No, kids do not learn to read and write naturally (with Melanie Brethour)

Skeptics of the Science of Reading claim that the current push for evidence-based reading instruction is just another pendulum swing. 

Yet if you look at the research, we haven’t so much been “swinging” as much as we’ve been building, evolving, and expanding on what we know about how we learn to read.

Even though the Science of Reading is “trending” as I write this, there are still many kids without access to quality instruction. 

Part of that has to do with teacher preparation programs and professional development available to teachers. 

Those responsible for teaching reading need to know how effective instruction looks.

They ALSO need to be able to spot ineffective practices that actually encourage students to read poorly. 

That’s why I invited Melanie Brethour to episode 141 of the De Facto Leaders podcast to talk about her personal and professional transformation as a special education teacher and literacy advocate. 

Melanie Brethour, is a full-time resource teacher from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, is an advocate for dyslexia awareness and the Science of Reading. Her deep commitment to this cause was sparked by her son Benjamin's dyslexia diagnosis at the age of 9, which ignited a personal mission to understand dyslexia and support her and her students.

Motivated by her son's journey, Melanie embarked on extensive research and training, achieving Orton Gillingham associate-level certification, CERI structured literacy classroom teacher, and won Nessy Dyslexia Aware teacher of the year in 2023. She gives presentations to colleagues, teachers and parents on dyslexia and the Science of Reading.

Driven to help others facing similar challenges, Melanie established Decoding Dyslexia Quebec, a grassroots movement dedicated to raising awareness and providing support. In addition, she launched Soar With Dyslexia on social media, offering resources and information to teachers and parents navigating the complexities of dyslexia and the science of reading. Melanie also volunteers for Dyslexia Canada, lending her support to parents on this difficult journey and is a board member of Teacher’s For Reading Canada, which offers free Orton-Gillinghan training to Canadian teachers.

In this conversation, we discuss:

✅Ineffective reading strategies that are taught in teacher education programs, and why they encourage kids to be poor readers.

✅Can you assume someone has expertise in reading curriculum just because they have an advanced degree? Why do educated people promote methods that don’t work? 

✅The answer to common objections like, “But why do SOME of my students seem to learn reading “naturally”?

✅How teachers and clinicians can make change from the “bottom-up” when “top-down” changes aren’t happening fast enough. 

You can connect with Melanie on LinkedIn here: and follow her on Instagram @soarwithdyslexia (
You can learn more about Decoding Dyslexia here:  and find out about Decoding Dyslexia-Quebec here: 

In this episode, I talked about Language Therapy Advance Foundations, my program for SLPs and literacy interventionists who want to support the language strand of the reading rope. You can learn more about the program here:

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No, kids do not learn to read and write naturally (with Melanie Brethour)