September 16, 2020

Greetings Raising A Reader Family,

I hope the September Bookmark finds you in good health and your community in harmony. I continue to be amazed by the innovative ways in which our national community of early childhood development leaders are innovating to support children in light of an atypical Fall, you’ll learn more about how laundromats are serving as a terrific conduit to families.  Our own Fabulous Fall Family Packs are featured in the Bookmark, along with a wide range of  additional resources to help to support your hybrid and distance fall engagement with families. I know how deeply many of us are missing seeing the smiling faces of our Raising A Reader families in person, and those shared moments of joy. Nothing can replace the feeling of those little arms extended to receive their bookbag! This is a year we won’t forget, but we will get through this, together. Sending you all a warm virtual hug.

Kindest regards,


Michelle Torgerson
President and CEO

Network News

Fabulous Fall Packs Are Here!

The Fabulous Fall Family packs are an innovative way to support family literacy habits, foster the connection with your families and empower Implementers and teachers to connect virtually with families and the community.   Resources for both families and Implementers/teachers include:  

Family Packs:    

  • Six bilingual children’s books  
  • Response Journal    
  • Bilingual Shared Reading Family Guide  
  • Fabulous Fall website at  that shares  
  • Downloadable activities for each book title  
  • Virtual read aloud videos for each book title    
  • Virtual field trips connecting to family pack books and activities  
  • Videos of shared reading strategies for parents/caregivers  
  • Much more!    

Implementer Tool Kit:  

  • Six bilingual children’s books  
  • Bilingual Shared Reading Family Guide  
  • Downloadable Implementer Guide  
  • Exclusive training (live and recorded) designed to provide an overview of the program and tips/tricks to maximize your family engagement!    

Interested in learning more? Check out our Fabulous Fall Info Sheet  here.

Updated Recommendations for Book Bag Rotation!

Raising A Reader has been closely following the REALM project  (Reopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums)  that has conducted research on how long the COVID-19 virus survives on materials that are prevalent in libraries, archives, and museums.    To date, this project has conducted five tests on how long COVID-19 lasts on materials such as hardback, paperback,  kapco-covered and board books.      

Based on the outcomes of these four trials to date, Raising A Reader has updated recommendations for Book Bag Rotation for those programs that continue to rotate materials amongst the families that you serve. To view our updated recommendations, click here.  If you have any questions, please contact us at      

Too Small to Fail Fall FREE Webinar Series  

The Laundry Cares Foundation and Too Small To Fail, the early childhood initiative of the Clinton Foundation, are proud to announce a fall webinar series. The three-part series will be made available free of cost for laundromat owners, early childhood providers and the funding community on September 15, 17, and 22, 2020.

The series features keynotes from former President Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Cindy McCain, Ralph Smith, Managing Director of the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, and other prominent speakers. Also featured are “coffee chats” with children’s authors Andrea Davis Pinkney and Mo Willems.

This series focuses on the high need of young children and their families to find early literacy in everyday spaces and why laundromats are the ideal place to provide these services. Attendees will learn valuable research updates from Dr. Susan Neuman’s evaluation project in Chicago and will take part in tracks of learning to help develop partnerships and amplify results of early childhood literacy in laundromat settings. The first national awards will be given for exemplary partnerships, and awards for laundromat owners showing best practices and early childhood providers will also be presented.

This opportunity is free for community leaders across the country.   You don’t want to miss it.   To find out more or register, go to:

Promising Practices

Alternative Book Rotation Ideas
Virtual learning has caused Coordinators to put on their creative thinking caps to find innovative ways to bring books to families. Here are just a few ideas from the field on how Affiliates have risen to the challenge.    

Partnering with the Library  

  • Pajaro  Valley Unified School District (Watsonville,CA) is partnering with the public library to make use of their Blue Library Bags.   Participating families are given a Blue Library Bag with a library card application. They can come for curbside pick-up of a book bundle of library books (not RAR books) that have been specially selected and quarantined for 4 days.  Families can  return each week to exchange their books for a new bundle,  building  that  reading  routine.  Librarians are thrilled to help get books into the community.  

Virtual Book Bags  

  • Craven Smart Start is sending home  virtual book bags.   Weekly email messages will contain links to the books for the week. Each link will take families to an online read-aloud version of the title. It’’s the next best thing to getting a new bag of books each week.  

