This Week at READ USA

Peace In The Pages

WATCH our Peace in the Pages Keynote Speaker: “I wore many hats as a university professor…”

  • Read USA Inc.
  • September 20 2023

Shelley Read, our keynote speaker for the READ USA 2023 Peace in the Pages event presented by David & Monique Miller, will be with us in Jacksonville next week!

Shelley graciously took the time to share a brief video message with our supporters to introduce herself and her diverse and impressive work as a 30-year educator – and how she is excited to “…join with other people who believe in lifting other people up through literacy and education!”

Watch below:


We cannot wait to host her, our Award Honorees, and our Peace in the Pages guests next week!

You can read more about our 2023 Peace in the Pages event presented by David & Monique Miller, taking place next week on Sept. 28 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at TIAA Bank Field, here.

It’s still not too late to donate and attend! Donors who support READ USA at $1,000 a year or more receive several benefits, including seats at Peace in the Pages. You can become a READ USA donor today by clicking here.

WATCH: “Education is the key.”

Kevin Gay, founder and retired CEO of Operation New Hope, recently sat down with READ USA to discuss how upward mobility is measured by one’s ability to access education and training, and how READ USA plays a vital role in creating opportunities for young people to succeed in our city.

Watch his brief video clip below:


Kevin Gay is our 2023 Peace in the Pages READ to Be Free Award Honoree, and he will share more during the event next week.       

DCPS Principal Paula Findlay: “I Have Seen So Much Growth”

Principal Paula Findlay, who has been an educator for nearly three decades, knows how students grow and succeed in school and beyond. “The one-to-one tutoring…has been so powerful,” she says when discussing READ USA Literacy Tutoring at her school, Arlington Elementary.

Watch her discuss how, “the mentoring piece that comes along with tutoring has been instrumental in the gains and growth” of her students:



Principal Findlay is our 2023 Peace in the Pages Marjorie Broward Memorial Award Honoree, and next week during the event she will share additional insights into the empowerment that literacy and tutoring provide to students.

Welcome Ashlea Jones to READ USA!

Ashlea Headshot_large

READ USA has welcomed a new member to the team, Ashlea Jones, our Director of Workforce Development!

A Jacksonville native, Ashlea specializes in bridging the gap between community members and local resources while preparing growing professionals for the future. In her role at READ USA, Ashlea oversees and supports the workforce development program by collaborating with READ USA staff, tutors, teachers, and community stakeholders. She also works to enhance transportation opportunities for tutors and students.

“I firmly believe that Together, Everyone Achieves More,” said Ashlea. “My goal is to create opportunities for our tutors and teachers that will ignite hope and create a sustainable future for the next generation by way of building program impact and capacity.”

Ashlea has served in numerous capacities providing administrative and operational support to a variety of large organizations across Jacksonville. She earned her Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) and her Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management (CNM) from the University of North Florida.

Read more about Ashlea here.

We are thrilled to have Ashlea on team READ USA!

VISTA: Volunteers in Service to America

It’s not too late to apply for READ USA’s open VISTA service positions!

Through the AmeriCorps VISTA program, members receive a living allowance, an education award, professional development training and support, and healthcare benefits by serving in a one-year support role.

READ USA has several opportunities help us grow and improve the lives of even more children and teens in our community:

  • Development Associate will support the sustainability of READ USA through partnership building with private funders and other development activities.
  • Logistics and Scaling Associate will provide logistical support to the READ USA Literacy Tutoring program and support expansion.
  • Grant and Proposal Writing Associate will seek out and apply for grant opportunities while helping maintain positive relationships with funders and stakeholders.
  • External Communications Associate will help enhance external communications by collaborating with the communications team to identify and pursue opportunities to creatively develop digital and printed content.
  • Volunteer Recruitment Associate will help develop and implement a comprehensive volunteer recruitment and management process.
  • Tutor Recruitment Associate will help develop and implement a comprehensive teen tutor recruitment and management process.

Interested to learn more? Visit the Apply section of our website:


vista_2023 (1)

Children’s Book: Waiting for the Biblioburro, by Monica Brown 

Illustrated by John ParraWaitingforBibioburro_large

This is a story of courage and hope and the heart of a young girl named Ana who had a love for learning and reading books.

Ana lived in a remote village in Columbia where access to books was non-existent. Ana owned only one book which was given to her by her teacher who left the village. This story is inspired by a real heroic librarian who traveled to villages with books on two burros. The children were able to select books and keep them until the biblioburro returned to the village. Ana was so happy about the traveling biblioburro that she decided to write a book about the traveling librarian and his burros. When the biblioburro returned to the village, Ana presented him with the book, and he added the book to the library collection for children in the local villages to read. The traveling librarian is celebrated for the triumphs and challenges that he endured to get the books in the hands of the children that lived in the remote villages.

The pictures in Waiting for the Biblioburro vividly describe the content and the culture of the story. John Parra’s Latino heritage inspired him to illustrate an authentic picture book which depicts his values, customs, and beliefs. The brilliant illustrations provide clarity and truth to the story.

Submitted by Dr. Barbara Lacey-Allen, Book Programs & Family Engagement Director

Parent Education Corner: How to Grow a Reader – Toddlers

It’s hard to overestimate how important reading is to a toddler’s intellectual, social, and emotional development. When you read with toddlers, they take it all in: vocabulary and language structure, numbers and math concepts, colors, shapes, animals, opposites, and all kinds of useful information about how the world works. What’s more, when you read out loud, your toddler connects books with the familiar sound of your voice — and the physical closeness that reading together brings. You are helping build a positive association with books that will last a lifetime.

Keep in mind:

  1. Reading happens throughout the day. Nightly bedtime reading is an important routine for parents of toddlers. There’s no better way to get your little one to relax before bed. Make sure bedtime reading is soothing and not rushed and choose some of the many books that end with a peaceful going to bed scene (e.g., Goodnight Moon, Llama Llama Red Pajama). But also, read with your toddler during the day as well. Offering to read books with toddlers is one of the best ways to get them to slow down and focus. Sit, close, and enjoy these moments of connection while the sun is still shining.
  2. Respect your child’s preferences. Your toddler is beginning to develop their own tastes and opinions. Your child may not enjoy all the books you enjoyed as a child. You may not be all that excited about talking trucks, fairies and unicorns, but your child might be. Encourage your child to express what they like about their books and find more books like those.
  3. Enjoy reading together. The more you can make reading mutually enjoyable, the more it will be associated with pleasure and reward. If your child doesn’t like your silly talking animal voice, don’t use it. Remember it’s your child’s story time, too. To help your child be more involved in reading together, let them turn the pages, to control the pace.
  4. It’s O.K. to interrupt. Don’t get so caught up in your own reading that you ignore your child’s comments and questions. Interruptions show that your child is engaged. Try it: If you find yourself saying, “Just let me finish this page,” stop and ask your toddler to repeat the question. If children don’t seem engaged by the words, ask what they see in the pictures. Point at things and invite them to explain or narrate the action.
  5. Choose diverse books. All children need to see themselves reflected in the picture books around them. If your child is a member of a racial or ethnic minority, seek out books that feature children who look similar to yours. All children need to encounter books that present the variety of cultural traditions and family structures that coexist in our communities. Exposing children to diversity in books will prepare them for life in a diverse world.

From: How to Raise a Reader “”

By Pamela Paul and Maria Russo

Submitted by Kathi Hart, Content Specialist

Do you have any questions or ideas for the Parent Education Corner? Anything you’d like to learn? Let us know here!