This Week at READ USA

Peace In The Pages

Sherry Magill, 2024 READ to Remember Award Honoree

  • Read USA Inc.
  • May 22 2024


Retired President Sherry Magill, Ph.D., of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund is our 2024 READ to Remember Award Honoree! Recognized at our upcoming Peace in the Pages in Honor of Roseann Duran luncheon on Oct. 2, the READ to Remember Award honors someone who makes historical connections relevant to today and embraces literacy as the connection between our past, present, and future.

Sherry Magill Headshot Photo_Large

Dr. Magill is known throughout Jacksonville as having saved downtown’s Haydon Burns Library, which sat vacant for many years, and transforming it into the spectacular Jessie Ball duPont Center. An architectural treasure, The Jessie “brings together the community and its nonprofits in a setting that appreciates our rich history while responding to the demands of today.” And, as someone who learned to read at five years old from her brother, earned her doctorate degree, and rallied the Jacksonville community around many important causes during her career, Dr. Magill knows intrinsically the value of literacy and reading.

“Reading sustains me,” Dr. Magill shared with Jeremy, READ USA’s fictional namesake storyteller of the Jeremy’s Journey book series, when her book was published in late 2022. “I spend much of my time reading and researching. I’m so glad that READ USA is helping Duval County elementary students learn how to read better. Everything I’ve done in my life of leadership has required reading.”

A born leader, Dr. Magill grew up in Prattville, Alabama, one of four children born to her mother who was a nurse and her U.S. Air Force officer father. She was an enthusiastic Girl Scout, earning badges for hiking, backpacking, swimming, biking, and other activities, including her favorite: camping! Her years as a Girl Scout – for which she earned the distinction of Life Scout (equivalent to a Boy Scout’s Eagle Scout rank) – taught her many life lessons and the importance of giving back to your community. Family time was precious to her, including her summers spent at Cedar Pond in upstate New Hampshire with her Nana. “The most important lesson Nana taught me was that love is the center; that friendship, love, and laughter are precious in our beloved community of Earth.”   

2022 Vol 10 - Jeremys Journey Dr. Sherry Magill

        Sherry_Family_large    Sherry_Eve Awards_large

Dr. Magill was no stranger to witnessing struggle, too. The year she was senior class president of her high school was also the year that the Black and white high schools fully integrated for the first time in Autauga County, Alabama. “We students were cool with it, but as the year went on, I discovered the adults had some problems adjusting to new ways,” she told Jeremy. At graduation, there was a racially motivated stabbing that occurred between two adults who didn’t even attend the school. “Unfortunately, people still have trouble believing that we are all equal human beings who deserve respect…we’ve got to reach a point where love and kindness prevail.”

After 25 years as President of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund and earning many awards and accolades, Dr. Magill retired with The Jessie as a crowing jewel in her career – but she has never left public service. Dr. Magill remains active in her community by serving as Chair of LISC Jacksonville’s Local Advisory Council, on the Charles F. Kettering Foundation board, and as a regular contributor to Jax Today.

Read more about Dr. Magill by ordering her Jeremy’s Journey book for $20/copy from READ USA today!

We look forward to the 2024 Peace in the Pages in Honor of Roseann Duran event on Oct. 2 at EverBank Stadium when Dr. Magill and our other award honorees will be recognized. Stay tuned for more Peace in the Pages award honoree features in the coming weeks!

Thank You to Our Peace in the Pages Host Committee

The excitement is building for READ USA’s 2024 Peace in the Pages in Honor of Roseann Duran event in October!

On Monday, we hosted members of our Peace in the Pages Host Committee at the River Club for a kickoff luncheon, officially starting the countdown to the main event on Oct. 2. We are grateful to everyone who could attend, and particularly grateful for our Honorary Co-Chairs, Whitney Meyer of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Brian Wolfburg of VyStar Credit Union, for sharing their remarks about the vital role READ USA plays in the community!

