July 15, 2020

Dear  Raising  A Reader Family,

I hope that the July Bookmark finds you and your community safe and in harmony. Raising A Reader continues to pivot and modify the program to best support families and our partners, and I look forward to you learning more in the July Bookmark. It has been great to hear from so many of you at our weekly virtual Town Halls. I continue to be in awe of your ingenuity. You are indeed the fearless leaders our communities need at this critical moment in our country’s history.

In early 2020 we launched a national search for a Sr. Vice President of Programs and Partnerships. It was a competitive search, despite a global pandemic, and I am thrilled that we are able to welcome an incredible and accomplished leader. I am eager to introduce you to the newest member of the Raising A Reader team, Sr. Vice President of Programs and Partnerships, Michelle Sioson Hyman!

In her role, Michelle is responsible for overseeing program development, growth and impact. Michelle has had a long-standing commitment to child development, both professionally and personally. She has worked within the philanthropic sector and across the public systems that are in place to support the education, health and well-being of young children as Deputy Director, Center for Early Learning at Silicon Valley Community Foundation and program officer for First 5 San Mateo and First 5 Santa Cruz Counties. Michelle has also worked directly alongside children and families as an AmeriCorps member, GirlVentures mentor and birth support doula which has fueled her passion to ensure that family is at the center of both program and public policy decisions. Michelle is no stranger to Raising A Reader, she was a program manager on the national team 14 years ago and in her most recent capacity, as the Deputy Director of the Center for Early Learning, oversaw the San Mateo county-wide Raising A Reader affiliate.

Michelle earned her bachelor’s degree in English and anthropology from Case Western Reserve University and her master’s in public health from Yale University. Michelle’s first job in high school was at a children’s bookstore where she spent hours reading picture books, so it is impossible to identify just one favorite, but a favorite book she shares with her two children is Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems.

Please join me in welcoming, Michelle!

In partnership,

Michelle T.

Michelle Torgerson
President and CEO

Network News

Reduced-price Replacement materials!    
The sudden closure of schools means that many of your RAR Red Book Bags are still being enjoyed by families. Some may be returned, but many Affiliates will start the new school year with a shortage of books and bags. RAR National is sensitive to budget constraints and has created  reduced-priced book collections  to replenish your lost materials. For a limited time, we are offering specially created Foundation Sets and Supplemental Building Blocks in every age category. Sets will include books and  Red Book Bags, but no  Blue  Library Bags, DVDs, or manuals. To see pricing and a complete list of  offerings, visit  our  shop site.  Let’s  help families  reestablish book sharing routines that may have been interrupted during the shutdown.      

Raising A Reader’s Super Summer
Despite the COVID shutdowns, Raising A Reader was determined to make it a Super Summer where learning never stops! In our effort to fight COVID/Summer slide, we introduced our Super Summer Book Bags filled with 6 weeks of rich learning activities. Because of a Super response, we’ve extended the sale of our Super Summer Book Bags until this Friday, July 17. Now’s the time to visit our shop site and get yours today!

We’re also continuing our Super Summer Read Alouds (see “From the RAR Bookshelf” below) with RAR books read by authors in Spanish and English. Check it out on our YouTube page.

You can find both the Super Summer Book Bags and the Super Summer Read Alouds on our new Super Summer webpage. This page has valuable and timely resources for educators and families alike from our Affiliate Network and partner organizations. Share it with your team and community!

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

Countdown  To  Kindergarten and Raising A Reader
Countdown  To  Kindergarten is a program designed for an easier transition to kindergarten. Besides helping with the “summer slide,” this program helps parents to gain a better understanding of kindergarten expectations and to work more effectively with their children in at-home activities to improve academic skills. It also helps both children and parents feel confident and excited about kindergarten.

Countdown  To  Kindergarten (CTK) has 6 sessions. Five sessions are implemented with the CTK teacher and the final visit is a tour of the child’s new school and classroom.  Along with the weekly lessons, students are encouraged to read a story daily, visit the local library, and obtain a library card. Doesn’t that sound like a Raising A Reader (RAR) objective, to have a library connection? Often parents  aren’t able to  visit the library to get books. With RAR, the books can come to them!

