadership. Tim has written over 250 articles and has authored, co-authored or edited over 50 books or curriculum programs on reading education. He is author of the best selling books on reading fluency The Fluent Reader and The Megabook of Fluency. Tim’s scholarly interests include reading fluency and word study, reading in the elementary and middle grades, and readers who struggle. His research on reading has been cited by the National Reading Panel and has been published in journals such as Reading Research Quarterly, The Reading Teacher, Reading Psychology, and the Journal of Educational Research. Tim is the first author of the fluency chapter for the Handbook of Reading Research, Volume IV.

Tim served a three year term on the Board of Directors of the International Reading Association and was co-editor of The Reading Teacher, the world’s most widely read journal of literacy education. He has also served as co-editor of the Journal of Literacy Research. Rasinski is past-president of the College Reading Association and he has won the A. B. Herr and Laureate Awards from the College Reading Association for his scholarly contributions to literacy education. In 2010 Tim was elected to the International Reading Hall of Fame and he is also the 2020 recipient of the William S. Gray Citation of Merit from the International Literacy Association. In a 2021 study done at Stanford University Tim was identified as being among the top 2% of scientists in the world.

Prior to coming to Kent State Tim taught literacy education at the University of Georgia. He taught for several years as an elementary and middle school classroom and reading intervention teacher in Omaha, Nebraska. Tim is a veteran of the United States armed forces.

David, Mary Jo, and Tim, thank you for sharing your books and journey with us. The three of you make a great team. I am sure this book will help children increase their knowledge of words/vocabulary, through poems and understand more of what they read and become more imaginative in their writing. This book definitely, will help them be more successful in life. Good Luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I teach at the Walt Whitman Birthplace and this would be a wonderful companion to lessons on the Great Gray Poet!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Linda. Tell the kids at school we hope they like our book.


  2. Kids LOVE partner poems! (And so do I!)

    Liked by 2 people

    • And I love to write them!


  3. This sounds great for homeschooling! Congrats to the authors!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: