March 19, 2021

Michelle Torgerson, CEO,
Raising A Reader

Dear Raising A Reader Community,

The tragic mass killing of 8 people in Atlanta, which included six Asian American women, joins an unacceptable rise in hate crimes and attacks against the Asian and Asian American community. This year alone, there have been 503 reported incidents of hate related attacks and crimes against Asian American Pacific Islander community members between January 1 and February 28 according to Stop AAPI Hate’s compiled data. And these are just the reported incidents. To our AAPI families and colleagues, Raising A Reader is with you.  Not enough has been done to protect Asian Americans from heightened levels of discrimination and violence, this needs to change.

Here are actions that I am taking:

  • I am sharing a link to Stop AAPI Hate with ways that we can act now to protect our families and communities.
  • I will work with our team to identify resources that we can share with our network to support our families.
  • Over the next week, I will be reaching out to legislators in the Bay Area, where incidents have been particularly high, to find out what they are doing to support the victims and families and what they are doing to promote anti-racism in their districts.

In meantime, please practice selfcare and care for your family and loved ones. Please be in touch, I am here for you.

In loving kindness,


Michelle Torgerson
President and CEO

Network News


NAFSCE Effective Program Spotlight: Raising A Reader
When: Wednesday, March 24 | 12pm PT | 3pm ET

Our Affiliate partners will share how they’ve employed high-impact family and community partnership strategies to respond to the needs of local communities, innovate and expand their model when in-person contact was an impossibility, and strengthen their ability to directly support parents and caregivers. Attendees will learn how to apply lessons learned to their own family outreach and engagement efforts.

Register for the webinar here.

RAR Monthly Town Hall Meeting
When: Friday, March 26  | 11am PT | 2pm ET

We are excited to have special guest Pete  Weldy, Region  9 Regional Administration with the  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ACF and Christine Slaymaker,  RAR Coordinator,  Community Action Partnership of Sonoma  County Head  Start  (CA),  join our Town Hall Friday, March 26.  Pete will share the current status of early learning landscapes and an overview of the American Rescue Plan and how it impacts Head Start, Childcare, and other early childhood programs.  Christine, one of our Superstar Affiliate Coordinators,  will  contribute how she has used the Raising A Reader Classic  Model  and Super Summer  Book Bag  program as  a sustainable  solution for Head Start.  You don’t want to miss this webinar!    

Register  now  for the March 26  RAR Town Hall Meeting.

New Webinar Alert! Which RAR Program Offering Is Right For You?
When: Wednesday, April 14 | 11am PT | 2pm ET

Which RAR Program is Right for You? Join us on April 14 as we share our Classic Model, Family Shared Reading Program, and the new Shared Reading Summer Camp. Find out which program fits your organization or particular Implementation Sites. Bring your questions, find the answers.

Register for the webinar here.


FSRP Extension Pack – Family Learning Calendar First Look!
Get a first look at the Family Learning Calendar included in our Family Shared Reading Program Extension Pack, the new complement to the Family Shared Reading Program Starter Pack. It includes 12 weeks of family-centered learning activities that are easy to use and ready to go! The Family Learning Calendar is part of the new FSRP Extension Packs which is designed to expand on the Family Shared Reading Program Starter Pack by providing brand new books and resources for children and families to share and keep.

Sign up here to receive a first look at The Family Learning Calendar, or to find out more about Raising A Reader’s Family Shared Reading Program.

RAR LIVE: Radical Collaboration Series Continues  

RAR continues its new LIVE discussion format, the Radical Collaboration Series, with another 20-minute conversations with leaders critical to early learning hosted by our President and CEO, Michelle Torgerson. This month’s guest is Jennifer Blatz, President and CEO of Strive Together.  Follow us for dates and times on RAR social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube  and LinkedIn.   Watch the debut conversation from February 25 with Adeola Whitney, CEO of Reading Partners here.

Virtual Coordinator Training Begins April 12

Calling All Coordinators! The second cohort of our new Virtual Coordinator Training begins April 12 with 4-weeks of self-paced course work and weekly live sessions. Each week, participants will work independently to complete a 60-90 minute module prior to attending a 75-minute virtual live session each Thursday with RAR staff and the other participants. Watch this video for an overview of the training.

Per our train-the-trainer model, this training is focused on the Coordinator role and is not designed for Implementers of the program.  The training is specifically designed for program Coordinators from new Affiliates, Coordinators from established Affiliates who have recently taken on the Coordinator role, as well as any previously trained Coordinator who feels they would benefit from a refresher.

All live sessions for 2021 Virtual Coordinator Training take place on Thursdays during the 4-week training cycle: 12 pm PT | 1 pm MT | 2 pm CT | 3 pm ET.

Virtual Coordinator Training:  
April 12-May 6: Register here.
Registration closes Monday, April 12 at 5 pm PT.

See the side panel or visit our Events page on the Online Affiliate Network for future dates.

Course materials will be emailed to participants prior to training start date.

Promising Practices

Family Shared Reading Keeps the Reading Going!    

Kerry Bacho, the Early Literacy Manager at Parent Services Project (CA), recently distributed Family Shared Reading Program Starter Packs to preschool children that are unable to rotate their Red Book Bags and shares her experience:

“Our greatest struggle over these past few months has been getting books into families’ homes. We ceased the RAR book bag rotation for this school year, so about 75-100 less books were shared in the families’ homes. And even though the library reopened and was an option, the fear of this virus was a barrier to venturing to the library. However, with the help of grant funding, 300 families now have books in their home, and in their primary language! This helped me to rebuild our family engagement program to meet their literacy needs during the pandemic.”

