By Christina Brownlee | Categories All | September 22, 2022

K-5 in-home reading program, Kids Read Now, selected as one of twelve 2022 Library of Congress Successful Practice Honorees for their implementation of highly successful practices in literacy promotion.

It’s no coincidence that September is National Literacy Month. Reading literacy is a core element of education and a key indicator of future success. We’ll keep working to ensure America’s future generations are better equipped to thrive.
#KidsDreamsDelivered #LiteracyMatters #LibraryofCongress

VIEW PRESS RELEASE HERE


By Josh Walsh | Categories All | September 13, 2022

We have had a mobile app for both Apple and Android devices for a few years now. For this year, we wanted to make sure that parents and kids alike took advantage of all the great features within the app.

We have seen a 20% increase over families using the app this year over last year. The app displays the students’ books that were selected, when they were shipped, as well as the discovery sheet questions that allow parents to engage with their children about the books they have read.

Plus, the app has been gamified! When kids report the books they read, they can see how they are doing against other classes in their district.

 

Read more from our Summer 2022 Newsletter!


By Christina Brownlee | Categories All | September 13, 2022

Kids Read Now welcomed community leaders and members to its exciting event on June 1st to kick off their 10th summer of helping kids reverse the summer reading slide and to tour their new, 40% larger fulfillment center! In attendance were 2022 Ohio gubernatorial candidate Nan Whaley, the Troy Chamber of Commerce, Miami County Commissioners Wade Westfall and Greg Simmons, Troy Mayor Robin Oda, and several administrators and students from the Vandalia-Butler School District, who have been engaged with Kids Read Now for ten years. Kids Read Now also presented a $500 scholarship to Vandalia-Butler High School graduate Brooke Long. Brooke participated in the summer reading program in elementary school and credits her love of reading, despite struggling with dyslexia, to Kids Read Now.

Kids Read Now co-founder, board member, and former teacher Barbara Lurie explained, “The effects of the summer slide can potentially be devastating for at-risk and struggling readers. Most low-income kids are a year behind in reading by the time they enter fourth grade. Studies have shown that the summer slide was the culprit for two-thirds of the reading gap between income levels.”

Kids Read Now partners with hundreds of school districts across the country. Hundreds of thousands of PreK-5 students have chosen books they want to read over the last ten years. Kids Read Now partners with school districts to gift those books, mailed to the student’s home over the summer. Fall and Winter sessions are now also available! Every book contains fun discussion questions and activities to increase comprehension, critical thinking skills, and parental engagement.

During her remarks, Whaley said, “They [Leib and Barbara Lurie] educated me on the power of reading in the summer and what a difference we can make. And, as we work to pass high-quality universal preschool for every four-year-old, having that to be a key part.” Both Whaley and Vandalia-Butler School District Principal Garry Martin praised Kids Read Now’s ability to engage students, especially during the Covid-19 lockdown that caused extended breaks from school.

Cheers to the next 10 years and our upcoming milestone of sending out our THREE MILLIONTH BOOK!

 

Read more from our Summer 2022 Newsletter!


By Leib Lurie | Categories All | September 13, 2022

Summer is the time to keep reading skills sharp; but there are broader needs.

Studies show that math skills slip even more than reading over the summer; and that even for kids who read, they need exposure to expanded content. Words they might be able to pronounce, but not understand hinder reading proficiency and frustrate children.

That’s why the Kids Read Now summer reading program for 2023 is expanding in multiple directions to make summer reading even more inviting and exciting.

First, in partnership with America’s Test Kitchens (ATK), the largest publisher of unbiased recipes for families, Kids Read Now will offer two exclusive, new cook books that kids may select to receive. One for Kindergarten through second grade, the other for young cooks in grades 3-5. The former will be things made without stoves; the latter will be more expansive. Both will feature kid tested, mother approved recipes for children to make on their own (or with a little help) over the summer. Young chefs will learn about shopping, measuring, timing, math, ingredients, utensils and more as they explore new foods and things to do to make sure summer is not a bummer.

Second, In partnership with Carson Dellosa Education (CDE) We will offer two STEM books. With do-it-yourself challenges, projects and experiments using everyday materials found at home. We will publish a version for K-2 and a more advanced one for kids in grades 3-5.

