Literacy and background knowledge: Essential skills for life (with Dr. Pamela Snow)

The most effective reading instructional practices aren’t always the ones that gain traction.

It’s the ones with the most successful marketing campaigns. 

The best marketer wins; but this certainly isn’t a win for the students who go without effective instruction or the school staff struggling to support them. 

That’s why I was so excited to talk with Dr. Pamela Snow about the growing body of research relating to literacy and its impact on life outcomes; as well as how we can improve the discourse surrounding effective instruction and improve instructional practices.

Pamela Snow is a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the School of Education at the Bendigo campus of La Trobe University, Australia. She is also Co-Director of the Science of Language and Reading (SOLAR) Lab. Pamela is a registered psychologist, having qualified originally in speech-language pathology and has taught a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate education and health professionals. Her research has been funded by nationally competitive schemes such as the ARC Discovery Program, ARC Linkage Program, and the Criminology Research Council, and concerns the role of language and literacy skills as academic and mental health protective factors in childhood and adolescence. She has conducted research on the profiles and needs of high-risk groups such as youth offenders, children and adolescents in the state care system and flexible education systems, as well as research advancing evidence in the language-to-literacy transition in the early years of school. 

In 2020, Pamela established, with her colleague, Professor Tanya Serry, The Science of Language and Reading (SOLAR) Lab in the School of Education at La Trobe University. Pamela’s research has been published in a wide range of international journals and she was a member of the 2017 National Year 1 Literacy and Numeracy Panel, convened by the Hon. Simon Birmingham, Federal Education Minister. She is a Life Member of Speech Pathology Australia and a past Victorian State Chair of the Australian Psychological Society. 

Pamela has over 170 publications, comprising refereed papers, books and book chapters, monographs and research reports. In addition to these academic outputs, Pamela writes a popular blog for teachers, parents, and clinicians: The Snow Report - and is a founding Associate Editor of The Reading League Journal. 

In this interview, we discuss:

✅The impact of social media on the dissemination of research in education.

✅Can the discussion of reading research become an ongoing feedback loop between people teaching reading and those conducting research?

✅Comprehension and application are the end goals when it comes to the goal of education. But how do we define what “comprehension” is and how we work on it? 

✅Play-based learning vs early reading instruction: Why they aren’t in opposition.

✅Using explicit instruction to build skills needed for problem-solving and successful project-based learning.

✅Whose job is it to work on reading? How much is the responsibility of the schools, and what is the parent’s job?

You can connect with Dr. Snow on X (formerly Twitter) @pamelasnow2 ( or on her blog at:

We mentioned the following articles on her blog in this episode including:
Balanced Literacy Bingo (Link here:

School leaders and reading instruction: Time to demand LESS rather than more autonomy (Link here:

You can also learn more about her work on her La Trobe University page at:

You can learn more about the Science of Language and Reading (SOLAR) lab at:

The number of experts and resources were mentioned in this episode, including:

Dr. Anita Archer:

Dr. David C. Geary:

Dr. Louisa Moats:

Dr. Steven Dykstra:

Natalie Wexler:

Nancy Hennessey’s “The Reading Comprehension Blueprint”:

In this episode, I mention Language Therapy Advance Foundations, my program that helps SLPs create a system for language therapy. You can learn more about Language Therapy Advance Foundations here:

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Literacy and background knowledge: Essential skills for life (with Dr. Pamela Snow)