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Read Across America Week: Six Must Reads from the CEOs of EL Education & Open Up Resources

Open Up Resources

Open Up Resources

March 6, 2024

Read Across America Week: Six Must Reads from the CEOs of EL Education & Open Up Resources

As K-12 curriculum leaders, Scott Hartl (EL Education) and Jason Isaacs (Open Up Resources) have a unique vantage point on Read Across America Week 2024. This annual celebration of reading and literacy is a call to action for what both organizations believe is the foundation of being a global citizen and active participant in democracy—the ability to read.  

This year, the enthusiasm and creativity with which schools and communities have embraced the power of reading is palpable. From virtual author visits to themed dress-up days, the commitment to fostering a love of reading is seen in classrooms and across social media.

Here, Scott and Jason share three of their favorite books to inspire conversation and deepen a love of reading.

What is your favorite book all 6th graders should read? Why?

Scott: Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

I love this book and highly recommend it for all sixth graders. It is a captivating and well-crafted true narrative that sheds light on the under-told story of Black women mathematicians. Black women made significant contributions to some of the greatest achievements in space exploration in our nation’s history. Hidden Figures has become one of the most popular books in EL Education’s ELA curriculum.

Jason: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

This inspiring true story showcases the power of determination and innovation and introduces young readers to life in a different part of the world. It highlights the determination of a young boy who overcomes adversity to better his life and the lives of others in his village and can spark discussions about renewable energy, problem-solving, and the importance of education.

What is your favorite book? Why do you love it?

Scott: Hidden Potential by Adam Grant 

In this easy-to-read and compelling book, Grant makes the case that we all have more in us than we know and that every individual possesses untapped potential beyond their awareness. For EL Education, it is a core belief, and we view great schools and classrooms as environments that can unleash the potential we see in all young people.

Jason: The Color of Water by James McBride

This book is a poignant and thought-provoking read that explores identity, family, and race. It highlights the bond of family members across racial lines and provides rich material for discussions about diversity while fostering empathy through a deeper understanding of important social issues.

What book should all teachers read? Why?

Scott: Leaders of their Own Learning by Ron Berger, Leah Ruygen, and Libby Woodfin

This book is EL Education’s most widely read text. At EL Education, we’re passionate about empowering students. The belief that students can and should be leaders of their own learning has become foundational to our educational vision and approach.

Jason: Why Don’t Students Like School? by Daniel T. Willingham

A must-read for teachers, this book offers valuable insights from the lens of a cognitive scientist that can help educators understand how students learn and how to engage them more effectively. By applying the principles outlined in this book, teachers can explore the science of teaching as they implement the science of reading in their classrooms.

During Read Across America Week, we celebrate the magic of literacy. Yet, the stark reality is that many children, particularly those from low-income families, lack basic proficiency. At Open Up Resources and EL Education, we believe high-quality, culturally relevant curricula are crucial to unlocking every child’s potential. These tools empower educators to create inclusive, equitable classrooms where words spark curiosity, critical thinking, and a lifelong love of learning. This week, let’s recommit to ensuring all children become confident readers, on time. We can achieve this goal by advocating for engaging curricula and supporting the most effective literacy champions – our teachers.

Scott Hartl – President & CEO, EL Education

A lifelong educator and EL Education’s first coach, Scott Hartl became President & CEO in 2009. As President & CEO, he has driven several significant initiatives for the organization, including creating its groundbreaking K–8 Language Arts Curriculum and initiating a robust credentialing process for EL Education’s national network of district and charter public schools that set their sights on an expanded view of student success. Scott serves on the National Advisory Committee of the Science of Learning and Development Alliance and supports the Equitable Learning & Development Project. He has been named a Pahara-Aspen Institute Education Fellow, Ashoka Fellow, and Governor’s Appointee to the Massachusetts Creativity Commission. Scott was a high school teacher and the founding principal of a high-performing middle school in Boston. As an Outward Bound leadership instructor for 14 years, he led major expeditions in the mountains of Nepal, Alaska, and other areas of the United States.

Jason Isaacs – CEO, Open Up Resources

Jason has an extraordinary breadth of K–12 education experience. He started his K -12 career in 2006 at PS 328 in Brooklyn, NY, as their after-school director. Recognized for his ability to increase student attendance and increase parent engagement, he quickly worked his way through the ranks to become Executive Director at The Princeton Review. His experience includes managing the Sales and Operational Teams for Noodle Markets & 3P Learning across the US, Latin American, and Canadian markets. Most recently, Jason served as Open Up Resources’ Chief Revenue Officer, championing an increase in growth by 47% in districts and schools supported by Open Up Resources since 2019. He is most passionate about helping underprivileged students succeed in life. 


EL Education is a national nonprofit partnering with K-12 educators to transform public schools and districts into hubs of opportunity for all students to achieve excellent, equitable outcomes. EL Education is guided by a vision of education equity embracing the genius in every child and by a reimagined definition of student achievement. EL Education offers research-proven resources and practices, including the acclaimed EL Education K-8 Language Arts curriculum, Core Practices, and aligned professional learning. EL Education was founded in 1991 and currently serves 440,000 students in diverse communities across the country. Learn more at


Open Up Resources is a non-profit publisher in pursuit of delivering equitable learning experiences for all students. Open Up Resources provides educators best in class, research-based PreK-12 curricula and professional learning so they may support every student’s academic success and create in-class experiences that celebrate, honor, and empower all students with a keen focus on historically excluded student populations. To learn more about Open Up Resources’ mission and work, click here.