May 12, 2021

Dear Raising A Reader Network,

From Spring cleaning to planting seeds in the garden, this time of year is generally a time we think of fresh starts and hopeful beginnings. At Raising A Reader, with more and more communities across the country reopening  and children  returning to in-person school, these feelings of hope are continuing to blossom and are the foundation upon which we are focusing our efforts to support children and families this summer. We know that children, families,  schools  and communities learned so much this past year of how to support children’s learning at home. Many families and teachers worked together more closely than ever before.

Families have not only stepped up but rose to the challenge of being a true partner in their child’s learning. At Raising A Reader we are committed to fostering this tremendous learning and growth that occurred in the home by creating new partnerships and new programming. Data from a recent National PTA and Learning Heroes survey, shows that a majority of parents and caregivers are very likely to extremely likely to utilize summer learning resources that are sent home. With input from our community and informed by evidence, we developed Super Summer Learning Adventures, for children birth to age 8. Read on to hear more about the program!


Michelle Sioson Hyman
Senior Vice President, Program and Partnerships

Network News

Super Summer Learning Adventures:  Meet Our Partners
Raising A Reader is  excited to introduce our Super Summer Learning Adventures program! This program develops and reinforces early learning skills through easy-to-use tools and resources that support learning recovery and school readiness through meaningful family experiences.    

At Raising  A Reader, we believe in collaborating radically to provide impactful resources and programming, and have teamed up with mission-aligned organizations to bring you our Super Summer Learning Adventures program. Let’s take a closer look at our Super Summer partners:  

  • Guardians Collective is on a mission to make parenting less isolating and more collaborative.      
  • Highlights is a global media brand dedicated to helping children become curious,  creative, caring and confident.    
  • ParentCorps’ mission is to transform the pre-K experience in historically disinvested neighborhoods by helping  schools  partner with  families  to build a future where all children thrive.    
  • Read with Malcolm (Share the Magic Foundation), founded by Super Bowl Champion Malcolm Mitchell, is dedicated to promoting the benefits of  reading  and book ownership, especially  among striving and below grade-level readers who are at risk of academic failure.    
  • Worldreader works globally with partners to support vulnerable and underserved communities with digital reading solutions that help improve learning outcomes, workforce readiness, and gender equity.      

To learn more about RAR’s Super Summer Learning Adventures Program and partners, register here for our overview webinar on May 13.


Super Summer Learning Adventures Webinar
Summer’s almost here, but families are concerned about school readiness in the fall. Learn how Super Summer Learning Adventures can impact a child’s preparation for fall in a fun and engaging way. Join us on Thursday, May 13 at 12pm PT/3pm ET, for a deep-dive into our program for summer learning recovery and school readiness for children Prek-2nd grade. This webinar will discuss:  

  • Research behind and a preview of the 40+ activities included  
  • Alignment to Common Core Standards  
  • Overview of the materials included  
  • Partners that contributed to the program  
  • And more!  

To register for the Super Summer Learning Adventures webinar, click here. To submit questions to our Programs & Partnerships team, email us at   We can’t wait to see you at the webinar!    


May Town Hall:
What is in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and What It Means for You!
May 21 | 11am PT | 2pm ET  

Picture Credit: School Library Journal

During this Town Hall, we’ll be joined by  The Education Trust, Hana Ma, Senior Policy Analyst and Senior P-12 Research  Associate, Carrie  Gillispie to discuss an overview of the American Rescue Plan and an update on American Families Plan. Also, an RAR Affiliate will share how they’ve  used stimulus funding. This webinar will be a great opportunity for you to ask questions and gain perspective on what to expect from The American Rescue Plan.        

Take a look at Carrie  Gillispie’s  blog post:  With the American Families Plan, the U.S Stands on the Precipice of Universal Pre-K.    

 Register for the May 21 Town Hall  here.  


RAR LIVE! Radical Collaboration

Our guest for May will be Dr. Kayla de la Haye, public health professor at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (Los Angeles). We’ll be talking about how COVID has impacted food insecurity and the repercussions that impact mental health and learning.

Want to know why you should tune in? Take a look at the powerful conversation with Malcolm Mitchell, founder and Executive Director of Share the Magic Foundation  during our  April 28 RAR Live.

Follow us on social media for updates and links to stream: Facebook,  Twitter,  Instagram, Linkedin  and  YouTube. Also, look for Malcolm’s book My Favorite Book in the Whole Wide World in our Family Shared Reading Program Fall Extension Pack in a new bilingual edition just for Raising A Reader!

Promising Practices

Library Connection Events
Spring flowers signal  the start of Blue  Library  Bag season!    Even if you  haven’t been able to rotate Red Book Bags this year, it’s important to connect families to the library.  Your local library will most likely have activities that will help engage kids in literacy activities and help mitigate  summer  learning loss. Distributing Blue Library Bags with a library card application and a list of summer  learning options can give families the tools to keep  kids reading and school-ready in the fall. Missed the April Town Hall that discussed Library Connections? Click here to view the recording.    

Mono County Library pop-up party

Here are two great examples of Library Connections from RAR veteran Affiliates: Mono County Library (CA) is hosting pop-up parking lot parties  with socially distanced activity stations  to distribute  Blue Library Bags  and  energize young readers.    Instead of hosting in-person visits,  Craven Smart Start (NC) created a video tour of the library and invited families to come visit  over the summer.   How will you connect your families to the library?    


