This Week at READ USA

Peace In The Pages

From READ USA CEO Dr. Rob Kelly: Thank You!

  • Read USA Inc.
  • October 12 2022

I want to personally thank you for attending and supporting our 4th Annual Peace In The Pages event on Friday. Your participation helped make this special event a success and our entire team at READ USA is incredibly grateful for you.

In the 11 years that READ USA has been working to close the literacy gap in our community, we have made significant progress towards helping children achieve grade-level reading proficiency – and you have played a crucial role in making that progress possible. As you know, literacy is the most essential skillset that we possess; it is the foundation for all future growth, learning and development, and the ability to read is essential to our children achieving their fullest potential possible.

It is your support that has enabled the original vision and mission established by our pioneering founders Ellen Wiss and Vanessa Tussey to have a growing, scalable and measurable impact on our community. I’d like to remind you of several ways that you are changing lives through READ USA:

  • As you heard from external evaluators from The Ohio State University, the READ USA Literacy Tutoring Program is measurably advancing literacy in fourth-grade students: More than 1,600 students are making significantly more progress on standardized tests, while forming impactful connections with our 300+ teen tutors who are earning a living wage and learning career development skills. The program is truly groundbreaking, and it is Read more about that in this newsletter edition!
  • This year, more than 52,000 local children were provided with access to more than 156,000 free books, and most importantly, the ability to choose the books they want to read. It almost goes without saying, but if children can choose the books they want to read, they actually want to read! It really is that simple.
  • Our Jeremy’s Journey series not only showcase the commitments of multiple local leaders who are making Jacksonville a better place, but students who read these books can see themselves in these leaders. Representation is essential in education, our community and our society, and our fictional character Jeremy is exposing our children to opportunities they might never have known about otherwise.

These are just a few of many areas of impact that you are making possible. Your commitment to literacy is fueling the ability for these young minds to learn, grow and become tomorrow’s leaders. As you heard from our celebrated Peace In The Pages award winners, this is so vitally important to our society and to the individual lives READ USA is working to improve every single day.

On behalf of our Board of Directors, dedicated staff and volunteers, thank you for your remarkable generosity and unwavering commitment to creating brighter futures for our children.

With utmost gratitude,

Dr. Rob Kelly
Chief Executive Officer
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Continue Celebrating Peace In The Pages!


READ USA had the honor and pleasure of hosting more than 400 guests during our 4th annual Peace In The Pages event last week, and we are so grateful!

Let’s keep the celebration going! Check out our photo album on Facebook here, and we encourage you to share, tag yourself and your friends, and share any reactions or comments!

We have also been posting a variety of content from Peace In The Pages on our Facebook and Twitter accounts that you can share and retweet. Thank you for helping us continue enjoying this remarkable event!







READ USA Literacy Tutoring Achieves Promising Reading Gains

During our Peace In The Pages event last week, external evaluators from The Ohio State University shared their analysis and observations from READ USA’s Spring 2022 Literacy Tutoring and the gains made by both the 4th-grade students and their teen tutors.

Based on results from state-approved reading assessments, 4th-grade students across 12 DCPS elementary schools achieved meaningful literacy progress:

  • READ USA students made significantly greater fall-spring gains on the STAR and kept pace on the FSA standardized tests, relative to the comparison group
  • Both READ USA students and tutors made greater than expected gains on the GORT
  • READ USA students had higher daily attendance than comparison students

From OSU: “READ USA created a unique structure with its Literacy Tutoring Program. READ USA’s program is embedded in the school system, employs local teens as tutors, and has a full system of support for the students, tutors, and teachers participating, among other unique characteristics. We have our pulse on what’s happening nationally, and we haven’t really seen anything like this before.” 

“It bears mentioning that across all settings, there was an air of efficiency and seriousness about the work. Everyone moved quickly from materials, to tutoring, to finalizing lesson records and then returning the records to the student’s file at the end of the lesson. No time was wasted,” added OSU.

Our CEO Dr. Rob Kelly shared the following: “One of the major insights gleaned from these results is that READ USA’s tutoring program is truly accelerating the rate of progress that students can achieve. When you put these results in context, we must note that these gains were made during a 16-week period in the Spring only. So, when you see that students increased by nearly two grade levels during only a portion of a single school year, it firmly demonstrates the impact that READ USA is having.

We have more work to do to continue closing the literacy gap in Duval County, and the results and impact are showing what we know to be true: READ USA tutoring WORKS!

We are so grateful for our dedicated donors and supporters, and most importantly our teen tutors, who are making this tremendous impact possible.

Read more about our Literacy Tutoring here.

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Children’s Book: Turtles are found on every continent...Except Antarctica! By Todd Sturgell

Turtles are found on every continent… Except Antarctica! By Todd Stargell

Our main character, a turtle, is told by the narrator that animals can’t live in Antarctica. Instead of taking that as a warning, he takes it as a challenge! As he journeys to Antarctica, he picks up more animals along the way. Maintaining a humorous dialogue with the narrator as he travels through the world on his way to the icy plateau, he doesn’t know what he will do when he gets there. He quickly discovers there is nothing green. What will he eat? Where is the warmth? Where is the fresh water and soil? Maybe turtles aren’t found on Antarctica for a reason!

Packed with information, maps, facts and a hearty glossary, this book is the perfect balance of humor, fiction, and real-life dismay.

“Snarky dialogue and the hapless narrator's growing frustration add lots of humor to the engaging story...[a] well-executed and entertaining book.” - Horn Book

Submitted by Tabetha Cox, Tutoring Program Director

Education Corner - Building Pre-Reading Skills: Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness is foundational to reading for emergent and early readers. Phonemic awareness is a child’s basic understanding that speech is composed of a series of sounds. It is the ability to manipulate these sounds, known as phonemes, in words orally. It is the understanding that every word is comprised of basic sounds or phonemes. Playing with words and sounds verbally is the best way to help children hear how these sounds fit together to make words.

Parents can help their preschoolers practice phonemic awareness by singing songs and nursery rhymes together, talking about the words that rhyme, or sound alike at the end of the words. Young children love to play with words, calling out a list of words that all sound the same at the beginning or end of the word: b-baby, b-bug, b-boy, etc.

Ask your young one to say words without parts of them. Say ant without the ‘t’, say play without the ‘p’, say mail with the ‘m’, etc.

For more ideas on how to practice this critical reading skill, check out this resource for parents from Heggerdy, which also provides materials that are used by classroom teachers across the country.