Check out these examples and more in our  Going Back Tool Kit.      

Are you finding creative ways to share books with your families? Please share with us!  

Business Behind The Books

These past few months have been difficult on many of our communities, and this month, our Programs & Partnerships team wanted to make sure you had the resources you need to stay organized, whether from home or at school. We’ve compiled a list of our best-kept-secrets; resources to help you stay organized and tackle this year with RAR by your side.

  • Our COVID Going Back Tool Kit features resources to support program implementation, including auditing and disinfecting tip sheets and ideas for virtual family engagement.
  • Want to share how you are still implementing RAR during these times with local or state media outlets? This presentation will help you market your program!
  • Need grant language to apply for a local grant to continue to serve students and their families? Our grant language sample is available for use, and much of it can be copied and pasted.

Still Available – Discounted Replacement Sets!
These deeply-discounted Replacement Sets are designed as an option for our Affiliates to mitigate  loss at a low cost and  include books and Red Book Bags. Blue Library Bags and Parent DVD’s can be purchased separately. The sets contain titles that overlap with our standard Foundation Sets and Supplemental Building Blocks, and are a great option for those with limited funds and a loss of books due to the pandemic.

Research Roundup

Growing Up Surrounded by Books Could Have Powerful, Lasting Effect on the Mind

Blend Images/Alamy Stock Photo

A new study suggests that exposure to large home libraries may have a long-term impact on proficiency in three key areas.

Research has already suggested that opening a book may help  improve brain function,  reduce stress, and even  make us more empathetic. Now, a team led by Joanna Sikora of the Australian National University is looking into the benefits of growing up around a book-filled environment; as Alison Flood of the  Guardian  reports, the researchers’ expansive new study suggests that homes with ample libraries can arm children with skills that persist into adulthood.

Our mission at Raising A Reader is to encourage and support home literacy engagement and book sharing as a family. With COVID-19 and the need for virtual learning, educators are voicing the continued need for ways for families to read together. Raising A Reader is here to support with Red Book Bag modification ideas from the field and  one-way options including our Fabulous Fall Family Packs  that feature books and activities providing families with 12 weeks of literature engagement!

Get more information on the study in the article written by Bridet Katz for Smithsonian Magazine online.  

From RAR Bookshelf

Our selection this month is Suki’s Kimono by Chieri Uegaki, illustrated by Stephane Jorisch.

Suki’s not afraid to be herself. Suki doesn’t care about cool or about what’s new. She knows what’s special to her and what she wants to share with the world. On the first day of school, Suki wears her favorite thing, a kimono from her obachan (grandmother). Despite objections from her sisters and laughter from classmates, Suki is unapologetic. This story teaches us to celebrate what is special about us.

As we begin to reconnect with families, our hope is that children will be encouraged to be unapologetically the person they are, and that we will reaffirm the little ones within our sphere of influence.

Watch the story here. Find Suki’s Kimono in our Grade 1 School Themed Supplemental Building Block.

Welcome to our New Affiliates!

Fairfield, OH
Fairfield City School District
supports the communities of Fairfield Township and the city of Fairfield where they provide a challenging and supportive environment for the education of 10,000 students in preschool through 12th grade.

Phoenix, AZ
Lutheran Social Services
of the Southwest

is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization on a mission to “stabilize people during crisis and transition, build a foundation where people can thrive, and preserve dignity and respect for the most vulnerable.”

Fabulous Fall
Town Hall

As Spring turns to Summer and Summer to Fall, we have transitioned from Super Summer to Fabulous Fall and we are all about helping you and your families go back safely. Please join us each week to learn, share and connect. Click here to register.

Partner Resources: PD and E-Learning

Cox Campus
Roadmap to Reading
Get helpful resources and best practices for reading assessments, targeted small group instruction,
and creating a “classroom” culture and environment wherever learning takes place. New content will be released every two weeks to guide each child through building the foundation for reading.


Campaign for
Grade Level Reading

Learning Tuesdays continue each Tuesday through September
Register here. | 3pm ET

Featured Resources

“Going Back” Resources
(OAN Access Required)

Fabulous Fall Packs
Now Available to Order!

Family Literacy Calendar
Multiple Languages from RAR MA

Cleaning and Disinfecting
RAR Materials

Wide Open School
by Common Sense Media

Free learning activities. Hand-selected and open to all.