By Leib Lurie | Categories Book Deserts | Educators | Equity | K-5 Literacy | Learning Loss | Opportunity Gap | Summer Reading | May 19, 2022

In 2012, my wife Barb and I were commiserating about the state of reading in the country—specifically what she, a 4th grade teacher, called ‘the dreaded summer slide’.

Far too many kids, particularly from families that struggle, head back into class every fall, with less opportunity than their peers. They are not as engaged. They struggle with review material. They hold back, as their enthusiastic and engaged classmates wave hands in the air and shout out answers.

This struggle is real. Poor children are historically woefully behind their well-off peers, and every summer, the opportunity gap widens. After failed initiatives, generational disadvantage, and Covid exacerbated opportunity disparities, 75% of poor children are not proficient in reading. Can you imagine not being able to read your textbooks in school?

Our education system is struggling, and with the recent upsets and extended breaks in learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic, more kids are struggling too.

Ten years ago, Kids Read Now was formed to eradicate the summer slide, which has been shown to cause 2/3 of the achievement gap between kids with opportunities and those who are at-risk and living in poverty. We just knew that a viable, successful, scalable summer literacy program could be developed and would give disadvantaged kids a real opportunity to become great readers and, in turn, give them the means to escape a life of poverty.

We have made tremendous progress. Our program has been refined and scaled. In 2022, we project that over 80,000 students in 31 states will each be gifted 9 books. Our team of educators selects popular and loved books that kids are most likely to want and to read and create a Wish List catalog of over 130 titles to choose from. By partnering with Penguin Random House and other top publishers, Kids Read Now is able to offer the best books for PreK-5 kids.

Whether we are serving a tiny remote community in Alaska or thousands of students in one of America’s largest school districts, Kids Read Now provides a turnkey approach to literacy success. We can’t wait to see what our next ten years can do for America’s future.

“I just wanted to say how much I appreciate you doing this for our kids. Some of the students in my room only read books at school because they have no books at home. So, thank you very much for helping them out… I know how much they love getting a book.”   – Annie Groves, WV


By El Lee | Categories Events | Funding | K-5 Literacy | News | May 19, 2022

The Current Situation
Did you know that up to 65% of kids across the country are not reading at grade level? Kids Read Now’s mission of eliminating learning loss and building home libraries for every PreK-5 student in the country is more important and pressing than ever. We are currently partnering with schools in over 30 states, and we have plans to expand to all 50 states by 2025. The Kids Read Now (KRN) in-home reading program is evidence-based, and replicable. Unlike other book programs, Kids Read Now includes unique components like student choice and parental engagement.

New KRN Initiatives
We would love to extend a warm welcome and immeasurable gratitude to the innovative Kids Read Now Development Task Force. The Development Task Force is tasked with developing ongoing fundraising strategies that will leverage monetary support from corporations, foundations, and individuals. Subsequently this allows Kids Read Now to reach more kids in need across the country and build home libraries in even the driest book deserts.

 

Upcoming Events
Kids Read Now is excited to announce our anniversary event on June 1, 2022 from 12pm – 2pm. We will celebrate our recent move to a bigger and better fulfillment center, 10 years of building home libraries for kids, and the delivery of our 3 millionth book! Educators, authors, and local dignitaries will speak and we will present a scholarship to an original Kids Read Now student who is entering her first year of college in the fall. Please visit this link for more information and to RSVP to attend!

 


By Rachel Benedict | Categories Challenges | Choices | Critical Thinking | Engagement - Family | K-5 Literacy | Reading | February 3, 2022

It’s no secret that we love books here at Kids Read Now. We love watching kids pick their own books. We love sending those books straight to their homes. We love seeing kids get excited to get new and exciting books in the mail. Most of all, we love how this process helps kids beat back learning loss and reinforces a future-changing lifelong habit.

 

But while we’re helping kids across the country form a love for reading, adults are reading fewer books on average according to a new Gallup poll. The new data on book reading reinforce that the popularity of reading is waning, with Americans reading an average of three fewer books last year than they did five years ago and had typically read for the past three decades. The poll speculates that adults’ reading numbers are down due to Covid-related restrictions and the difficulty of visiting libraries or bookstores, despite the ability to download and read eBooks.

 

Kids need to see adults reading. Kids who are around readers are more likely to read as well. The benefits for kids who read are pretty incredible, but did you know that adults need to read too? Just like kids, adults can improve their cognitive thinking skills, expand their vocabularies, deepen their levels of concentration, develop social intelligence and empathy, and help them reduce stress and take a break from the real world.

 

Here are my top 5 ways to read more in 2022.

  1. Create a Goodreads account

Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. Their mission is to help people find and share books they love.

  1. Sign up for a library card

Visit your local library or sign up for an e-card. Now you can request books from the library online, peruse the shelves in person, or download books to listen to or read without leaving home!

  1. Set a reading goal for the year

Goodreads lets every user set a book goal for the year and tracks your progress through each book. You can do this easily on your own by creating a sheet at home to track the books you read.

  1. Dedicate time to read every single day

Doctors agree that screen time before bed is a big no-no, but reading before bed can help your mind and body relax. Knowing that you have time every day to read can give you comfort in the constant.

  1. Read with family and friends

Read a book aloud with your kids and make all the funny voices. Read the same books as your friends and discuss it. Read your favorite passages to your spouse or friends. Normalize reading and discussing books!

 

The bottom line? We need to read.

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By Dr. Anne Marie Ristow | Categories Challenges | Choices | Curriculum | Early Education | Educators | Engagement - Classroom | Engagement - Family | Equity | Inclusion | K-5 Literacy | Reading | Reading Instruction | January 14, 2022

There’s this widgetsmith on the opening screen of my iPhone that reads, “As long as we’re creating it’s not too late to change our story.”

People’s stories motivate and inspire but they also connect us, help us grow. Throughout my years of being an educator, tucking in beside my fellow professionals, really hearing their journey, it has been transforming. Listening, truly listening, opens my mind and eyes to perspectives, broadening a reality that I was otherwise unaware. Stories also shape and expand our teaching blueprint.

Growing up a small town girl in the northern United States gave me loads of opportunity to get lost in stories. From listening to my grandparents share stories to being mesmerized by great readings at the local library, life opened up for me.

Given my best friend’s father was the town’s librarian, many evenings and weekends were spent lounged across soft rugs with giant pillows traveling to far away places through the pages of a book. As I breezed through the letters on the page that made words into sentences and sentences into adventures that fed my imagination, I was quite aware that the very experiences I found solace within offered great pain and sometimes discomfort for my friend. Needless to say, I did a lot of reading aloud.

My friend loved to hear stories and it was an incredible treat when getting to view stories playing out live on a stage. You see, the process of reading caused her great angst. She is dyslexic. Take it to the classroom and the print on the page represented very different things for the two of us.

What I noticed as a young child was that just because our brains worked differently, a common experience such as reading text had contrasting outcomes for each of us. Someone very dear to me once shared, “Teachers can change the way they teach but dyslexics cannot change the way they learn.” What this evolves into for an instructional design perspective on the diverse needs of learners: the secret strength I found in teaching through a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) lens. In the case of how I learned reading and how my friend learned reading: presentation of materials, or provisions of multiple means of representation as well as action and expression, were key but equally important was engagement.

Let’s take my friend for example. Given learning derived from her mainly through auditory (hearing) or tactile (touching), she learned by hearing or touching and then that information would process through her auditory or tactile memories. When you compare that to my approach to learning being mainly visual (through my eyes), I could comprehend problems, solve them and commit the solution to my visual memory. For me, everything I would ‘read’, both real and symbolic, would link to my perception center. Recognizing a word and processing the word to meaning didn’t require actually hearing the word. For my friend, visual symbols were compromised causing her to compensate by relying on what she heard in her head to associate meaning.

Ready to leverage my childhood story to expand your teacher blueprint to be more inclusive? The following visual provides some examples of building provisions within your teaching and learning to offer students with dyslexia agency in learning. Oh, and don’t overlook this included audio file reading the visual, it’s called inclusive design.

 

Strive to expand your teaching blueprint to include the complete Universal Design for Learning Guidelines (UDL). You’ll be so glad you did and so will your students!

There is a lot to learn from stories. But just like my childhood story, there are often missed opportunities of great significance in the unheard. Stories change our perspective, open our minds and eyes, broaden our reality and shape and expand our teaching blueprint. Learning to truly listen in on the narratives of our profession has proven to be my greatest teacher and perhaps it can do the same for you, too.


By Dr. Kelly Moran | Categories Choices | Educators | Engagement - Community | Engagement - Family | Journaling | K-5 Literacy | Listening | Reading | January 7, 2022

Rejoice! We have made it to a new year.  Many of us educators were itching for 2020 to come to a rapid close only to find ourselves wishing 2021 away just as quickly.  Despite the recent challenges we have encountered, many of us still had the pleasure of ending the year with some sort of a holiday tradition in which gifts were exchanged.  No matter how you feel about the past year(s), I hope that you were able to find joy in both the time spent with loved ones this past holiday season and in the exercise of exchanging gifts. Of all the presents I give and receive each year, my most favorite and treasured ones are always books.

