Maria Walther is a first-grade teacher in Aurora, IL. She’s been spending her days with children since 1986. Along with teaching young learners, Maria inspires other professionals by sharing her knowledge at local, state, and national conferences. The ideas she shares reflect her continued commitment to teaching, researching, writing, and collaborating with her colleagues. Maria earned a doctorate at Northern Illinois University in 1998 was recently named The Outstanding Literacy Alumni by the Department of Literacy Education for professionalism, service, and career success. Maria has been a longtime advocate for reading aloud. She was honored as Illinois Reading Educator of the Year and earned the ICARE for Reading Award for fostering the love of reading in children. Before partnering with the Corwin team, she co-authored five professional books and the Next Step Guided Reading Assessment with Scholastic. Learn more about her books at mariawalther.com and follow her on Twitter @mariapwalther.