Maria Walther, who earned a doctorate in elementary education from Northern Illinois University, taught first grade for 34 years. Maria partners with teachers in their classrooms and inspires colleagues through engaging professional learning experiences. The ideas she shares reflect her continued commitment to teaching, researching, writing, and collaborating. What teachers appreciate most about Maria is her enthusiasm for teaching and her realistic approach toward classroom instruction. Maria was honored as Illinois Reading Educator of the Year, earned the ICARE for Reading Award for fostering the love of reading in children, and was named The Outstanding Literacy Alumni by the Department of Literacy Education at Northern Illinois University. The award that Maria cherishes the most is The Most Influential Educator given to her by one of her former first-grade students who is now a colleague. Maria is a prolific professional writer. She strives to create practical resources for busy teachers. Her best-selling book, The Ramped-Up Read Aloud, promotes joyful read aloud experiences. Her latest book, The Literacy Workshop: Where Reading and Writing Converge, was written with Karen Biggs-Tucker. Maria is also the co-author of Scholastic’s Next Step Guided Reading Assessment with Jan Richardson.