 

The gift of a book provides more than just an enjoyable reading experience, it adds value and companionship to the recipient’s life.  This year instead of falling into the same familiar routine of setting a short-lived resolution around the common goals of finance and fitness, I thought I would instead resolve to pay forward the gift of reading a great book.  Here is a list of twelve ways in 2022 that you can join me in the pursuit of sharing with the world the joy of receiving and reading a book.

 

  1. Email the Author.  I am often deeply intrigued by an author after reading his/her work.  I wonder what he/she is like as a person, what other books he/she has written, who their significant other is, and if they have children.  Many times I conduct an internet search and follow him/her on social media.  Despite all of this junior level web investigating, I rarely take the time to thank the actual author him/herself for the work he/she created and how it influenced me.  This year I plan to send an email to the authors whose books I read to thank them for their work, effort, and time spent in crafting something of value for the world.
  2. Dinner Table Talk.  Family dinners are wonderful times to reconnect and engage in thoughtful conversation.  Too often though, they unintentionally become complaint sessions highlighting the day’s hardships.  Consider reframing dinner time chats by sharing with your family the latest book read.  Tell your tribe what you learned from the book or how you are applying it to your life.  This is also a great way, if you are a parent of young children, to get your offspring to open up about the books they are reading as well as model for them how dialogue about text can strengthen comprehension.
  3. Journal Entry.  Talking about a book is a wonderful way to gift its message to others, but writing about it allows for an even deeper level of intimate gratitude for the work.  If you are anything like me, journaling is a habit I’m not consistent with, but one that I strive to practice more consistently.  Set a goal to write a journal entry after each book you finish this year. This intention will help you stay accountable for opening up your journal more often and engaging in reflective practice of content consumed through reading.  If you are stuck on what to write, consider the following questions:  What did I learn? How was I feeling while reading?  How can I lift one or two ideas from the book to become a better version of myself this year?
  4. Amazon Review.  Ever notice that reviews seem to be laced with negativity and despair?  Change the tone and gift your positive thoughts of a recently read book out on the Web.  You’ll feel good about the uplifting content you’ve put out in the world plus the author will undoubtedly benefit from your time spent in alerting others to his/her work.
  5. Staff Meeting Share.  For many of us, monthly staff meetings tend to be filled with boring updates, frustrating questions, and unwelcomed mandates.  Why not liven up your next staff meeting with a sharing out of a recent book you’ve read this year? Showing your team that you do more in life than just tell them what to do all the time, will not only help you appear more personable, it will also build your intellectual credibility.
  6. Schedule Send.  Draft an email to yourself and schedule it to be sent to your inbox one month from today.  In the email ask yourself how you’ve been applying a recently read book to your life and what themes or new ideas learned from that text have yet to be applied.
  7. Showcase to Students.  Whether you are a classroom teacher, a curriculum coach, an adjunct professor, or a building principal showcasing a recently read book with students in your organization will spread the gift of having a role model who values reading.  The act of conducting a book share to students can be done in-person or virtually.  Giving students a glimpse of what adults are reading, how they talk about text, and how books can impact a life is a priceless gift.
  8. Book Breathe.  Life is busy and even hectic and stressful at times.  Most mobile devices and smart watches today have a breathing or meditation app. Tap the app and mentally revisit the book you are currently reading or one you have recently finished.  The act of closing your eyes, slowing your breath, and focusing on only one thing will give your body a chance to settle its heart rate, increase your happiness level, and set you up for a smoother transition to your next appointment.  During your book breath moment you can focus on a single character, a new concept learned, visualize yourself in the setting, or simply exhale thanks to the author for crafting something that brings you happiness.
  9. Conference Proposal.  What better way to give out the gift you’ve received from a recently read book than by presenting on the topic at a conference to colleagues in your field?  Consider submitting a conference proposal that highlights a recent accomplishment aligned with the themes or principles from a book you’ve recently read. Share with the world your story of finding inspiration in a book to help channel the energy to achieve something great in your personal or professional life. Look at the theme of an upcoming conference you want to attend and ask yourself how the books you’ve read so far this year align to that topic.
  10. Tweet.  Snap a picture of the book cover and hop on Twitter.  Tweet your image with your recommendation or comment.  Don’t forget to tag the author and include a hashtag if applicable.  Not only will the author feel the gift of your social media gratitude, but your followers will receive the gift of a great recommendation of what to read next.
  11. Buy an Extra Copy.  What better way to give back to others the gift you’ve received from a new book than by buying a second copy for a friend, family member, or colleague.  In this instance both the author and the recipient benefit from your generosity. Keep the joy of gifting alive all year long.
  12. Unexpected Treasure.  Letting go of something you love isn’t easy, but it is an ultimate sacrifice that has the potential to yield immeasurable happiness.  Write a message on the inside cover of the book you just finished and leave it someplace in your town or community for someone to stumble upon unexpectedly.  Perhaps you decide to leave it in a waiting room, on a park bench, or in a hotel room.  No doubt the universe will select its next intended recipient with care.   Who knows…maybe he or she will keep the gift giving going and pass that same book along to someone else after they’ve finished reading.

