Ruth Wharton-McDonald

Ruth Wharton-McDonald

Phone: (603) 862-2380
Office: Education, Morrill Hall Rm 202AB, Durham, NH 03824
Pronouns: She/her/hers

Ruth Wharton-McDonald is an associate professor in Education at the University of New Hampshire. She completed her M.Ed. in Reading, Language and Learning Disabilities from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the State University of New York at Albany. Dr. Wharton-McDonald's research has investigated early literacy instruction, children's literacy learning, and the role of texts (especially books) in children's understandings of reading and the world. Her interest in children’s literacy stems from her experiences as a classroom teacher, a reading specialist, a school psychologist, and a supervisor of elementary teaching interns. Dr. Wharton-McDonald was recognized by the International Reading Association as a "New Voices in Literacy" designee (2000); she was awarded a Teaching Excellence Award by the College of Liberal Arts in 2003, and the Education Department's Kimball Award in 2018. In addition to her teaching and research, Dr. Wharton-McDonald directs Seacoast Reads, a volunteer literacy support program pairing UNH undergraduates and children in schools, libraries, and after school programs. She helped to establish the university’s Community Literacy Center, and for 15 years, she has led a middle school book group at the local public library.

Courses Taught

  • EDUC 506: Mentoring Readers and Writers
  • EDUC 706/806: Literacy in the Elem Classroom
  • EDUC 734: Critical Children's Lit
  • EDUC 734/834: Critical Children's Lit
  • EDUC 834: Critical Children's Lit
  • EDUC 902: Doctoral Pro-seminar


  • Ph.D., Education, University at Albany
  • Ed.M., Harvard University
  • A.B., Psychology, Brown University

Research Interests

  • Children's Literature
  • Classroom Instruction
  • Early literacy development
  • K-12 literacy
  • Social justice education

Selected Publications

  • Erickson, J. D., Condie, C., & Wharton-McDonald, R. (2020). Harnessing the Power of Young Readers' Perceptions to Support Motivation. READING TEACHER, 73(6), 777-787. doi:10.1002/trtr.1895

  • Erickson, J. D., & Wharton‐McDonald, R. (2019). Fostering Autonomous Motivation and Early Literacy Skills. The Reading Teacher, 72(4), 475-483. doi:10.1002/trtr.1750

  • Wharton-McDonald, R. M. (2018). The Role of Word Recognition in Beginning Reading: Getting the Words off the Page. In C. Cassano, & S. Dougherty (Eds.), Pivotal Research in Early Reading: Foundational Studies and Current Practices (first ed., pp. 142-159). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

  • Wharton-McDonald, R. M. (2017). Reading Comprehension in the Middle Grades: Characteristics, Challenges, and Effective Supports. In S. Israel (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Reading Comprehension, Second Edition (pp. 353-376). New York, NY: Guilford Publications.

  • Wharton-McDonald, R. M., with Pressley, M., & with Allington, R. (2015). Expert Literacy Teaching in the Primary Grades. In Reading Instruction that Works: The Case for Balanced Teaching (4th ed., pp. 277-313). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

  • Wharton-McDonald, R. (2011). Expert classroom instruction for students with reading disabilities: Explicit, intense, targeted . . . and flexible. In R. Allington, & A. McGill-Franzen (Eds.), Handbook of Reading Disabilities Research (1st ed., pp. 265-272). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

  • Wharton-McDonald, R., & Swiger, S. (2009). Developing higher order comprehension in the middle grades. In S. Israel, & G. Duffy (Eds.), Handbook of Reading Comprehension (pp. 510-530). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

  • Wharton-McDonald, R. (2008). The dynamics of flexibility in effective literacy teaching. In K. Cartwright (Ed.), Flexibility in literacy processes and instructional practice: Implications of developing representational ability for literacy teaching and learning (pp. 342-358). New York, NY: Guilford.

  • Pressley, M., Wharton-McDonald, R., Raphael, L., Bogner, K., & Roehrig, A. (2002). Exemplary first grade teaching. In B. Taylor, & P. D. Pearson (Eds.), Teaching reading: Effective schools, accomplished teachers (pp. 73-88). Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum & Associates.

  • Wharton-McDonald, R., & Williamson, J. (2002). Focus on the real and make sure it connects to kids' lives. In R. Allington, & P. Johnston (Eds.), Reading to learn: Lessons from exemplary fourth-grade classrooms (pp. 78-98). New York: Guilford.

  • Most Cited Publications