The International Literacy Association’s 2018 “What’s Hot in Literacy” Report

Looking Ahead During March into Literacy Month

For nearly two decades, the International Literacy Association has developed an annual report tracking trends and issues in education. The report surveys educators from around the world and asks them to identify not only the issues that they feel are “hot” — those that they hear about and that receive the most attention — but also what topics in literacy they feel are of utmost importance. This approach to research results in a fascinating and extremely useful juxtaposition of what educators feel the community is focused on as opposed to what they see as detrimental to promoting literacy for all students.

In honor of March Into Literacy Month, we wanted to take a moment and dive into the findings from this survey, to get a sense of what teachers need and expect in order to support every child in their literacy journey.

The 2018 ILA What’s Hot in Literacy Report surveyed a total of 2,097 respondents from 91 countries and territories. The majority of the respondents work directly in education (66%) and they vary in roles: 27% are classroom teachers, 26% are reading or literacy specialists. Other roles included administrators and literacy coordinators. They have experience serving students from a variety of age groups, with a peak at ages 5–7 (54%) and ages 8–10 (57%).

We highly encourage any literacy expert, educator, or administrator to review the report in its entirety, because it’s well worth the read. You might be most interested in the five topics that respondents ranked the most “hot”, and the five they’ve ranked the most “important” (find them on page six of the report). In the report, the ILA highlights a few findings as particularly notable:

  • Only two items — Early Literacy and Strategies for Differentiating Instruction — made both the “hot” and the “important” top five lists
  • Otherwise, the two lists had little overlap and exposed gaps in literacy conversations
  • Equity in Literacy Education ranks №8 in hot topics, but №2 in important topics
  • Teacher Preparation ranks №12 in hot topics, but №3 in important topics
  • Access to Books and Content falls in slot №11 in hot topics, but №5 in important topics

Respondents also exposed gaps in other conversations — Digital Literacy ranked №1 in hot topics, but №13 in importance. ILA analyzed the topics with the largest gaps between hot and important: Teacher Preparation, Family Engagement, Administrators as Literacy Leaders, Access to Books and Content, Mother Tongue Literacy, and Equity in Literacy Education are all viewed as having fairly high rankings in importance, but relatively low rankings on the hot list, meaning that while educators feel passionately about these topics, they also feel that they haven’t received much attention from other stakeholders or in external conversations.

The full report analyzes topics by theme, and takes a look at how respondents varied by location. It also contains qualitative feedback in the form of quotes from various respondents. We encourage you to review the report and share it with your peers. This March into Literacy Month is a great opportunity to reevaluate your district’s approach, understanding, and priorities as they relate to literacy instruction — and we think this report will serve as an excellent source of inspiration:

For more literacy news, resources, and inspiration, visit:


Whats Hot in Literacy 2018 Report.” International Literacy Association, 1 Jan. 2018,

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