To learn more about the Family Shared Reading Program, click  here. If you need help writing a grant or would like a quote to bring the Family Shared Reading Program to your site, please contact us at Let’s keep families reading!

Business Behind The Books

RAR Support for Sustainability

Raising A Reader loves supporting our Affiliates as they seek to expand and sustain their RAR programs, through both our Cassic model and Family Shared Reading Program. Sometimes, we’ll highlight local funding opportunities throughout our Bookmark to help our regions where there are several Affiliates, but today, we’re sharing two federal funding sources which could assist your programmatic work. If you have questions about using these federal funds, or need grant language, please connect with us at

Comprehensive Literacy State Development Grant
If your state received federal funding from the Comprehensive Literacy State Development Grant (for Affiliates in MA, MO, MI, TN, LA, AZ, CO, WY, TX, DC + FL) in FY 2020, Raising A Reader qualifies as an evidence-based organization. This funding can be used by both existing and new Affiliates to assist learners ages 0-2nd grade, ensuring those in high-need communities receive the highest level of instruction. Materials include activities designed to address gaps identified by local needs assessments through professional development work moderate evidence-based literacy strategies. If you are unaware of where your state is designating their grant funding, or would like to learn more, click here.

COVID-19 Relief Plan
The newly passed $1.9T COVID-19 Relief Plan, or “American Rescue Plan” has the potential to make drastic changes in providing critical resources to the families we serve. According to the Center on Poverty & Social Policy at Columbia University, the percentage of child poverty will drop from 15.1% to 5.7% – having a direct impact on the 80% of Raising A Reader students who live in poverty. Furthermore, the plan also includes $128 billion for state educational agencies to reopen safely, including funding to cover the additional costs districts must incur as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and necessary for reopening, including supporting the academic, social and emotional needs of students. There is also funding directed to the Child Care & Development Block Grant program to help support child care facilities, particularly in high-need areas. For a full breakdown of the American Rescue Plan, visit the full act here, or read this NPR article on what’s in the plan.

RAR Support for Affiliates
As the warmer weather approaches and your Raising A Reader program serves more students in person, we’re excited to support you in ensuring what you need to serve students and families. Listed below are a few resources, designated to enhance and uplift the literacy and learning goals in your community that you have access to as an Affiliate.

  • Questions about ordering or implementation? Connect with your Portfolio Manager who will be happy to set up a 1:1 call with you to share best practices, answer questions you have about ordering, or troubleshoot topics such as library connections or parent workshops.
  • Questions about how to rotate safely? On the RAR website, our COVID toolkit includes a flyer on disinfecting materials, grant template language, resource for families and a library of our recorded Town Halls with brief descriptions of each meeting.
  • Questions about how we’ve pivoted? RAR’s Family Shared Reading Program was created after listening to Affiliate needs in spring 2020. This unique offering is a fun way to support early literacy and school readiness through reading routines and meaningful home-school connections and includes materials for caregivers and educators.
  • Are you an RAR Coordinator who needs a refresher on implementing? Our newest virtual training will begin again on April 12,  and we’d love if you could join us then!

Is there a resource you’ve used in your own community that would help other Affiliates organize, save time or assist families and caregivers with home literacy routines? Share with us by emailing to be featured in our next Bookmark!

Research Roundup

Three Solutions to Encourage Girls in STEM

During Women’s History Month we recognize achievements made by women in various fields including STEM.   As educators, how can we encourage young girls to enter these fields often dominated by stereotypes and prejudices?   A few suggestions contained in this month’s article include:

  1. Foster a growth mindset in students by emphasizing that practice rather than innate ability improves performance.
  2. Encourage mathematical interest in girls through after-school STEM programs
  3. Move away from multiple-choice tests—often a staple in math and science—and place more emphasis on open-ended assessments that allow students, especially girls, to demonstrate their proficiency through word problems or writing, where they feel more confident.

Read the entire article here  from Edutopia.

From the RAR Bookshelf

For March, our choice from the RAR Bookshelf is Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist.

“Eugenie Clark fell in love with sharks from the first moment she saw them at the aquarium. She couldn’t imagine anything more exciting than studying these graceful creatures. After earning several college degrees and making countless discoveries, Eugenie wrote herself into the history of science, earning the nickname “Shark Lady.”  This is an inspiring story by critically acclaimed zoologist Jess Keating about finding the strength to discover truths that others aren’t daring enough to see. Includes a timeline of Eugenie’s life and many fin-tastic shark facts!”   – New York Times (NYT)

NYT calls it, “The perfect choice for parents looking for:

  • Books about sharks
  • Inspiring nonfiction narrative books
  • Role model books for girls and boys
  • Kids STEM books”

“This is an inspirational story of a woman who challenged perceptions at a time when few women were encouraged to enter the profession… a great selection for women’s history month or for units on ocean life.” – School Library Connection

Shark Lady is beautifully illustrated by Marta Álvarez Miguéns and was awarded Best Book of the Month by Amazon and named Best Nonfiction Children’s Book of 2017 by Parents magazine.

RAR Webinars

Coordinator Training Now Virtual
Registration Now Open for

Town Halls Now Monthly
Register here for March 26.

Watch our recent videos:
Family Shared Reading Webinar
FSRP Family Learning Circle App

Partner Resources: PD and E-Learning

Campaign  for Grade Level Reading Learning Tuesdays Register here |   3 PM ET
National Family Support Network Webinar Wednesdays Register here | 2:30 PM ET