At Kershaw County First Steps, we incorporate CTK and RAR. A new Red Book Bag is rotated each session. Bags and books are sanitized between each rotation.  Parents are also encouraged to visit the library’s website and Facebook page for virtual story hours and a schedule of the library’s summer events and activities. New this summer is  First Friday With First Steps Storytime, a virtual  storytime  using RAR books including parenting tips and modeling that would normally be done during in-person parent workshops. These videos are done by our Early Childhood and RAR Coordinator, Patrice Davis.  

Business Behind The Books

Read Aloud DVDs Now A la Carte Only
Effective today, July 15, 2020, Foundation Sets and Supplemental Sets will no longer include the  Read Aloud Share A Book with Me DVD  and will be offered at a reduced cost. This change is being made in light of the rise in digital media, as less households have DVD players and most new laptops no longer offer a DVD drive. The DVDs are not going away; they can still be purchased separately and the video is available on our YouTube channel in all 15 languages.

Thinking Ahead for Funding
If your site or community is not serving students at this time, and you’d like to explore expanding or sustaining your program through grants, our team would love to assist. Contact us to learn more about the resources we offer and how we can help forward your community’s literacy objectives through RAR.

Research Roundup

Connecting the Brain to the Rest of the Body: Early Childhood Development and Lifelong Health Are Deeply Intertwined

The environments we create and the experiences we provide for young children and their families affect not just the developing brain, but also other physiological systems.

This new Working Paper, the fifteenth in the series from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, informs policymakers, leaders of human services systems, intervention developers, and practitioners in reducing disparities in preventable diseases and premature deaths and lowering the high costs of health care for chronic illnesses that have their origins in early childhood adversity. The paper examines how developing biological systems in the body interact with each other and adapt to the contexts in which a child is developing—for better or for worse—with lifelong consequences for physical and mental health.

Read the paper

Download printer friendly version

National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (2020). Connecting the Brain to the Rest of the Body: Early Childhood Development and Lifelong Health Are Deeply Intertwined Working Paper No. 15. Retrieved from www.developingchild.harvard.edu.

Our title this month is Maya’s Blanket/La manta de Maya written by Monica Brown and illustrated by David Diaz.

Maya’s Blanket shares the many incarnations of a blanket made by Maya’s grandmother and how it, and her abuelita, made her life so special. It proves that nothing, and no one, is really gone if they live on in your memories. Maya wrote down the story of how her blanket changed over the years and later shared it in a book with her own daughter! Maya’s Blanket/La manta de Maya brings to life the celebration of creativity, recycling, and enduring family love.

Monica Brown shares Maya’s Blanket as part of our Super Summer Read Aloud series which highlights Raising A Reader titles read by the author in both English and Spanish.

You can find Maya’s Blanket/La manta de Maya in our Kinder Spanish Foundation Set. Watch the Super Summer Read Aloud Series on RAR’s YouTube page.

Super Summer
Town Hall

Super Summer Town Hall meetings will continue to be held on Fridays throughout the summer. Please join us each week to learn, share and connect. Click here to register.

Partner Resources: PD and E-Learning

Trauma-informed Practices in MD and PA with the Collaborative Action for Family Engagement Center and Dr. Seth Shaffer. (3rd in a Series)
Registrants are encouraged to watch this 15-minute TED talk and read this short summary of the ACEs study for background on the science behind trauma.
July 22: 12:00 PM PT/3:00 PM ET
Register here.

Cox Campus

Summer Continuing Education for Educators
Summer Learning & Schoool Readiness for Families (in English and Spanish)

Campaign for
Grade Level Reading

#GLRWeek  2020 Has Gone Virtual! Please join us for a week-long series of events all geared toward ensuring early school success; mobilizing efforts to slow, stop, & reverse learning loss & embracing parents as essential partners.
#GLReading  – Register here.

GLR: Learning Tuesdays

July 21: Meeting Families Where They Are: Leveraging Spaces to Advance Early Learning and Literacy
July 28:  Relationships Matter: Partnering With Families to Support Early Relational Health
Register here. | 3pm ET

Featured Resources