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"The creative impulse, like love, can be killed, but it cannot be taught. What a teacher or librarian or parent can do, in working with children, is to give the flame enough oxygen so that it can burn. As far as I'm concerned, this providing of oxygen is one of the noblest of all vocations." - Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet

Dr. Mary Ann Cappiello is a Professor of Language and Literacy in the Graduate School of Education at Lesley. Prior to that, she served as a curriculum facilitator for English Language Arts and Social Studies at the middle level, and she taught English Language Arts and Humanities at the middle and high school level in New York and New Hampshire.

At Lesley, she teaches courses in children's and young adult literature and literacy methods, including a specialized course in nonfiction for children and young adults. She also mentors the content literacy and children’s literature courses and advises doctoral students. Previously, she served as program director of the Collaborative Internship Program, a residency-based teacher preparation program in its fifth decade.

Mary Ann co-chaired the writing team for the National Council of Teachers of English’s (NCTE) 2023 Position Statement on the Role of Nonfiction Literature (K-12). From 2015-2018 she was a member of the National Council of Teachers of English's Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction (K-8) Committee, serving two years as chair. In 2022, Mary Ann led the national “Kids Love Nonfiction” campaign with Dr. Xenia Hadjioannou.

With Erika DawesGrace Enriquez, and Katie Cunningham, she is the coauthor of Reading with Purpose: Selecting and Using Children’s Literature for Inquiry and Engagement (Teachers College Press, 2023). With Erika Dawes, she is the co-author of Text Sets in Action: Pathways Through Content Area Literacy (Stenhouse, 2021), as well as Teaching with Text Sets (Shell, 2012) and Teaching to Complexity: A Framework for Evaluating Literary and Content-Area Texts (Shell, 2014). Mary Ann is also the author of the 2021 historical essay, “Searching for Dinah Tuck.”

Mary Ann has been a guest on public radio and a consultant to public television, and her work has appeared in The Reading TeacherEnglish Journal, Language Arts, The Dragon Lode, School Library Journal, and School Library Connection. She champions the use of biography in the K-12 classroom at The Biography Clearinghouse.  Previously, Mary Ann reviewed children's and middle-grade books for Language Arts and blogged about children's and young adult literature for over a decade at "The Classroom Bookshelf," a School Library Journal blog. Mary Ann was also a consultant on the PBS kids' show "Molly of Denali." Read more about her participation.

Mary Ann serves on the Advisory Board of the Children’s Literacy Foundation (CLIF), the Program Committee of the American Independence Museum (AIM), and is the 2023 Co-Chair/2024 Lead Chair of the Children’s Literature Assembly of NCTE’s Expert Class Committee.


BA, Haverford College
MA, Teachers College, Columbia University
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University

Selected Publications


  • Dawes, E., Cunningham, K., Enriquez, G., and Cappiello, M.A. (2023). Reading with purpose: Selecting and using children’s literature for inquiry and engagement. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Cappiello, M.A. (2022). Searching for Dinah Tuck. In Augusta, P., Rule, R., Duffy, G., & Purdy, J. (Eds.) Ten Piscataqua Writers: An Anthology from the Watershed. Portsmouth, NH: Ten Piscataqua.
  • Dawes, E. & Cappiello, M.A. (2021). Text sets in action: Pathways through content area literacy. Portsmouth, NH: Stenhouse Publishers.
  • Cappiello, M.A., & Dawes, E. (2015). Teaching for complexityA framework to evaluate literary and content-area texts. Huntington Beach, CA: Shell Education.
  • Cappiello, M.A., & Dawes, E. (2013). Teaching with text sets. Huntington Beach, CA: Shell Education.

Webinars and Podcasts

Selected Articles

  • Cappiello, M.A., Hadjioannou, X. (2022). Exploring the purposes of backmatter in nonfiction picturebooks for children: A typology. The Reading Teacher. 76(3), 309-316.
  • Cunningham, K. E., Cappiello, M. A., Dawes, E. T., & Enriquez, G. (2021). The pitfalls and potential of anthropomorphism in children’s literature. In Animals are us: Anthropomorphism in children's literature: Celebrating the Peter J. Solomon collection. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 
  • Dawes, E.T., Cappiello, M.A., Magee, L. B. (January, 2019). Portraits of perseverance: Reading and writing picture book biographies with third graders. Language Arts. 96(3). TBD.
  • Cappiello, M.A., Aziz, S., Davila, D., Grabarek, D., Graff, J. M.,  Riley, S., Waugh, J. (November, 2018). The 2018 Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children. Language Arts. 96(2) TBD.
  • Cappiello, M.A. (June 2018). “Behind the Scenes with Henry VIII’s Wives: Fatal Throne.” School Library Journal.
  • Cappiello, M.A. (February 2018). The Creation of Mary's Monster - A Conversation with Lita JudgeSchool Library Journal. 
  • Cappiello, M., & Stewart, M. (March, 2018). Understanding categories of nonfiction for young people. School Library Connection. 3(5), 29-32.

Selected Presentations and Exhibits


  • Harland, P., Cappiello, M.A., Lieberman, B., Marino, M., Traux, T. "Stranger than Fiction: Increasing Access to Nonfiction Texts." Concord, NH. December 2022. Christa McAuliffe Transforming, Teaching, & Technology Conference. Virtual Session.
  • Cappiello, M.A., Hadjioannou, X. “Capturing the Spark of Inquiry: Nonfiction Illuminating the World for Young People.” Roundtable Session Leaders. Anaheim, California. November 2022. National Council of Teachers of English Annual Conference.
  • Dawes, E.T., Cappiello, M.A. “Footprints, Feathers, and Foundations: Multimodal, Multigenre Text Sets and Reading Comprehension.” Cambridge, MA. November 2022. Literacy for All: Annual Northeast PreK-8 Literacy Conference.
  • Cappiello, M.A., Dawes, E.T. “More than Words: The Roles and Responsibilities of Images in Nonfiction Picture Books.” Boston, MA. November 2022. John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site and the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, “Framing History: The Power of Pictures Conference.”
  • Cappiello, M.A. “The Power of Images: Translating History.” Moderator. Boston, MA. November 2022. John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site and the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, “Framing History: The Power of Pictures Conference.”
  • Bryant, J., Cappiello, M.A., Dawes, E., Hadjioannou, X. Tate, D. ““Using Life Stories for Justice, Equity and Anti-racist Teaching: The Biography Clearinghouse.” November 2021. National Council of Teachers of English Annual Virtual Conference.
  • Dawes, E.T., Cappiello, M.A. “Text Sets and the Drive to Discover.” October 2021. Literacy for All: Annual Northeast PreK-8 Literacy Virtual Conference.
  • “Picture This: Community.” Moderator. New York, NY. May 2021. School Library Journal  Virtual Day of Dialog.

Museum Exhibit

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