Using everyday items like tape, paper, clips, cups, pencils, food coloring, cloth, and cans; Students will learn about materials, construction, measurement, timing and more. To understand the science behind the project.

ATK cookbooks and CDE Stem books are usually on sale in hardcover or boxed versions for $15-$30.00 each; leaving them far out of reach of low income families with children at risk.

Kids Read Now will publish special low-cost paperback versions that every student can self-select as part of the books they wish to have mailed home by Kids Read Now. All to build literacy, improve reading scores and address the book deserts that can sentence poor kids to a lifetime of low literacy frustrations.

We are seeking corporate sponsors to help us publish these four new titles. Contact el.lee@kidsreadnow.org for information.

 

Read more from our Summer 2022 Newsletter!


By Randy Weddle | Categories All | September 13, 2022

Our Kids Read Now 2022 summer program is now in its final weeks. Our fulfillment center processed over 17,000 books a day for shipment to over 82,000 kids in 38 states across the country! This means that we have shipped over 800,000 books already this summer!

Our warehouse was wall to wall books as we began shipping books June 1st. Over 400,000 books were staged and prepped ready to be shipped to students.

We continually received books throughout May, June, and July to replenish books to ensure every student receives their 8 books plus a writing book called “My Stories” before they start school again at the end of August.

We implemented a new digital postal program to ensure kids that move or have a bad address in the system can be corrected within a day, allowing our team to reship a book within a few days to those children.

Over the next few weeks, we will ship all the remaining books to all the children in our program and help them gear up for Fall Celebrations to celebrate their students’ reading successes.

 

Read more from our Summer 2022 Newsletter!


By Leib Lurie | Categories All | September 13, 2022

The past few years have been traumatic on our kids and their families. Many have suffered steep declines in reading and math scores; compounded with the see-saw effect of remote/hybrid/in-person learning, masking, distancing and more. This left kids wondering what was next and what or where will ‘today’ be like’

In too many families, Covid took away a loved one, leaving kids with more trepidation of these and related unknowns. In other cases, parents’ emotions, jobs and schedules were at best, topsy-turvy; at worst stretching the family bounds.

Young children crave and need structure and consistency. When that falls away, they can, often do get anxious, emotional, upset, angry and fearful. This affects their ability to learn, and thrive.

Books can help.

Over half of the books in our wish list have been flagged by counselors and our literacy team as having clear and calming social emotional themes, messages, or story lines. These help children realize that their issues and problems are not unique or unbearable. That there is hope and joy to be found. Building clear messages: protagonists in these books rise to the occasion, and so can you.

We also plan to offer “It Starts With ME” written By Dr. Martin Luther King’s daughter, Dr. Bernice King and Dr. Kimberly Johnson. With the upbeat and positive message to “Be Love”.

Now, when students self-select the books they will love to read, and are at their comfortable reading level, teachers, who almost always can detect these emotional issues; can help guide children to the SEL icon that appears next to each book. Choosing books with great stories AND uplifting themes and messages of stability, heroism, overcoming adversity, love, loyalty and friendship will help our students and families emotionally build back better after Covid.

 

Read more from our Summer 2022 Newsletter!


By Leib Lurie | Categories All | September 6, 2022

We have all heard the many issues with labor shortage affecting many aspects of our lives this year. Kids Read Now found a unique way to get more books mailed, with fewer staff hours in our fulfillment operations this summer. 

Keane Manufacturing and The Greater Horizons Fund of Kansas City stepped up with prize money to sponsor a design contest. 

Working with the University of Dayton’s Engineering dept, we invited student teams to design and build a faster, better way for us to bundle and mail 15,000 books every day to help 100,000 kids improve literacy over the summer.

A panel of judges narrowed down the proposals, then the final five built working prototypes. Teams were judged on sophistication, costs, speed, scalability and more. The “Flying Minions” used affordable 3D printing technology and superior ergonomic design to reduce repetitive motion strain and significantly speed up the process required to bundle books for mailing. 

Thanks to these cash donations and the in-kind donation of University staff and resources, KRN reduced labour hours needed and increased productivity and output. 

All to get more books to more kids in need, for less.

 

Read more from our Summer 2022 Newsletter!


