Using Media Literacy to Support Reading Literacy

Resources and advice on supporting reading literacy from Norfolk Public Schools Media Specialist, Tanisha Ricks.

“No movies and videos during the school day!”  Well, I beg to differ.  In this world, children are amused and entertained by media content of all kinds. According to Common Sense Media, media can be considered all sorts of methods of input.  We are not just talking about the “old school” media like newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV, we are also talking about text messages, memes, viral videos, social media, video games, and advertising, just to name a few.  Why try to ban it or take it away?  Let’s just use it to our advantage.  Continue to read, and you will discover ways I use media literacy to improve reading literacy.

What is Media Literacy?  Common Sense Media says that media literacy is the ability to identify different types of media and understand the messages they’re sending.  With that being said, when we apply it to reading, we can have students, do what they love doing to obtain the skills and knowledge needed to increase reading literacy. 

I love to use videos and movies to show facial expressions and relate those expressions back to the book.  I don’t just play a movie, I teach with the movie.  Short snippets of videos or commercials are often used to teach inferencing skills. I find that once students can see someone’s “visualization,” pertaining to what is being taught, it is easier for them to understand.  Using text messages to convert messages or lines in a movie to students’ text language is a game-changer.  Memes are great to express how a character felt in the story. 

Being able to relate with real visuals can bring understanding to most anyone.  I hope these tips have helped and you will reconsider using media literacy to support reading literacy. 

Here are some useful reading and media literacy resources: 


Sesame Street Letter of the Day Resources

Sesame Street Vocabulary Resources

Great American Read Collection, Elementary School Titles

ELA Resources | K-2

Communication and Media Literacy | 3-5

Reading | 3-5

No Nonsense Grammar Series

Teaching Media Literacy | Elementary Resources

Ruff Ruffman: Humble Media Genius | Media Literacy Resources

Molly of Denali Series


Distance Learning Resources for ELA

Great American Read Collection, Middle School Titles

Great American Read Collection, High School Titles

Communication and Media Literacy | 6-8

Reading Resources | 6-8

ELA Resources | 9-12

Teaching Media Literacy | Secondary Resources

It’s Lit 

Professional Development:

My Journey Home | For Teachers: Media Literacy Workshop

Prediction and Inference: Lesson Description

Tanisha Ricks is an elementary media specialist in Norfolk Public Schools and an eMediaVA Teacher Ambassador.

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