Nancy Newman has given workshops on enhancing children’s language development and literacy to diverse groups of parents and educators at nursery and grade schools, libraries, community centers, corporate luncheons, and conferences in the New York tri-state area for more than twenty years.
Newman's approach grew out of her firsthand experience as a remedial English teacher in Bronx junior and senior public high schools and at a community college. After witnessing her students' widespread aversion to reading, she observed that students' negative attitudes often stemmed from early reading problems that had not been corrected in grade school. Their inability to read well had quashed their enjoyment of books, caused them to associate reading with frustration, humiliation, and failure, impeded their academic success, and narrowed their intellectual and social-emotional growth.
Determined to find a way to support students, she helped to establish an alternate program for students-at-risk on the campus of Staten Island Community College, and developed a successful classroom approach that introduced students to the pleasure and power of using words, re-ignited their appetite for reading, bolstered their self-confidence, and motivated them to improve weak communication skills.
When she became a mother, Newman adapted her classroom approach for home use to enhance her children's ability to use and enjoy words and to share her love of reading with them. Because she knew that learning to read is a lengthy process of language acquisition that begins in infancy, she looked for easy, playful ways to share words with her children in the course of everyday routines. Although dyslexia runs in her family and two sons found learning to read a struggle, all three children became such skilled, avid readers by the end of elementary school that administrators invited Newman to share her pleasure-based method with others in the community.
In 1995, she began to offer workshops on the simple steps even the busiest adults can take to strengthen children’s language skills and reinforce their enjoyment of books and learning. When neuroscientists published new research on the brain and the reading process, Newman incorporated these findings into her work to update parents about their critical role in reading before and during children's school years.
Known for her ability to convey complex underlying ideas to diverse audiences, wise insights, practical advice, and engaging hands-on demonstrations, Newman's upbeat presentations have inspired and empowered thousands of parents, teachers, learning specialists, librarians, and school administrators in a wide variety of settings.
Newman’s latest book is Raising Passionate Readers (Tribeca View Press, 2014). Her well-received first novel, Disturbing the Peace, was published by HarperCollins in 2002. She lives with her family in New York City.