By Dr. Kelly Moran | Categories Critical Thinking | Educators | Engagement - Classroom | K-5 Literacy | Reading | Reading Instruction | The Science of Reading | July 26, 2022

Win. Excel. Beat a personal best. These are the mindsets of athletes. Even those who are not athletes know that in order to meet goals such as winning or surpassing a personal record one must practice, put in hard work, train, learn technique, and take feedback to help refine performance. In addition to the aforementioned commitments, athletes know that having a good coach is just as important as putting in the reps and having the proper equipment. In many instances it can be the determining factor in landing first on the podium or scoring the winning point in overtime. There are many parallels to athletic achievement on the field, court, or course as there are to academic success in the school setting. Educators want their students to experience success in academics that yield the same dopamine highs associated with winning a game or crossing the finish line that a coach desires for his or her athletes.

With a recent emphasis on structured literacy, The Science of Reading, and Dyslexia, many school leaders are turning their focus to a systematic and schoolwide approach to improving literacy. These building and district leaders are without a doubt coaches who motivate, train, counsel, and shepherd their “athlete” teachers in best practices for developing skilled readers. Just as players come to the game prepared with the proper footwear, rest, and hydration, coaches come prepared with their knowledge, encouragement, and (arguably most importantly) their playbook.

The school leader is no different from the athletic coach. Both show up at the game site early, they mentally rehearse encouraging epithets and motivating quotes, and both stay up late studying performance data. What may be missing from the school leader’s arsenal, however, is the coveted, confidential, and team or athlete-specific playbook. This priceless piece of “equipment” is the ultimate blueprint for success outlining the steps from start-to-finish as well as possible adjustments for those instances in which an opponent calls an audible….much like when a new student from two states over shows up at your front doorstep on a Monday morning mid February after having been immersed up until that point in time in a curriculum drastically different than what is covered in your school.

If you are reading this as a school leader, put the bullhorn down and grab your clipboard and pen (and even a stopwatch if you’d like) and take some notes. Here are the top ten plays you should have in your literacy acceleration playbook.

Recruit – Coaches are always working. During the offseason they are scouting talent and recruiting the future playmakers for their team. They invest in the performers who are dedicated, skilled, and passionate. It is important to remember that even winning coaches may not be able to hand pick every single player on the team. They may even have inherited some individuals who bring a bad attitude or have a history of defiance. In such instances however, adept coaches do not let those individuals impede positive energy nor the potential of the greater collective. Successful coaches invest their time and energy in the majority of team members who show up everyday with their chins held high, their shoelaces tied tight, and their eyes on the goal line.

Practice – Success in athletics can largely be attributed to the degree and amount of intentional and focused practice. A true athlete would never show up on a game day expecting a victory without putting in the reps first. Practice is all about repetition, being active in the daily routine, showing up with intention, and being dependable even when one doesn’t feel like it. Legendary coaches never skip practice for a meeting (or a phone call with a parent). They are in the action right alongside the players, often even disregarding the clear boundary lines that are strictly adhered to during games or matches. They are modeling, observing, taking notes, instructing, and giving feedback. As an instructional leader, ask yourself how much of your day is spent in actual classrooms “practicing” alongside teachers, versus how much time is spent in your office. Challenge yourself to be a visible leader, one who is always a part of the daily practice, and someone who takes the first swing to show others what is expected. Make it your goal to visit your least favored spots in the building first thing each day or week and don’t back down on your reps even during busy times of the year.

Hydrate – Serious athletes take nutrition seriously. Hydration is key not only to performance but also to mental clarity. Coaches are extremely mindful of how hydration is linked to biochemics and physical efficiency. Planning and preparing for water breaks is a key element of the playbook. As a school leader, make sure that you are refueling and pre-fueling your team with the proper and most aligned source of professional hydration as possible. Ensure that teachers are regularly and consistently consuming quality professional development, reputable texts and articles to read, and engaging media to grow their minds and prime them for peak performance in the classroom.

Fundamentals – Youth skills camps exist for a reason which is why you’ll often find coaches devoting their offseason to working with the future generation of players. No one expects to make a “hole in one” the first time they pick up a seven iron or nail a flip turn the first time they swim the backstroke. Leaders need to start small in order to accomplish big wins. Identify which basic and important skills need mastering and then narrow the focus of the building or district to practicing, refining, and perfecting those skills.

