Maria Walther is a teacher, author, literacy consultant, and children’s literature enthusiast. She taught first grade for 34 years. Maria partners with teachers in their classrooms and inspires colleagues through engaging professional learning experiences. What educators appreciate most about Maria is her enthusiasm for teaching and her realistic approach toward classroom instruction. Maria earned a doctorate at Northern Illinois University and was named The Outstanding Literacy Alumni by the Department of Literacy Education for professionalism, service, and career success. Maria has been a longtime advocate of reading aloud. She was honored as Illinois Reading Educator of the Year and earned the ICARE for Reading Award for fostering the love of reading in children. 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. Learn more about her books at mariawalther.com and follow her on Twitter @mariapwalther.