Lea McGee

Headshot of Lea McGee

Faculty Emeritus, Department of Teaching and Learning

(614) 247-7187


Lea McGee is faculty emeritus and was the Marie Clay Chair of Reading Recovery and Early Literacy. She provided broad-based leadership that related to both the Reading Recovery program and more generally to early literacy. McGee brought scholarly strength in both of these directions. Her background and extensive experience in language education, curriculum and instruction, literacy in preschool settings and Head Start programs brought the intersection of interests and abilities needed in the person in this role.

She has a strong record of research productivity, national leadership, and practical work in schools with both children and teachers. Dr. McGee is an accomplished scholar with a record of scholarship as an early literacy leader. Specifically, she has published five books (one in four editions), 17 book chapters and more than three dozen journal articles, many in the most prestigious journals, such as Reading Research Quarterly and Journal of Literacy Research.

McGee has provided the field with strong leadership as president and member of the board of directors of the National Reading Conference which is the leading national research organization in her field. In addition, she was principal investigator on a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

McGee's understandings about how young children emerge into literacy fit well with the theoretical underpinnings of Reading Recovery instruction and her experience coaching teachers complements the department's professional development outreach efforts. She is a scholar able to bridge her work with young children and preschool teachers in high poverty areas such as Alabama and Mississippi. She applies the general principles of expanding young children's oral language as they are learning to read and write. This work is similar to the intervention program delivered by Reading Recovery teachers. She brought strength and prestige to The Ohio State University team as they continue to steward and extend the responsibility for Marie Clay's development of Reading Recovery in the United States.


  • EdD Virginia Tech University, 1980
  • MS Old Dominion University, 1975
  • BS (summa cum laude), Miami University 1971

Research Summary

I am interested in studying the effects of preschool classroom interventions on preschool and kindergarten literacy achievement; defining teacher implementation of intervention programs in preschool and describing the impact of implementation on child outcomes; the impact of "fingerpoint reading" in kindergarten on the slope of increase in children's text reading levels in first grade; young children's responses to literature; the effects of a systematic approach to drama and retelling on kindergartners' comprehension and vocabulary development.


  • 2006-2007, Professor, Marie M. Clay Chair, The Ohio State University
  • 1997-2006, Professor, University of Alabama
  • 1989-1997, Associate Professor, Professor, Boston College
  • 1980-1989, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Louisiana State University


  • T & L 925.56 Understanding the Reading Process
  • T & L 887A.56 Reading Recovery
  • T & L 925.56 Understanding Reading Difficulties
  • T & L 911 Research in Emergent Literacy


  • University of Alabama, College of Education, Research Impact Award, 2006
  • President of the National Reading Conference (Vice-President 2002, President-Elect, 2003, President, 2004. Past President 2005)
  • National Reading Conference, Albert J. Kingston Award for Distinguished Service, 2000

Selected Grants

  • 2004-2006 U. S. Department of Education: Early Reading First Grant : Project CORE. Principle Investigator. $1,944,373. University of Alabama
  • 2002-2006 U. S. Department of Education, Early Reading First Grant. subcontract to the University of Alabama. ($148,842 to the university; $890,000 total)
  • 1997 Foundation Grant from Mr. Bill Smith, CEO of Royal Cup of Coffee to support Alabama Reading Initiative at the University of Alabama. ($50,000)
  • 1994 Elva Knight Research Grant, International Reading Association. First Graders' Responses to Literature: A Classroom Study ($4954).

Selected Publications

  • McGee, L., & Richgels, D. (2008). Literacy's Beginnings: Supporting Young Readers and Writers (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon
  • McGee, L. (forthcoming 2007). Transforming preschools. New York: Scholastic.
  • McGee, L., & Morrow, L. (2005). Teaching kindergarten literacy. New York: Guilford Publications.
  • McGee, L., & Richgels, D. (2003). Designing Early Literacy Programs: Strategies for At-Risk Preschool and Kindergarten Children. New York: Guilford Publications.

Selected Book Chapters

  • McGee, L. (in press). Early Reading First and its role in defining high-quality professional development. In. A. DeBruin-Parecki (Ed.). Effective early literacy practice: Here's how, here's why. Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishers.
  • McGee, L. (2007). Language and literacy assessment in preschool. In J. Paratore, & R. McCormack (Eds.). Classroom literacy assessment: Making sense of what students know and can do. (pp 65-84). New York: Guilford Press.
  • McGee, L., & Richgels, D. (2006). Can technology support emergent reading and writing?: Directions for the future. In M. McKenna, L. Labbo, R. Kieffer, & D. Reinking (Eds.). International handbook of literacy and technology (Vol. 2) (p.369-377). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • McGee, L. (2003). Shaking the Very Foundations of Emergent Literacy: Book Reading Versus Phonemic Awareness. In J. Isenberg & M. Jalongo (Eds.) Major Trends and Issues in Early Childhood Education (2nd Ed.) (p. 114-125). New York: Teachers College Press.
  • McGee, L. (2003). Book acting: Storytelling and drama in the early childhood Classroom In. D. Barone & L. Morrow (Eds.) Research-Based Practices in Early Literacy (p. 157-172). New York: Guilford Publications.

Selected Refereed Articles

  • McGee, L., & Schickedanz, J. (2007). Repeated interactive read alouds in preschool and kindergarten. The Reading Teacher., 60,. 742-551.
  • McGee, L. (2006). Research on Reading Recovery: What is the impact on early literacy research? Journal of Literacy Teaching and Learning: An International Journal of Early Literacy, 10. p. 1-50. Columbus, OH: The Reading Recovery Council of North America.
  • McGee, L. (2005). The role of wisdom in evidence-based preschool literacy curricula. In Maloch, B., Hoffman, J., Schallert, D., Fairbanks, C. & Worthy, J. (Eds.) 54th Yearbook of the National Reading Conference, pp . 1-21. Oak Creek, WI: National Reading Conference.
  • McGee, L. (2002). Preschool literacy programs. Dimensions of Early Childhood, 30, 22-26.
  • Martinez, M., & McGee, L. (2000). Literature-based reading instruction: Past, present, and future. Reading Research Quarterly, 35, 154-169.
  • McGee, L., & Purcell-Gates, V. (1997). Conversations: So what's going on in research in emergent literacy? Reading Research Quarterly, 32, 310-318.