December 16, 2020

Hello, Raising A Reader Family!

I hope that our December Bookmark finds you in good health and harmony. As we close out the year, while it did not go as planned, there have been several bright spots for Raising A Reader. Most notably the wonderful, flourishing relationships that we have been able to develop with you, our treasured network of partners.

From our weekly Town Halls, to one on one calls, or our quick chats over email or text, we have loved the opportunity to get to know you and your communities this year. Your insights made our organization stronger and helped us innovate. Your resiliency and heroic efforts to serve families have served to motivate and inspire us to keep going during a time of great uncertainty. Our many thanks go to YOU this holiday season. We are grateful that you are part of the Raising A Reader family. There isn’t anyone that we’d rather do this work alongside, in service to children and their families.

Happy Holidays to you and your families. We hope that the new year brings peace and good health.

With loving kindness,

Michelle T and the Raising A Reader team

Network News

Virtual New Coordinator Training Coming January 2021!  

Raising A Reader is excited to bring a virtual Coordinator training in early 2021. The training is specifically designed for program Coordinators and is appropriate for Coordinators from new Affiliates, Coordinators from established Affiliates who have recently taken on the Coordinator responsibilities, as well as any previously trained Coordinator who feels that he/she would benefit from a refresher. Since this training is virtual, it will take place over the course of 4 weeks. Each week, participants will view a 60-90 minute module, on their own, prior to attending a 60-minute live session with RAR staff and the other participants. Dates and times for live sessions are as follows:

Dates:   January 28, February 4, 11, and 18
Times:   12 pm Pacific | 3 pm Eastern

Register here for RAR’s Virtual Coordinator Training

Affiliate Check-In Calls!  

It’s that time of year again! RAR portfolio managers are reaching out to all Affiliates to schedule a check in call or zoom meeting. The purpose of these calls are to get an understanding of the priorities and program implementation plans from our partners. As a ‘thank you’ for participating in this call, RAR will provide you with a $100 credit to use between now and March 31.  

Affiliate Check-In Survey

It’s also time for the Annual Affiliate Check-In Survey. Shorter, and easier to complete this year, the information you are asked to supply is in conjunction with our Check-In calls, so please watch your emails for instructions to complete the survey. As with our Check-In calls, the early bird gets the worm!

Promising Practices

RAR MA, Virtual Solutions for Real-Life Literacy Engagement

We understand that many Affiliates have had to pivot to virtual implementation due to unprecedented circumstances and that engaging families through virtual channels can be challenging. The virtual parent engagement workshop series prepared by Raising A Reader Massachusetts (RAR MA) for RAR National and the Affiliate Network offers a solution. We are happy to share with you several resources presented by RAR MA to enhance your family engagement in a virtual environment.

Virtual Parent Engagement Workshop series  â€“ This series includes an Implementer Guide and 3 interactive workshop presentations along with agendas in English and Spanish. (Access to the Online Affiliate Network is required.)

To give you an overview of the Virtual Parent Engagement series, RAR MA gave two presentations at our Town Hall meetings. Please click the links to view Part 1 and Part 2 from October 9 and November 13.

Other resources provided by RAR MA include the  Family Literacy Calendars. These Calendars in English, Spanish, and Mandarin provide families with easy to follow tips and daily activities. RAR MA’s Literacy Calendars are an excellent way to create a literacy-rich environment at home.

Business Behind The Books

RAR: More than Core

To date, over 7,000 caregivers and their children have received our Family Shared Reading Program Fall Family Packs! These kits contain bilingual books, our Family Guide containing 12 weeks of shared reading prompts and activities, downloadable activities and access to online resources. We’ve heard incredible feedback about this offering, including how it provides support and resources to underserved families, those in rural communities, and those who may be isolated in other ways, such as English Language Learners and their families. Through the Implementer Kits and Classroom Packs, educators can enhance home-school connections and support literacy routines. Our Family Shared Reading Program integrates seamlessly with Kindergarten and Third-grade reading readiness initiatives. For more information, see the RAR Shop Site.    

Dates to Note  

  • RAR’s warehouse will be closed for inventory from December 31  until January 8. Shipments will resume on January 11.
  • Have you received a $100 credit for completing an end-of-year survey with your portfolio manager? Don’t forget to spend down these funds by March 31, 2021! RAR’s Spring Edition of the Family Shared Reading Program will be available by early next quarter and would be a perfect way to spend down this credit!  Contact us at for assistance with ordering your RAR materials.

Research Roundup

How Can Local Parents and Teachers Be Meaningfully Engaged
During Times of Crisis?

A Joint Project by the American Federation of Teachers and the National Parent Teacher Association    

Although many studies have examined the experiences, perspectives and impacts of the current COVID-19 pandemic  on parents or teachers, few studies have sought to identify how both families and educators are—and aspire to be—engaged during times of crisis.  This report  provides guidance to improve family and teacher engagement in times of crisis in your respective communities.  

While the report explores pitfalls  communities experienced, especially at the beginning of the pandemic, it  also exhibits ways they have been  keeping  the lines of communication open, such as:  

  • Using familiar technology  such as YouTube, WhatsApp, etc., to reach families.  
  • Providing a  â€œSocial Distancing”  Demonstration  site for communities to tour and offer feedback.  
  • Forming  parent engagement  groups  to  create networks and  serve as two-way communication pathways.    

It also gives hope for the future with strategies to bring together local stakeholders now in order to be prepared before a crisis hits including a Step-by-Step Process and Discussion Guide for focus groups, sample invitations and agendas in English and Spanish, and resources for improving community engagement.    

Raising A Reader is invested in facilitating family engagement. We invite you to use the Online Affiliate Network Resources on our website to share ideas and samples of parent, student and community engagement. Detailed workshop agendas and resources for family engagement workshops can be found in our Going Back Plan Toolkit (Access is required. Contact us at

From the RAR Bookshelf

Something Special for Me, by author/illustrator Vera B. Williams, is the sequel to A Chair For My Mother. Reviewers have praised the books for being really thoughtful, showing how families work together and care for one another. School Library Journal calls it “A sensitive depiction of a warm and loving family … A visual and emotional treat.” This title teaches children the importance of delayed gratification and the results of making good decisions. We watch Rosa’s excitement rise and fall each time she thinks she has found the perfect gift. You can watch her journey  here  in a read aloud by Emily Morton.

Something Special for Me is part of our Financial Literacy Special Collection and is appropriate for ages 4-8.

Learn more about resources that teach good financial habits for children in a special presentation featuring Excite Credit Union from our December 4 Town Hall meeting.

Welcome New Affiliate!

Louisiana State University – Early Education Campus
Baton Rouge, LA
Their mission is to provide a nurturing environment that promotes a life-long love of learning.

Partner Resources: PD and E-Learning

Campaign  for Grade Level Reading Learning Tuesdays Register here |   3 PM ET

Featured Resources

“Going Back” Resources
(OAN Access Required)

Fabulous Fall Packs
Now Available to Order!

Family Resources Page
from RAR MA

What Happens Next? (Record Your Own Story Endings)
from WLOY, Loyola University

Cleaning and Disinfecting
RAR Materials

RAR’s Inventory Tracking Sheet and Materials Inventory Spreadsheet