By Rachel Benedict | Categories Choices | Critical Thinking | Engagement - Community | K-5 Literacy | Listening | Reading | Reading Instruction | December 17, 2021

At first glance nonfiction books can seem intimidating – facts, numbers, research, real-world stuff, EEK! – but nonfiction doesn’t have to intimidating or overwhelming. In fact, it can be quite fun with several benefits that kids may not even realize they’re gaining! Embracing nonfiction is one of the best things any kid can do.

Here are some of the top reasons every kid should embrace nonfiction.

  1. Develop Critical Thinking Skills

Reading nonfiction materials help children develop important critical thinking skills. Nonfiction texts allow kids to ask a specific question that they are interested in, such as “What do horses eat?”, and then go on the hunt for the answer. Fostering this investigative drive will undoubtedly develop some serious critical thinking skills. It will also allow kids to think about where they can find the information.

  1. Gain Knowledge of the World

Nonfiction texts can help kids learn more about other towns or cities, parts of the world, cultures, planets, species, or even more about their own history. Nonfiction gives kids opportunities to see how the world works and lets them safely explore from their favorite reading spot. Developing this knowledge of the world, with its similarities and differences to what they experience every day, reinforces critical thinking skills, and will give them a boost as school textbooks become more content focused.

  1. Learn Complex Tasks

Nonfiction texts present the opportunity for children to read about different skills and real-life activities. Reading and following detailed instructions are the first parts of completing complex tasks. These activities can be super fun for kids as they build Lego sets or make cookies from scratch! Plus, learning how to complete complex tasks at an earlier age with help them tremendously as they get older.

  1. Build Vocabulary

Nonfiction materials can help expand kids’ vocabularies. Many nonfiction texts introduce kids to more difficult words, so it’s important to keep your dictionary handy!  New and more difficult words can also be accompanied by an image, and some nonfiction books have a glossary to help kids understand new definitions.

 

The Kids Read Now Wishlist always includes a wide variety of nonfiction books for kids to enjoy, such as National Geographic Kids and the Who Was/What Was series. Nonfiction books can help reluctant readers build a passion for learning about dinosaurs, the first airplane, the galaxy, or even about how to make homemade slime!


By Dr. Andrew Johnson | Categories Challenges | Choices | Critical Thinking | Curriculum | K-5 Literacy | Listening | Reading Instruction | November 19, 2021

Check out this webinar, Teaching Critical Thinking Skills – Using Thinking Skills in Reading, where Dr. Andrew Johnson examines how critical and creative thinking skills enhance learning.

By the end of the webinar, you will:

 

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By KRN Admin | Categories Choices | Engagement - Community | Events | K-5 Literacy | News | November 12, 2021

Kids Read Now started as a small, local nonprofit organization and has rapidly grown into an impressive leader in the fight against K-5 learning loss. Most students, particularly those from lower income families, experience steep reading skill loss over the summer break. Creating home libraries and engaging parents are key ways to accelerating summer learning and reversing the slide associated with summer break and extended school closures.

 

Since 2013, Kids Read Now has mailed over two million books-to-keep. This past summer KRN served nearly 100,000 K-5 students across the country. According to Kids Read Now CEO and co-founder, Leib Lurie, “Kids Read Now is on a trajectory to mail over 7 million books to K-5 students nationwide by 2024.”

 

This exciting growth has highlighted the need for a new, larger fulfillment center. More books to more kids equals higher literacy rates and dreams delivered for America’s youth.

 

Kids Read Now’s new fulfillment center is 21,000 square feet, 33% bigger than its previous space. “This new, expanded space will help us reach our goal of serving 1 million kids each summer,” says Jim McDonald, Kids Read Now’s Fulfillment Center Manager. “Having this large, flexible space and leveraging the talented local work force made this expansion decision easy,” adds Leib.

 

Proud to partner with hundreds of school districts nationwide, Kids Read Now is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with the singular mission to eliminate learning loss for K-5 students. Learn more about Kids Read Now at KidsReadNow.org.