ReadUSA-5587_large_luncheon  ReadUSA-0309_large_luncheon

   ReadUSA-5580_large_luncheon  5.20.24 READ PITP Kickoff Luncheon (1)_large

While we refer to this committed group as a Host Committee, in truth they function more as READ USA Ambassadors. A traditional event host committee is typically tasked with selling event sponsorships and tickets, but our READ USA Host Committee members function more as Ambassadors of our mission. Since our annual Peace in the Pages event isn’t a ticketed event, there are no tickets to sell – attendance is a benefit of sponsoring READ USA at $1,000 or more throughout the year, with all donations going directly to READ USA programming. As such, our Ambassadors are essentially volunteer evangelists of our mission and work, tasked with making introductions for READ USA to new supporters, donors, volunteers, and partners.

Thank you to our Host Committee members a.k.a. Ambassadors (some of whom were unable to join us on Monday) for volunteering your time to support READ USA and for all you do for the people of Jacksonville!

We are also thankful for the three fabulous READ USA teen tutors who joined us for a panel interview with our CEO Dr. Rob Kelly to share their experiences in our Literacy Tutoring program. Many thanks to Hayden, Lynah, and Zani for taking the time to join us – as always, you are the stars of the show, and you made a tremendous impression on our Ambassadors!


A 2024 Chapter Closes While Thousands of Pages Open

This Friday, the 2024 READ USA Book Fairs will officially come to a close, but in their wake are thousands upon thousands – maybe even millions?! – of new pages being opened!


By the end of this week, more than 107,000 books will have been put in the hands of 53,000+ elementary students across 100 Duval County Public Schools (DCPS). It’s no small undertaking, and it’s only achievable due to the dedication of our team, our incomparable volunteers, and the wonderful staff at each elementary school we visit. We are grateful for each and every one of you!

Most importantly, we are grateful for our generous donors who make the READ USA Book Fairs possible. From our largest corporate, family foundation, and individual donors to the donors who sponsored one child for $12, every single dollar and donation was vitally important – just like every single student who received free books and reading resources from READ USA.

Literacy is what empowers a student to pursue a dream, builds a child’s confidence, and has the ability to transform a life. Every single student matters, no matter their background or zip code, and giving every DCPS elementary student the power to choose their own books and their own future is precisely why we founded the READ USA Book Fairs 13 years ago.


IMG_2176_large  IMG_2178_large


Thank you for helping make the 2024 Book Fairs possible – not for our sake, but for every single student who walked into the READ USA Book Fairs with wide eyes, open minds, and grateful hearts. THANK YOU!

Pizza, Gift Cards, and Bicycles? Oh, My!

While READ USA Literacy Tutoring officially wrapped up a couple weeks ago, we couldn’t help but share one final bit of excitement from the Last Day of Tutoring celebrations on May 9!

Pizza and ice cream parties were hosted across the 15 Duval County Public Elementary Schools where Literacy Tutoring occurred during the Spring semester – but the edible treats were just one part of the fun.

As a reward for attendance, READ USA awarded two elementary students at each school with a brand-new bicycle and helmet for:

  • The student with the best overall attendance in our Literacy Tutoring program, and
  • The student with the most improved attendance.

Annie R Morgan 4_large  Annie R Morgan 3_large

Hogan 5  Hogan 6_large  Hogan 13_large

We’re fairly certain folks could hear the excitement in the classrooms pretty far down the street from these elementary schools!

Plus, our teen tutors received $50 Amazon gift cards as a special thank you for their tutoring service!

However, to us, the most heartwarming and special part of the day was seeing some of the sweet messages that students had written to their tutors:

Hogan 7_large

While our teen tutors and elementary students are looking forward to the well-deserved upcoming summer break (armed with free books from the READ USA Book Fairs!), the READ USA team will be getting prepared for the Fall 2024 semester of Literacy Tutoring, which will be here before we know it!

Thank you to our generous donors Ellen and Jim Wiss who provided the bikes and helmets for the students this semester! We hope to continue with this attendance incentive program for elementary students in the future semesters as well.  