Study Your Opponent – Serious athletes and their coaches are always “eyeing up the competition.” They know who they are competing against and what that individual’s or team’s strengths and weaknesses are. You cannot overcome barriers if they remain blindspots. Just as athletic coaches study the performance of competitors, an educational leader needs to study the learning environment to know where the pitfalls exist. What are the obstacles in your building and how can you be prepared on both offense and defense to address them? As the leader, it is up to you to get to the root of the problem(s) and take the first step in preparing for stronger performance.

Watch Film – Often in education the players and coaches methodically and perhaps even subconsciously keep moving forward. Sometimes seemingly robotic, the leader and teachers move to do the very next thing, start the next day, or go to the next meeting. To an outsider they might be observed as only striving to keep the daily/weekly routine going with giving little thought to anything else. They appear to be tied to the bell, bus, and recess schedules. Athletic coaches remind us of the power of reflection. Before moving to the next game or practice, they pause and devote time to study game film. They reflect on highs and lows studying performance, and consider what could have been better and what to do differently the next time around. As the school leader ask yourself where the meeting for debriefing is, when is the reflection time scheduled for, and whether or not you provided feedback recently. Are there practices in place for studying and reflecting upon performance in your building?

Celebrate Small Victories – Respected coaches are those who are able to step away from relentless skill drills at times to embrace joy, fun, and celebration. The coaches that lead by fear and punishment create players who become resentful and burned out. School leaders should also find time to motivate, encourage, lift up, empower, and celebrate employees and the school community. If you don’t celebrate along the way, teaching and learning begins to feel like drudgery and staff and students lose the purpose for working hard to win. Celebrate small victories to keep momentum high which will yield continued participation, teamwork, camaraderie, and clear vision in the long run.

Know Your Stats – Author and acclaimed management consultant Peter Drucker reminds us that “you can’t improve what you don’t measure” (Drucker, 2018). When you think about it, there’s really no surprise as to why coaches are always carrying around a clipboard…they are compiling data on every aspect of the game and player performance. They can often recite their athlete’s stats from memory. They know these stats because they also know with crystal clear clarity the exact goal they are working towards and how close or far away from that goal they are at any given point in time. School leaders also need to set goals, both on a personal or micro level and on a professional or macro level. Reviewing one’s stats and reflecting upon performance is the only way to grow.

Get In The Game – Masterful coaches take real action. One cannot win if he/she isn’t actually in the game. Ever notice how a coach is so close to the boundary line that they risk getting a penalty from the umpire or referee? This is because experienced coaches know that to be the best leader they can be, they need to be as immersed in the activity alongside their players as possible. This is also why coaches “dress the part.” Although they aren’t permitted to actually physically perform on the field or course alongside their athletes they dress in a way that shows their team that they are “in the game” right alongside them. They are often the first one to show up on game day and the last one to leave. How are you demonstrating to your staff that you are “in the game”? What ideas have you had related to your literacy initiative that you haven’t taken action yet on for whatever reason? This is the year to set a date for that parent education night you’ve wanted to hold, to buy the new materials needed by your staff, schedule that tough meeting you’ve been avoiding or finally start doing real authentic walkthroughs in the classroom that needs some support, feedback, and guidance.

Watch the Clock – In the close games or matches the coach will always be alert to watching the clock and will know after each play exactly how much time remains. A winning coach makes bold moves with little time remaining. They rely on expertise, experience, and composure to make decisions. They are strategic in every way. Each school year only has 180 days. Therefore, the clock starts now. What action are you going to take and what decisions will you make while the clock ticks down to bring your team and students to victory. Game on!

Your literacy acceleration playbook is full and ready for utilization. The power is literally in your hands. Remember that school leaders, just like coaches, find themselves in a position of influence for a reason. Leaders and coaches have spent time refining skills and “competing” in the ranks. Others see within them the capacity to make change, drive improvement, and garner results. The decisions you make this year will give students the opportunities to build confidence, develop skills, put in the reps, and perhaps even start to develop their own leadership style. Maybe one day you’ll proudly pass down your clipboard to one of them.

