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Illiteracy is on the rise in the United States, and the potential negative impact on today’s struggling reader is devastating. Now more than ever, preparing pre-service teachers to be effective teachers of literacy is crucial. This study examined the growth in understandings of best practice literacy of eleven pre-service teachers through paired course and field work. Results reveal that through paired course and field work, growth of best practice literacy instruction is shown by pre-service teachers’ enhanced abilities to define, assign importance, and relate to implications for student learning as well as develop efficacy around their use. Results of this research have an impact on teacher preparation programs and highlight the importance of engaging pre-service teachers in literacy experiences that are connected to the course and field to better prepare them to meet the challenges of ensuring all students grow to be literate individuals.