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By Dr. Mechiel Rozas | Categories Book Deserts | Choices | Educators | Equity | K-5 Literacy | Reading | Reading Instruction | October 29, 2021

I recently caught up with a dear colleague. When I asked her what she saw as she worked closely with our teachers and teacher leaders, her immediate answer was “politics”.

 

The concept that everything is political started with Aristotle and is consistently restated today. Although I avoid them, I cannot deny that what I eat, what I wear, what I read (or don’t read) is a political act. Looking at the news or even local school board elections remind us how polarizing today’s environment is and how the inertia of our society calls for us to pick one side or the other. My desire for universality led me to wonder about concepts that are less political and valued by all. Literacy for everyone came to mind. The ability to read, write, think, listen, and speak are foundational skills people need to successfully live and participate in our lives and communities. The assertion that all children (and adults) have strong literacy skills is something we can all agree on. We call that a core belief.

 

Core beliefs can only be realized when our practices align with and support the initial conviction.  Donalyn Miller shares that time, access, and choice are bricks with which to build a solid foundation. I am an excellent cook. I am masterful because I have an interest in food and I have cooked every day for over 30 years. In contrast, I am unlikely to become a great tennis player if I only watch it on TV. Children must have time to read things they enjoy or are interested in each day. If you are telling yourself, “Of course! That’s a given!” I challenge you to ask any child age 4-19 to track how much they read each day and how much they enjoy what they read. The data may surprise you.

 

To read each day, you have to have access to text. Access means that you can easily get your hands on something to read. In the positive column, we have a ton of portable digital content via phones and iPads or laptops. A quick survey of your friends and family about where and how they read, demonstrate we all have preferences. I like to read digitally but if it is non-fiction, I will want a paper book I can mark up. Recent research tells us that children need access to both digital and print. As they age, children should drive which they use for their specific purposes. Time and access are bricks that build mastery, choice excites and accelerates literacy.

 

Imagine you walk into a bookstore where they scan your brain and then directed you to graduate-level books because that is the level you read at. No magazines, cookbooks, or mysteries! Choice is the third brick in that solid wall of practice we should all agree on. I was so fortunate as a child because I not only had access to books, I had parents who encouraged us to read about the things we were interested in which amplified the time I was allowed to read. Visiting areas in which literacy levels are at their lowest inside and outside of schools, you see that there is little access to books, there is no choice about what to read, and time is spent on drills and isolated practice of skills-effectively killing a love of reading. Time, access, and choice in the construction of literacy is a political act we can all support.


By Rachel Benedict | Categories Choices | Early Education | K-5 Literacy | Reading | Summer Reading | October 22, 2021

The Kids Read Now 2021 summer reading program was our best reading program to date! We mailed over 690,000 books to over 77,000 students all over the country. That’s pretty awesome, right? Here are the top 10 books requested this year.

 

#10 – Stone Fox

By: John Reynolds Gardiner

Illustrated by Marcia Sewell

Little Willie and his grandfather live on a farm. Grandfather owes back taxes, and becomes ill. Willie is determined to save the farm. Can Willie and his dog, Searchlight, do it?

 

#9 – Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt (A Narwhal and Jelly Book #2)

By: Ben Clanton

Illustrated by Ben Clanton

Narwhal and Jelly want to become superheroes. Find out what their super powers are.

 

#8 – Flying High

By: Nick Eliopulos

Illustrated by DC

Something strange is happening. The birds are going crazy! Who can help?

 

#7 – Big Shark, Little Shark

By: Anna Membrino

Illustrated by Tim Budgen

Are you afraid of sharks? No need to be afraid of these two! They will have you laughing! And smiling. And splashing about!

 

#6 – DK Readers: Amazing Dogs

By: Laura Buller

Meet the many types of dogs that use their super senses, strength, and friendship to help people!

 

#5 – The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto

By: Natalie Standiford

Illustrated by Donald Cook

The children of Nome, Alaska are very sick. They need medicine. Balto, and the sled dog team, are their only hope. But will they get there in time?

 

#4 – National Geographic Kids: Storms

By: Miriam Busch Goin

Thunder and lightning! Monsoons! Hurricanes! Tornadoes! The facts and photos in this book will blow you away!

 

#3 – National Geographic Kids: Dive Dolphin

By: Shira Evans

Dolphins live in oceans and rivers around the world. Learn more about these fantastic animals.

 

#2 – National Geographic Kids: Hop, Bunny!

By: Susan B. Neuman

What do bunnies do all day? Where do they go? What do they see? This book will tell you.

 

#1 – National Geographic Kids: Go, Cub!

By: Susan B. Neuman

Baby cubs like to cuddle and sleep. What do they learn to do? Read this and find out!