Children’s Book: A Person Can Be… by Kerri Kokias

Illustrated by Carey SookocheffA person can be.._large

A one-of-a-kind book that shows how naughty and nice (and other opposite qualities!) can describe the same person — at the same time!

This deceptively simple book uses children’s everyday experiences to explore the complexities of human nature. An opening spread with a wide-shot street view of houses introduces readers to a diverse group of children, seen in the windows or outside, as the narrator muses, “A person can be….” The following pages zoom in on each of the characters. Sookocheff plants tiny clues to delight readers: A youngster releases a butterfly in the park, which is then seen flying in future spreads.

Each page features an illustration of a child embodying two seemingly contradictory characteristics, with the named characteristics as the only text. For example, “Small and strong” is accompanied by an image of a tiny, determined child pulling an overstuffed wagon down the street. “Unlucky and lucky” describes a boy whose bouquet of balloons makes him lucky, but since one has floated away, he’s unlucky at the same time. On another page, a girl is careful to make sure that the food she’s pouring lands in her cat’s bowl, but since her foot has knocked over the bag of food, she’s clumsy as well. And another girl climbing a tree to retrieve a kite is brave, but she’s also afraid. Full of clever observations, it’s sure to pique children’s curiosity about all the ways people can be, while making them wonder — How many different things am I?

Kerri Kokias has crafted a unique and thoughtful picture book that gives children the vocabulary to identify the emotions, attributes, and personality traits of complicated humans everywhere. Both serious and lighthearted, it validates feelings, fosters emotional intelligence, and provides a wealth of social emotional learning. It’s perfect for conversations about how other people can be, and how children sometimes feel they are themselves. Carey Sookocheff’s sophisticated artwork makes the dual characteristics clear, and at the same time, moves each of the character’s stories forward, until all of them are gathered at the playground, “Different and the same.”

Submitted by Kathi Hart, READ USA Content Specialist

Parent Education Corner: How to Encourage Your Child to Like Reading

Over the next several weeks, the Parent Education Corner will provide parents and caregivers with information about how you can help young learners become readers and writers. While it is important that children learn to read and spell individual words, the ultimate purpose of reading and writing is communication. When reading and writing to or with children, it is important to think about the meaning of what is being read or written. Most importantly, reading and writing should be FUN!

How can I encourage my child to like reading?

BE ENTHUSIASTIC! Share your love of reading and your interest in and excitement about what you are reading for your own purpose and the texts you read to/with your children.

Discuss and enjoy the texts you read together. Here are some tips to prompt discussion during and after reading:

  • Talk about what the characters are doing and why.
  • Make predictions about what will happen next in the text based on what has already happened. For example, you might say something like, “I think that…. because….” Or you might ask, “What do you think will happen next? .... What makes you think so?” Then read to find out if your thinking and/or your child’s thinking matches the author’s thinking. These conversations help children to develop into active readers who think about the author’s message as they read.
  • Compare characters, events, and/or information from different texts to people and experiences in your own and/or your child’s life.
  • Share your feelings about what happens in texts and ask your child to share their feelings as well. Talk about the characters’ thoughts and feelings and invite your child to do so.
  • Help your child understand the purposes for reading and writing. To encourage interest in learning to read and write, children need to understand that people use reading and writing every day and in all kinds of ways. Children need to know that people read to get information AND for pleasure. Try engaging children in reading and writing for everyday purposes such as: leaving/sending messages, making and using shopping lists, making plans, accessing information on the internet, sharing their learnings, etc.
  • Talk about what you learned from reading, especially what you found surprising, interesting, and/or puzzling. Have conversations about the surprising parts of the texts you read. For example, “I was so surprised to learn that a big whale eats the equivalent of 80,000 Big Macs in one day! I wonder how much a shark eats?”

Stay tuned for more information next week!

Submitted by Kathi Hart, READ USA Content Specialist

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