This Week at READ USA

Multicultural Literacy

“Let kids choose what they want to read.” – Watch Dr. Kelly on Channel 4!

  • Read USA Inc.
  • June 28 2023

A version of the Nation’s Report Card was released last week, revealing unsettling results from standardized tests demonstrating worrisome declines in both reading and math scores among the country’s 13-year-olds.

Of particular concern to READ USA is that fewer children are reading for fun, which correlates to lower reading performance. In 2012, 33% of 13-year-olds said they read for fun “a few times a year” or less, while in 2023, approximately 47% said a few times a year or less. (You can read more in the USA Today article here.)

Our CEO Dr. Rob Kelly was invited on News4Jax’s Morning Show over the weekend to discuss what factors led to the decline and how parents can help motivate their kids to find joy in reading – thereby improving their reading performance not just for school tests, but for lifelong learning and success.

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“If kids aren’t enjoying reading, and engaged in the reading, then they’re not going to get better at it… Let kids choose what they want to read, and then talk to them about what they’re reading.”

Watch the News4Jax segment below – and many thanks to the Channel 4 team and Weekend Anchor Ashley Harding for having Dr. Kelly join you!



Resources to Inspire a Love of Reading

READ USA offers multiple resources for both children and parents to help inspire a love of reading at home. As our CEO Dr. Rob Kelly has always said, “When children get to choose what they want to read, they actually want to read! It really is that simple!”

Check out some of these FREE resources from READ USA that can help cultivate a joy for reading in our little ones:

Student Reading Activity Book

READ USA provides a free, downloadable Student Activity Book featuring a variety of fun ways that you can motivate children to read. It is also available in multiple languages including Arabic, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, and others.

There is also a downloadable Parent Guide to help parents engage with your children about what they are reading!

Online Read Alouds

READ USA offers a number of free, online Read Alouds of popular titles read by local community leaders and members. The Read Alouds are intentionally diverse to give children options of books featuring characters that look like them. Check them out on our YouTube channel here!

Parent Resource Videos

Our Multicultural Literacy programming includes a collection of resource videos to help parents better understand how to choose appropriate books to read and discuss with their kids. The videos also will help you teach perspective taking and tackle tough questions children may ask. Check out those videos here!

Plus, the Jacksonville Public Library has a plethora of free online and in-person resources to help engage children in reading, and its Library Academy Newsletter is a great resource to get tips and information right in your inbox every month.


Children’s Book: Helen’s Big World: The Life of Helen Keller, by Doreen Rappaporthelensbigworld_large

Illustrated by Matt Tavares
Helen Keller was born on June 27, 1880, and became blind and deaf at 19 months old. This
inspirational picture-book biography is an excellent and accessible introduction for young readers to
learn about this remarkable woman who overcame her physical disabilities as a child and rose to
become a humanitarian, educator, and writer.
With her signature style of prose laced with stirring quotes, Doreen Rappaport brings to life Helen
Keller’s touching narrative. Acclaimed illustrator Matt Tavares beautifully captures the vitality and
spirit of Helen Keller’s life and legacy, making Helen’s Big World an unforgettable portrait of a woman who inspirationally proclaimed, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”

Submitted by Kathi Hart, Tutoring Program Content Specialist

Parent Education Corner: Focus on Vocabulary

Developing a wide vocabulary is fundamentally important for children. The vocabulary size of a 4-
year-old is a predictor of educational outcomes at age 16. A broad vocabulary also boosts social
skills and confidence through childhood and into adulthood.

Your input as a parent to your child’s vocabulary is crucial. As much as 95% of the words a child
knows is also found in their parents’ vocabulary, and parental involvement in learning increases
children’s motivation and achievement.

It’s easy to integrate vocabulary development into your home life and everyday routine through
reading, talking and playing.

Here are some fun suggestions:

1. Bring new words to life
If your child learns a new noun (e.g., galaxy), find a picture of it online or in a book. If it’s an
adjective, think of things that can be described using the word, like a meager allowance or a diligent
student. If the new word describes an emotion, show the feeling with a facial expression, ask “How
do you look when you feel annoyed, miserable?” It’s fun to act out new verbs – try sauntering to the
car, hoisting your bookbag, or squirming in your seat.

2. Visualize new words on paper
To help your child remember the meaning of a word, draw a situation that represents that word. For
example, if the new word is ‘reluctant,’ they can draw a picture of them eating Brussel sprouts.

3. Encourage your child to read books and read aloud to them
Children who read a lot have wider vocabularies than those who don’t. Even if your child is a good
reader, reading aloud to them helps them access harder texts. This exposes them to more
challenging words and creates the opportunity for conversation.

4. Encourage your child to read material other than books
New words can be acquired in a multitude of places. A cereal box could introduce your child to the
word ‘ingredients’ and a car handbook to the word ‘metallic.’ Don’t overlook the benefits of reading
magazines or online content.

5. Talk with your child
Parent-child conversations (two-way) are known to be one of the main influencing factors on
vocabulary development. When you’re with your child, talk about anything and everything –
describe what happened to you at work, something interesting you saw on the way home, share a
favorite childhood memory. This Summer, wherever you are talk about what you see and experience
and look out for new words on signs and labels.

6. Repeat, repeat, repeat
For a new word to become embedded, a child needs to encounter it more than once. Typically, a
child needs to hear a new word between 4 and 12 times before it is committed to their long-term
memory and truly added to their vocabulary.

7. Play games together
Board games such as Scrabble and Boggle (including Junior versions) are a great way to discover new
words. Word searches and crosswords are a good way to introduce new words, provide conversation
starters and link a word to its meaning. Even ‘I spy…’ can be a fun way to introduce new nouns.
For games, stories and fun family activities that support vocabulary development visit:

Submitted by Kathi Hart, Tutoring Program Content Specialist

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