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About Us > Staff & Faculty > Mary Thelander

Mary J. Thelander

Email: mary.thelander@utoronto.ca

Mary J. Thelander, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor (adjunct) in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology, University of Toronto. Her research and program development is concentrated on the relationship among social development, language, narrative and literacy in minority-language children between three and nine years of age. It focuses specifically on determining if direct instruction in narrative language and social reasoning through concentrated exposure to children’s stories coded for social reasoning complexity improves literacy achievement. Further, she is investigating whether social reasoning and second-language learning independently predict literacy.

FROM 3 TO 3™ is a program created by Dr. Thelander to develop children’s literacy through story. The evidence-based program is used widely throughout the Toronto District School Board. It has also been adopted by the Algoma District School Board. The program focuses on developing teacher understanding of narrative and social reasoning in the classroom and providing materials and procedures for classroom teachers that develop children’s language, narrative and social reasoning and raise level of reading achievement.

Recently using the FROM 3 TO 3™ program model as a foundation, Dr. Thelander is piloting a program for use in homeless shelters. The intention of the program is to provide a portable and sustainable approach for mothers’ who are homeless to encourage language and narrative development with young children.

Dr. Thelander's areas of interest include development of social reasoning; narrative development; theory and teaching practice change; primary-grade curriculum development; communication and behavioural and emotional disorders; program evaluation; and community research.

Research presentations

Thelander, M. (2013) How to Improve Social Reasoning in Minority Language Children from Minority Culture. Paper. International Congress of Psychology, Stockholm, Sweden.

Thelander, M. & Comay, J. (April 2009) Using stories to develop narrative and social understanding in children. Symposium: Engaging children’s social cognition for literacy instruction. Society for Research in Child Development, chair: M. Thelander, Denver, U.S.A.

Thelander, M. & Falenchuk, O. (July 2008) Developing language and social understanding in the early years. Symposium: Language and Thought. International Congress of Psychology, Berlin, Germany.

Thelander, M. & Filoppova, E. (March 2007) Relationship between social reasoning and school success in second-language learners. Symposium: Learning to Read Minds: Perspectives on the Acquisition and Development of Theory of Mind, Language and Literacy. Society for Research in Child Development, Boston, U.S.A.

Thelander, M., Comay, J., Filoppova, E. (March 2007) Assessing social reasoning in oral and written stories for children: a theoretical model. Society for Research in Child Development, Boston, U.S.A.

Thelander, M. (June 2005) Symposium: Advances in social reasoning beyond the preschool years. Jean Piaget Society, Vancouver.

Thelander, M. (2004) What underlies later-developing theory of mind: linguistic or cognitive ability? International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development, Ghent, Belgium.

Filoppova, Eva & Thelander, M. (2004) Theory of Mind in School-Aged Children. International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development, Ghent, Belgium.


Hoen, B., Thelander, M. &Worsley, J. (1997). Improvement in psychological well being of people with aphasia and their families: evaluation of a community-based programme. Aphasiology, 11.

Aphasia - A New Life, A handbook for helping communities. (1992). Toronto: Coopershill Publishing Inc.

Hung, D. & Thelander, M. (1978). A three week camp programme for 18 autistic children. Exceptional Children, Spring.

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