August 12, 2020

Dear  Raising  A Reader Family,

I joined  the Raising A Reader National team just over five weeks ago. In those five weeks, I have heard countless stories of how each of you are  rising up  to meet the needs of the children and families  you serve. From learning how to use Zoom to conduct your first virtual  home visit  to  brokering partnerships with your local library and food distribution centers to distribute  Raising A Reader Super Summer Book Bags  and other resources to your families during these  challenging times, you are all in on riding the wave of urgency  to adapt and respond quickly so your families are supported. I am in awe  and inspired.

Raising A Reader  sees ourselves as your partner  in all of this. We are exploring how we, too, can adapt and respond quickly in hopes that we can provide you additional tools and resources to make it easier for you to continue your amazing support of children and families  in your communities across the country.  Thank you for your input, advice and recommendations  all along the way.

We know the last five months have not been easy. In addition to being community servants, we recognize and acknowledge that we are also all experiencing these times within the context of our own families. Whether it is the worry about an elderly parent’s health, the potential loss of a partner’s income, or the struggle of working from home while also being our child’s teacher’s aide, cafeteria chef and playmate, we are stretched and overwhelmed. We are dedicating this month’s Promising Practices to one of self-care.

As summer winds down and the start of school brings additional pressures, we hope that you will take a moment to pause, take a breath and feel the gratitude we have for each of you.

In partnership,  

Michelle H

Michelle Sioson Hyman
Senior Vice President, Program and Partnerships

Network News

Going Back Plans

This year, the “Back-to-School” season has taken on a whole new meaning. Programs and schools across the country are preparing for meaningful education experiences whether they are in-person, virtual, distance learning or a hybrid of all. Whatever learning experience your program or school provides for children and families, there is a Raising A Reader option to support your family engagement and early literacy needs. The Online Affiliate Network provides a “Going Back Toolkit” to help you navigate this uncharted territory, including program options and resources. We’d also LOVE to hear about your going back plans for this year. Help us understand your needs by completing this brief survey.

Replenishment Materials

0-2 Spanish Foundation
Replacement Set

Replenishment materials are here!   We know that many Red Book Bags were left in homes to be read and loved during the weeks and months following the closure of programs due to COVID 19. Many of these materials may have been lost or damaged upon return and need to be replaced. Raising A Reader is offering special Foundation Sets and Supplemental Building Blocks at deeply discounted rates to help support the replenishment of lost or damaged materials! For a limited time, these materials are available in both English and Bilingual Foundation and Supplemental Building Blocks for ages 0-2, 3-PreK and School Age. Click here to see the sets! *If you experienced a loss of over 50% of our materials, please contact us at

Coordinator Training  

Opportunities for reinvention are a sign of the times. Distance learning is being implemented in our schools and will soon be the platform for the RAR 2-day Coordinator training. Through a combination of online, self-paced modules and weekly live discussion sessions, we will offer all the content and networking opportunities of our in-person version over a 4-week period. This is perfect for new Affiliates, or for new Coordinators who are new to the role. Our first cohort will start this fall. Look for registration information coming soon.  

Promising Practices

Self-Care Tips During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As educators, we focus a lot of energy on making sure students and families are getting what they need to be successful. During the COVID-19 pandemic our efforts have increased exponentially  as we devise new curriculum, learn about new digital platforms, and stretch our roles in ways we had never imagined. This can be draining and unsustainable unless we carve out time for self-care. This month, we bring you some tips from the Mayo Clinic on how to take care of YOU, so you can be your best self for those you serve.

Read the entire post by  Sarah Reichert  is a clinical social worker for Mayo Clinic Health System.

Business Behind The Books

NEW! Plastic Bags for Book Rotation

Plastic Bags are now available to order on the shop site to assist with book rotations. The Bags measure 13 x 18” and can be used along with or in place of the Red Book Bag to rotate books. They include a White Block Area that can be written on in marker, ballpoint pen or pencil to identify the book titles or bag number. They are sold in sets of 10 and can be found under Miscellaneous Materials on the shop site.

Research Roundup


At our  July 31  Virtual Town Hall, we shared remote learning resources helpful to educators and parents alike. The request   heard more and more frequently  is  â€œKeep it simple, please!” Parents are overwhelmed, especially parents of preschool children. The task they face is daunting and unprecedented.  The good news, as stated in this article, is that parents can use  their  3-5 year  old’s natural curiosity and eagerness about the world around them to  keep them engaged in a meaningful way.  Here are just a few ways to integrate literacy into children’s daily activities  discussed in the post:  

  • Let children play “real life.”  If you are working from home, consider setting out materials for your child to play “work” alongside you. Provide any supplies you have on hand, such as a notepad, clipboard, sticky notes, an old cell phone that no longer works,  etc., your  child will be developing fine motor and prewriting skills!
  • Include your child in your daily chores and tasks. For example, show your child how to find the O for the dryer’s “on” button  or  how to match socks to find the same size or pattern.
  • Read, read, read. Read all the things, as much as you can. Your child probably will not point to the exact words while saying them but tracking print from left to right is an important foundational literacy concept to learn at this age!  

At Raising A Reader, we believe that sharing books together at home impacts literacy development for a lifetime and sparks learning opportunities in other areas such as STEM, Art, and SEL.  To give you an idea  of activities you can share, download our Super Summer Family Activity Guide Sneak Peek.  These are just a few of the activities from our Super Summer Book Bags that incorporate household materials in the learning process. Although targeted for rising Kindergarten and 1st  Graders, they can be adapted to other age groups.          

Read the  full post  from  the Institute of Education Sciences  Regional Educational Laboratory Program  website  written by  Megan  Hillegass, a blended prekindergarten teacher, and watch her in REL  Midwest’s  new video on  integrating play into literacy instruction.  But above all, keep it simple, superstars!

Arroro, Mi Nino/Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games written and illustrated by Lulu Delacre is a delightful collection of folk songs, rhymes, lullabies and games familiar to Latino families in many countries with the goal of enticing little ones to love language as they bond with their caregivers.

Arrorro has been called a gift to mothers everywhere because it includes all of the best known lullabies from many Latin cultures. As a picture book, its joyful depictions of mothers and infants is winning. As an ode to authentic Latin lullabies and finger games, it is a treasure that parents get to share and pass on.

Arroro, Mi Nino can be found in our PreK and 0-8 Spanish Foundation Sets  and as part of our Super Summer Read Aloud series which highlights Raising A Reader titles read by the author in both English and Spanish.  With this read aloud you also get a performance by Lulu!  

Super Summer
Town Hall

Super Summer Town Hall meetings will continue every Friday throughout August. Please join us each week to learn, share and connect. Click here to register.

Partner Resources: PD and E-Learning

Campaign for
Grade Level Reading

Learning Tuesdays
August 18:  Closing the Gap: Addressing Learning Loss During COVID-19
Register here. | 3pm ET

Featured Resources

“Going Back” Resources
(OAN Access Required)

RAR’s Super Summer Continues!
Super Summer Webpage
Super Summer Read Alouds
Super Summer Book Bags
Supplies Limited!
SSBB Family Activity Guide
Sneak Peek

Cleaning and Disinfecting
RAR Materials

Wide Open School
by Common Sense Media

Relaunching August 17 for SY20-21 with New Content and Features for Students, Parents and Educators