Friday, December 12, 2014

All about MRA: Michigan Reading Association

MRA isn’t just for Educators…

Have you heard of Great Lakes, Great Books? Kaleidoscope? MRJ? News & ViewsGwen Frostic Award? If these sound familiar, then you are probably a Michigan Reading Association Member.

Michigan Reading Association (MRA) is an affiliate of the International Literacy Association, and an organization whose mission is to promote literacy across Michigan. As an educator, I have been familiar with MRA’s publications and conferences for years. Michigan Reading Journal has been a staple in educational institutions since 1967 and News & Views on Reading has kept members current with trends in the field. I love reading the journal to keep informed of research, learn tips for improving my craft, and to read reviews on newly published books. There is a wide spectrum of topics and issues in reading, language arts, and literature, and preschool - adult levels included in publications. MRA also hosts the Kaleidoscope Writing Contest for K-12 students. Nominated students are honored at MRA’s State Conference with a celebration hosted by Michigan authors and illustrators.

But is wasn’t until I entered the world of children’s book writing myself, that I fully understood the benefit of an MRA membership. While I was conducting an author visit, a teacher asked if my publications were on MRA’s Great Lakes, Great Books list. Great Lakes, Great Books is an opportunity for kids in Michigan to vote on their favorite books and many SBCWI members have been nominated.

Later that same year, I was invited to speak at the MRA’s Summer Literature Conference as a guest author. Not only did my book get in the hands of more teachers, but I also met great authors like Ryan Hipp, who ironically talked me into an SCBWI membership.

Since that summer weekend, I have enjoyed memberships with two powerhouse reading organizations! I not only attend SCBWI conferences and webinars, but I now participate on the MRA Board. I have learned that being a part of both organizations has expanded my circle of book friends and has helped with my goal of supporting literacy in Michigan! 

Click here to see the poster and conference info.
Many other SCBWI members join me in this dual membership. Take Ruth McNally Barshaw and Matt Faulkner, for example, who were invited to create MRA’s 2015 Annual Conference poster. 

They did an incredible job and now their artwork is highlighted in nearly every school and library in our state! 

MRA is humbled by the work of Michigan authors and illustrators. Each year, MRA recognizes one special individual with the Gwen Frostic Award. This honor recognizes the literacy contributions of a Michigan author or illustrator. Past winners include:

 2009 – Shirley Nietzel - author
 2010 - Patricia Polacco – author/ illustrator
2011 - Margaret Willey - author, folklorist, and novelist
2012 - Ryan Hipp – author/illustrator 
2013 - Gary Schmidt - author
2014 - Kelly DiPucchio – author
2015- TBA – Could this be you?

There are countless reasons why I choose to be involved with both organizations. I love to communicate with those in the education field, as well as professional writers and illustrators! Many SCBWI-MI friends will be joining MRA as speakers and guests at future events and conferences. If you are interested in learning more about MRA, please feel free to visit or contact me at

As a Language Arts Consultant for Macomb Intermediate School District, Dr. Lisa Rivard is passionate about literacy in our state and enjoys reading children’s literature. She tries to carve out time for her own writing adventures but is also busy planning MRA’s 59th Annual Conference in March, 2015 and will lead the MRA organization as President in 2016. She loves to spend spare time walking along the St Clair River where she resides and operates a Little Free Library in her front yard.


  1. MRA helped me connect with schools around the state. I am forever grateful!

  2. Good article! I do NEED to join, ASAP.

  3. Thank you for this information about a terrific organization under our own noses!

    1. Great article, Lisa! And great reasons that there are benefits to being a member of both!

  4. Fascinating - definitely giving this organization a look!

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