Drucker, J. D. (2018, April 12). You Are What You Measure. Forbes. Retrieved June 19, 2018, from
https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2018/12/04/you-are-what-you-measure/?sh=511b24602075

Interested in the KRN quarterly newsletter? See articles from our most recent issue and ask to join the recipient list here!


By Glen Miller | Categories All | July 20, 2022

Need to improve proficiency scores? Move forward by not going backward. Losing reading skill is perennial, impacts all students (especially economically disadvantaged kids,) and IS AVOIDABLE. Two research studies (University of Wisconsin and Arizona State University) indicate the Kids Read Now program has shown to eliminate summer reading slide. The evidence is clear.  There are four key components that must be included.

Kids Read Now is a research based non-profit organization focused on closing the achievement gap through literacy among Pk-5 students. Their work was recently recognized by Johns Hopkins University Best Evidence in Brief as a “promising approach for schools looking to engage kids over the summer months.”  Schools typically address this issue through in-person intervention which can cost between $1500-$3000 per student and is narrow in scope. Furthermore, districts are task teachers with summer responsibilities at a time when they need to refuel personally and professionally for the upcoming school year. Is it time to partner with a nonprofit?

Kids Read Now partners with school districts to not only relieve the pressure of learning loss but also lighten the load for teachers and administrators during those key summer months. For more information on partnership opportunities for the 2022-23 school year visit www.kidsreadnow.org or arrange a short demo on the four key components to the Kids Read Now program.

Interested in the KRN quarterly newsletter? See articles from our most recent issue and ask to join the recipient list here!


By Leib & Barb Lurie | Categories All | May 19, 2022

Laura Lou Bemus was not just a terrific educator, but an amazing sharing and giving person.

Her kids and ours grew up together, so we saw through more than 3 decades how this unique individual handled herself, her beliefs, her drive and always, always- building on her self-eternalized vision of how to make family life, classrooms or, in our case, the nationwide Kids Read Now program better. Better for all kids, parents and educators.

She was affiliated with Kids Read Now as a consultant for nearly all our ten years of serving children. Gently prodding us to change and expand what we did and how we could better reach, serve, and build reading skills for students.

Some know that when a good friend died unexpectedly, just after her husband passed; leaving Laura and Brad as (surprise!) guardians of her five kids, she didn’t dawdle, but buckled down and accepted them and their unique needs as a challenge of love and grace on top of her three.

Others know that she worked tirelessly in the background to assure Greenville schools had quality new facilities and the operating budget to better educate their rural community.

Our neighbors in Vandalia and Greenville know how diligently she worked the system to get every available nickel out of federal, state and local funds and budgets to constantly improve the services and educational results of ‘her’ kids; and that’s how she viewed every child in the districts she served.

We know how crisp, clear and cogent she could be presenting to educators from across the state, sharing her knowledge, experience, tricks and techniques so other administrators could work to be the best versions of themselves that they could be.

Despite these many ups and downs, and years of dealing (silently) with chronic knee pain; when her last battle of the body started; her faith and belief in God and his power and the potential for a better tomorrow never faltered; in fact it grew and flourished as the battle grew more and more intense. Through surgeries, painful treatments, and many ups and downs; her smiling outlook shone through; to us and to the hundreds of supporters on her Friends of Laura Bemus Facebook page where motivating messages of support from friends, family, colleagues and families of students kept up a steady tempo of positivity.

Over the years, at dinner with Brad and Laura; we could discuss kids, grandkids, students, schools and more in a never-ending round robin of news, issues and reflections on how this or that happened and how, as she said, it always happened as God intended and would work itself out.

But this. This is a very personal and painful time that deeply challenges our faith.

Cancer is the ultimate scourge that took my mom and sister, both younger than Laura; and has torn apart so many other lives. All we can do now is pray for her peace and love; as it does and will shine through. Forever.

Kids Read Now will welcome gifts in her honor, as we want to offer the Laura Bemus Summer Reading Classroom Scholarship grant to Greenville; where every student in one first grade class will get nine new books mailed home; books that have and will continue, we hope, to trigger and ignite the love of reading that was so near to her heart and soul.

Leib and Barb Lurie
Co-founders, Kids Read Now

Read more from our Spring 2022 Newsletter!