Skip to Main Content

Blog Article

What's Happening Project Spotlight: Shervaughnna Anderson-Byrd of the California Reading and Literature Project


My name is Shervaughnna Anderson-Byrd. I come from a home of readers; our den/family room had an entire walled bookshelf full of books, magazines, and of course, a leather-bound set of the  Encyclopedia Britannica. However, like many children, as I progressed in school, the love of reading was slowly taken away from me by the books I was forced to read and the dull conversations around the texts. The cognitive dissidence was real between the excitement of reading at home, the lackluster literature, and the lack of authentic engagement displayed in my content classrooms. I always felt as though in school, only obvious doors of knowledge were being opened, and the hidden passages of deeper meaning were being kept secret. Those were the passages I wanted to explore; those provided the reason for schooling, those were the key to changing society and the world, and I wanted to discover them. As a new teacher, I was lost on how to find those passages and how even to help students learn to read. At the suggestion of my older sister, who was part of the California Mathematics Project, I applied to and was accepted to the CRLP Leadership Invitational and finally learned how to open not only doors but also find the passages I had been looking for as a learner and to be able to guide my students to and through the passages as well. 

Current Context of Reading and Literature in California

 Unfortunately, people have argued over how to teach reading in our country for hundreds of years. The reading wars are not new and are not even a war; they are more of a stance. “I learned to read this way, so it is right” versus “I learned to read that way, so it is right.” I believe people will argue these sides for years to come. What people can agree on, however, when it comes to reading, is that it is powerful, and that makes it a force. My discipline was illegal for some because reading can make a difference, can change the world, reading is prodigious. Reading makes you think, it makes you question, and it makes you take action. At the moment, that has some people worried, so we see book banning or restrictive curriculums. On a brighter note, however, we are seeing more diverse texts in the classrooms. I am extremely proud of the inclusion efforts in California to make everyone visible through literature and our instructional practices that are culturally responsive and sustaining.

On  the California Reading and Literature Project’s (CRLP) impact on education in California:

 CRLP has been at the forefront of reading professional development for almost 40 years. We have stood on the belief that the best teachers of teachers are teachers and continue to maintain and nurture that philosophy. We have supported the development of several educators through their journey of classroom instructional practices and leadership roles. People such as myself and others who are reading specialists, instructional leaders, administrators, county office consultants, superintendents, and other positions are examples of CRLP teacher leaders using their knowledge of learning and reading best to support California's children and classroom teachers.

On Exciting Recent Projects:

We recently held our annual (Social Emotional Learning through Literature) SEL into Literature Conference in San Diego, where we focused on using literature to teach social-emotional learning in our schools for students and the well-being of the community and teachers. Educators from the entire state attended and presented at this annual conference. This year, we had the phenomenal Carol Jago as our keynote speaker, sharing the SEL benefits of using diverse texts. We look forward to learning and seeing even more educators next year. 

photograph of two rows of women standing in front of signsDecorative Signs of CRLP and people standing


On Exciting Upcoming Projects:

In May of 2024, we will host our first (De)Normalizing Literature Conference, which focuses on recognizing colonialism in our literature and literacy practices in K-12 classrooms. (De)Normalizing Literature supports teachers in understanding their own biases and how those biases show up in the texts we put in front of our students and the instructional practices we use. As educators, we can help students make sense of what they read, challenge ideas, and recognize problematic storytelling simply by changing the texts. This conference will highlight the need to show and teach our students critical tools they can use to read the world around them.  We also are a partner in the Literacy Coaches and Reading Specialists Educator Training (LCRSET) grant. In the Fall of 2024, we will be providing professional development in our Signature Programs for educators to become literacy coaches and reading and literacy specialists. Our Signature Programs are a comprehensive tool that connects and supports the California ELA/ELD framework. The CRLP provides transformative professional learning in Reading/Literacy. Our professional learning centers educators as learners and leaders to ensure that every CA student receives high-quality, rigorous, comprehensive literacy instruction that is responsive to their identities, assets, and needs.

Stay in Touch at:

Back to blog posts