This Week at READ USA

Literacy Tutoring

Starting the Year Strong: A Message From Our CEO

  • Read USA Inc.
  • January 3 2024

Welcome to the first week of 2024, READ USA friends!

The READ USA team has already kicked off the year with our best foot forward, and we are marching ahead with renewed energy, tenacity, and gratitude for all that’s to come.

Speaking of what’s to come, our CEO Dr. Rob Kelly took a few minutes to share some of the exciting happenings that we have coming up at READ USA. Watch his remarks below:

As you can see, January is going to be a fabulous start to 2024 for the READ USA team, Duval County Public Schools, and students and families across the First Coast!

We can’t wait to share more soon!


READ USA & Mayor Deegan’s River City Readers

READ USA is proud to be a partner of Mayor Donna Deegan’s newly launched River City Readers initiative!

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With less than half of 3rd-graders reading on grade level, one of Mayor Deegan’s top priorities for her administration is to improve literacy rates. “It’s an economic development issue, a public safety issue, and a quality-of-life issue for the entire city,” she has said before – and we couldn’t agree more!

On Saturday, January 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Mayor Deegan will officially kick off River City Readers at the Main Library Downtown. (You can click here to register to attend.) During the kickoff event, Mayor Deegan will also issue a reading challenge to Jaxsons across the First Coast – so get those books ready, young readers!

READ USA will distribute FREE books for children from birth through 12th grade and provide dozens of volunteers to help run the event. We will also have a booth with a variety of literacy resources and reading guides for children and parents to take home

It’s going to be a day of fabulous fun for the whole family, and we hope to see you downtown on January 27th!

We are immensely grateful that Mayor Deegan is helping to uplift lives through literacy and READ USA is honored to be a part of River City Readers.

You can read more about River City Readers and the Beanstack Reading Challenge app here.


3,900 Hours and Counting: AmeriCorps Tutor Leaders

Last October, READ USA inducted our first group of AmeriCorps Tutor Leaders – and since that time, these exceptional individuals have dedicated more than 3,900 hours to their community and intensive professional development. We are so proud of every one of our AmeriCorps Tutor Leaders for their commitment to learning and excellence in all they do!

During the past few months, our AmeriCorps Tutor Leaders have (clearly!) been busy. In addition to their daily tutoring of elementary students, they have participated in multiple professional development opportunities, including:

  • Three intensive trainings to further develop their literacy instruction skills with READ USA’s Chief of Programs Tabetha Cox and Content Specialist Kathi Hart.
  • Interfacing with community leaders about what employers and recruiters are looking for, how to dress and act in the workplace, and related topics with Melissa Case of Baptist Health, Arminius Patterson, and Dr. Brianna Patterson.
  • Exploring the future of millennials and Gen Z in the workforce with Simon Sinek, a renowned author and inspirational speaker.
  • Expanding their financial literacy knowledge and skills with Marc Streebel from VyStar Credit Union.
  • Regular debriefs, discussions, and one-on-ones with READ USA’s Workforce Development Director Ashlea Jones.

And, in a sense, they are just getting started! Our AmeriCorps Tutor Leaders will stay with us for a whole year, and we have so many important trainings and development opportunities coming up to continue their growth.

Plus – our AmeriCorps Tutor Leaders will be participating in the Martin Luther King Week of Service the week of January 15th! We can’t wait to share those details with you soon

Did You Choose Your School Yet?  

While it’s only January 3rd, we all know Spring will be here before we know it!

READ USA’s free Book Fairs at all DCPS elementary schools will be coming up soon, providing every student – even if they are absent that day! – with the opportunity to choose free books to keep.

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Sponsoring READ USA is one of the easiest ways you can make an impact on students across Duval County. And, while all sponsors receive benefits from their support, our READ USA Literacy Partners and above receive special recognition: exclusive opportunities to enhance your visibility by being a “READ USA Book Fair Sponsor for [School Name].” At that same school, Literacy Partners can opt to provide further support through read-alouds, volunteer opportunities for family or team members, and more – not only during the Book Fairs, but year-round!

Choose your school today!

Become a Sponsor!

To discuss your sponsorship with READ USA, please contact CEO Dr. Rob Kelly at


Children’s Book: The Night Before New Years by Natasha Wing

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This is another great story in Natasha Wing’s The Night Before series. The Night Before New Year’s is a colorful picture book that shares the story of a family preparing to celebrate New Year’s Eve together. The story is full of excitement and thrills as the family anticipates New Year’s Eve. The family prepared a celebratory feast that had all of their favorite foods. They shared their resolutions and vows of what they hoped for in the new year. In The Night Before New Year's the entire family is determined to stay up and count the minutes and seconds until midnight! The family has stocked up on sparkly streamers and festive party hats, but after a night filled with card games and fun, the little ones start to get sleepy. Can they make it until the clock strikes twelve? They all soon realized it was a long wait until midnight.

This an inspiring read aloud children’s book to share on New Year’s Eve. The rhyme scheme ebbs and flows as the family anticipates the clock striking twelve. This is a great way to celebrate the last day of the year and share new ideas for the upcoming year. There are many traditions and customs that surrounds New Year’s Day. This story is an example of how one family came together to celebrate the new year.

Written and submitted by Dr. Barbara Lacey-Allen, Book Programs & Family Engagement Director

Parent Education Corner: Tips for Transitioning Back to School After Winter Break

Children might struggle to return to normal school routines after a fun winter break. Here are tips for making the transition easier for the whole family.

  1. Return to bedtime routines – Even if you let your children stay up late or sleep in during the break, they should transition to their regular sleep patterns before returning to school. That’s because quality, consistent sleep is essential to your child’s ability to learn. Too little sleep has been associated with “attention, behavior, and learning problems,” according to a statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. In the days before school starts, move bedtime back by 15-30 minutes each night until you’re back to their normal sleep schedule.
  2. Create a back-to-school countdown – Lazy days spent relaxing seem to abruptly stop once school starts again. Ease the transition back to school, especially for younger children, by creating a visual countdown for the end of winter break. That way, the different routine will not creep up so unexpectedly. Older children can enter the date on their personal calendars, letting them track how much more freedom they can enjoy.
  3. Discuss the year ahead – Talking through any worries or concerns, before school begins again, can help your children feel more confident. Older children might want to set some academic New Year’s resolutions they can work toward (e.g., I will improve my reading by reading 15 minutes before I go to bed).
  4. Celebrate their first week back – Returning to school after a fun-filled winter bread can feel a little disappointing. Help soften the blow by organizing something special to celebrate the completion of their first week back. Some examples: a movie night, a special play date, or dinner at their favorite restaurant.

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!

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