Affiliate Testimonial on How to Have a Super Summer with Raising A Reader
Michelle  Burhorn, Solano County Office of Education Shares Her Experience  

The Solano County Office of Education, with generous funding from First 5 Solano County (CA), has been implementing Raising A Reader for 3 years serving close to 1,000 children in early learning programs including family child care homes. In March of 2020, COVID became the reality and early learning and care programs shut their doors. When program staff realized that RAR implementation would also come to stop, we posed the question of how can we continue Raising A Reader and how can we continue to engage the families and children in a meaningful way.

Low and behold, the Raising A Reader Super Summer Book Bags were introduced, and our staff knew right away that this could fill the loss of the Red Book Bag rotation and provide families and children the ability to continue to maintain their home literacy routines. In July, 500 Super Summer Book Bags were delivered to our Implementers for distribution to families and children to find again their love of book sharing and participating in activities outlined in the kit. We are so grateful to the RAR National Team for their dedication and innovation to pivot so quickly for our community with the super engaging book bags! Learn more about Raising A Reader’s Super Summer Learning Adventures program here!

Business Behind The Books

Did You Know?
May is Mental Health Awareness month. Raising A Reader is here to support you and your community. We have several offerings to support conversations highlighting how caregivers and educators can adapt to life after the pandemic, acknowledge and learn from emotions, and take time to process changes, while contributing to health and wellbeing of others.    

  • Our Social Emotional Book Only collection, which contains 10 books and a downloadable guide for $200, is the perfect way to add books into your Classic Model rotation for students of all ages to help with skills needed for success. This collection, and the supplemental resources, help establish and maintain conversations on empathy, positive relationships, managing emotions, problem solving, and more.

    Ready Freddy, RAR’s Summer SEL Mascot

  • As an optional add-on to our  Super Summer Learning Adventures  offering, we have a social-emotional pack ready for purchase, which contains a family guide to support social emotional development in children, and a cozy stuffed RAR animal companion. These add-ons are $10 each and have been popular with our Affiliates looking to provide additional resources to caregivers over the summer.
  • Our  Online Affiliate Network  has several resources for Implementers and Coordinators, including resources on fostering strong and healthy brain development, the importance of family engagement, and more!  

Contact us  here, if you have any questions about these offerings or would like ideas on how to incorporate social emotional learning in your RAR setting.    


Updated Plastic Bags  

As an alternative to exclusively rotating Raising A Reader’s Red Book Bags, we have updated our Plastic Bags which can be used with, or in place of our Red Book Bags. We find that our Affiliates  who  are in communities with a continued spread of the COVID-19 virus use this as an extra level of protection for the families in their community. 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, and  are $15 for a set of 10. To order, click  here  to be connected to a member of our sales team, or visit our ordering site,  here.    


American Rescue Plan Act

All materials for our Classic Model, Family Shared Reading Program, or Super Summer Learning Adventures may qualify for American Rescue Plan Act funding. We encourage you to connect with your district or agency to learn how much funding you will receive to combat learning loss or other student needs, and check out our RAR Funding Guide for additional resources on the ARPA and use our COVID Affiliate Grant Language Template to assist with your applications.  

Research Roundup

PTA and Learning Heroes Surveys Parents in the Pandemic

Research from the National PTA and Learning Heroes exploring parents’ perspectives on their children’s education this school year.   A Year into the Pandemic: Parents’ Perspectives on Academics, State Assessments, and Education  reports:

  • Parents question their child’s academic achievement and preparedness for the next grade.
  • Only a slim majority of parents believe their children are well-prepared for the next grade.

The report emphasizes parents’ anxiety (especially parents of children of color) over their perceived confidence in their child’s preparedness while struggling with their child being held accountable in high stakes testing. Their response, 76% of parents want resources they can use at home to review concepts and reinforce skills. On page 23 of the presentation, we find that 70% of Black parents and 73% of Hispanic parents prefer free resources they can use at home to help their child(ren) continue or review learning over the summer rather than in-person instruction.

These points echo what RAR heard in discussions with our Affiliates throughout the pandemic which led us to create an innovative program for families called Super Summer Learning Adventures. These kits give parents easy-to-use tools that impact children’s school readiness and recovery of necessary skills in language and math using creative family activities. Take a sneak peek of the bilingual Family Guide and contact us at for more information.

Download the entire presentation here.

From the RAR Bookshelf

Because May is also Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we highlight one of our favorite books that reminds us of the power of being ourselves and embracing our uniqueness. In The Name Jar, writer and illustrator, Yangsook Choi, created a beautiful story in words and pictures where the main character, Unhei (pronounced Yoon-Hey), chooses to embrace her uniqueness with the help of some of her classmates. When asked in an interview what she wants children to learn from the story, the author replied, “through Unhei’s experience it would be wonderful if The Name Jar could suggest a positive approach for children who live in a multicultural world.”

We found two read alouds for you:

  • Read Aloud Adventure includes a link to a printable worksheet.
  • MrsOregliaReads includes her modelling aspects of dialogic reading strategies that can be adapted for younger audiences.

You can find The Name Jar in RAR’s Grade 1 English Foundation Set.

Welcome New Affiliate!

Welcome to Madison County Smart Start in Mars Hill, NC. Part of their vision is to increase the awareness of the importance of early childhood development to ensure that all children benefit from credible early-childhood education.

RAR Webinars

Super Summer
Learning Adventures
Overview Webinar
May 13 Register here

Coordinator Training Now Virtual
Registration Now Open for

Town Halls Now Monthly
Register here for May 21.

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