Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Tuesday 03 August |
Saint of the Day: St. Martin
home iconNews
line break icon

American literacy expert appointed to Vatican academy


Meena Kadri-(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

John Burger - published on 10/12/20 - updated on 10/12/20

Maryanne Wolf believes increasing readership can lead to reduction in global poverty.

With 800 million people in the world who are illiterate, poverty could be reduced by 12% if 170 million more people learned how to read.

That is a United Nations estimate that Maryanne Wolf is fond of citing. Wolf, who cofounded a global initiative to reduce illiteracy, was appointed to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences Monday.

The American literacy expert, who teaches at UCLA, is the second woman Pope Francis named to the Vatican academy in as many weeks. On September 29, the pope appointed Fabiola Gianotti, who played a role in the discovery of the “God Particle,” to the body of experts.

Wolf is the director of the Center for Dyslexia, Diverse Learners, and Social Justice at UCLA. She is the author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain and Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World.

Born in 1947 in South Bend, Indiana, she graduated from St. Mary’s College/Notre Dame and received her doctorate from Harvard’s Human Development and Psychology department. There, she began her work in cognitive neuroscience and psycholinguistics on the reading brain, language, and dyslexia.

She designed  the RAVE-O reading intervention for children with dyslexia, and with Martha Denckla, co-authored the RAN/RAS naming speed tests, a major predictor of dyslexia across all languages. She also co-founded Curious Learning, a global literacy initiative with deployments in Africa, India, Australia, and rural United States and the Einstein Award from The Dyslexia Foundation for her work in dyslexia.

Wolf is currently working with members of the Dyslexia Center in the UCSF School of Medicine and the faculty at Chapman University on issues related to dyslexia.

Ampersand, the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies online magazine, said that the Vatican appointment recognized Wolf’s work “in applying science to education, in tandem with Pope Francis’ expressed goal of utilizing science to improve the lives of the world’s impoverished populations, particularly children.”

Even before being named at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Wolf had addressed the body on literacy-related issues.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Saint Mary of the Angels
Bret Thoman, OFS
All your sins will be forgiven if you go to a Franciscan church o...
Ignacio María Doñoro
Francisco Veneto
The military chaplain who pretended to be a criminal to rescue a ...
Violeta Tejera
Carlo Acutis’ first stained glass window in jeans and sneak...
Theresa Civantos Barber
The one thing we all should do before this summer ends
Philip Kosloski
Most priests can’t absolve these sins
Ary Waldir Ramos Diaz
1st Feast of Our Lady of Silence is August 1
Zelda Caldwell
World-record winning gymnast Simone Biles leans on her Catholic f...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.