This Week at READ USA

Book Choice and Ownership

$12 to Change a Student’s Life

  • Read USA Inc.
  • March 6 2024

Skilled readers develop into lifelong learners and achievers – and for only $12, you have a one-of-a-kind opportunity to empower a student’s future through READ USA Book Fairs.


From our humble beginning in 2011, our READ USA Book Fairs have been intentional: We firmly believe that providing access to books that a student wants to read is vital to developing an interest in reading and becoming a better reader. With 61% of low-income households having zero books in them, we created the Book Fairs to level the playing field and give EVERY student the opportunity to choose and own their own books.

Through READ USA Book Fairs, $12 enables a student to choose two free, brand-new books to take home and keep. Sponsor a student today!

Book Fairs 3 (1)

Starting in April, all 51,000+ elementary students in Duval County Public Schools will receive two free, brand-new books at READ USA Book Fairs, plus reading activity guides and parent/guardian resources to help keep reading fun, engaging, and top-of-mind at home. A $12 investment today can make all the difference to a child tomorrow!

Sponsor a Student

Dr. Rob Kelly to Chair READ JAX Systems Building Committee 

Our CEO Dr. Rob Kelly has been asked to serve as chairman of the READ JAX Systems Building Committee, an exceptional recognition of Dr. Kelly’s extensive career focused on early childhood literacy and his ability to lead and convene.

READ JAX Systems Committee Image

READ JAX is Duval County’s local Grade-Level Reading Campaign initiative, and you can learn more about the initiative’s focus and work here.

In his role, Dr. Kelly will lead a group of literacy-focused professionals to create a community-wide, cross-sector system that results in every child in Duval County reading on grade level by the end of 3rd grade. The committee held its first meeting yesterday, aligning committee members around the committee’s four pillars of focus:

  • Improving existing programs to include literacy-focused initiatives
  • Identifying essential elements needed in a community-wide system to break down silos
  • Identifying innovative supports to pilot
  • Determining methods to effectively measure progress

To accomplish these goals, the committee is focused on communication with key partners and building capacity, while ensuring all actions are centered around equity and ensuring all partners have access to the same opportunities and outcomes.

We are thankful to Kids Hope Alliance (KHA) for convening this important coalition, and our particular gratitude goes to KHA CEO Dr. Saralyn Grass to her support and guidance in bringing this to fruition and giving Dr. Kelly this opportunity.

The committee will have much to share in the future, so stay tuned! In the interim, our READ USA team congratulates Dr. Rob Kelly on the opportunity to lead this important community-wide effort!

READ USA Earns Top Workplaces Designation    

READ USA has earned a Top Workplaces Designation from the Florida Times-Union for Small Companies, thanks to the feedback of our team members!

READ USA Team at MLK Breakfast 2024_large

Our Board of Directors and leadership are honored and thrilled that our employees responded to surveys from Energage, a Florida Times-Union partner for Top Workplaces, expressing satisfaction about such things as direction, leadership, meaningfulness, appreciation, and pay and benefits.

Of the 62 local organizations that participated, READ USA was one of 29 to earn the recognition. Survey scores are compared to national benchmarks from 30 million employees over 18 years, and only those who exceed those benchmarks receive awards. We are so grateful to our team for taking the time and effort to share their honest feedback!

Congratulations to all of the winners and particularly to several other nonprofit organizations in Northeast Florida who also earned the Top Workplaces designation, including our partner Operation New Hope.

You can see the full list of award winners here

Literacy Locker Room at Fort Caroline Elementary   

Thanks to the generous support and involvement of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Florida Lottery, the students at Fort Caroline Elementary School had a school day to remember yesterday!

At Literacy Locker Room events, students choose a free book from READ USA and the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation to take home and keep. Students also got to participate in a mini “pep rally for reading” in the auditorium hosted by Jaguars players and members of the Jacksonville ROAR. We were thrilled to distribute more than 500 books at yesterday’s event, which was complete with a special appearance by Jaxson de Ville!

Many thanks to Jacksonville Jaguars players #55 Dequan Jackson and #47 De’Shaan Dixon for their enthusiasm and participation yesterday, and to ROAR cheerleaders Caroline and Taylor B! We are also thankful to Adriel Rocha, Vice President of Community Impact and Football Development, and Michael Carnahan, Jaguars Foundation Community Impact and Programs Manager, for their unwavering involvement and support of Literacy Locker Rooms.

Sponsored by the Florida Lottery, we are very grateful to John Beasley, Jacksonville District Manager, and Brent Hutchinson, Jacksonville Field Sales Manager, of the Florida Lottery for joining us and for the Florida Lottery’s ongoing support.

Finally, thank you to Fort Caroline Elementary Principal Carlene Smith and her fabulous team of administrators, teachers, and staff for hosting us! 

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Thank You for Having Us, Rufus E. Payne Elementary!

Today, as part of Celebrate Reading Week that Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) is hosting at elementary schools across the county, READ USA joined DCPS, Mayor Donna Deegan, and more than 20 other community partners who did read alouds with the students of Rufus E. Payne Elementary!

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Mayor Deegan did a read aloud with 3rd-grade students and READ USA’s Chief Programs Officer Tabetha Cox read with 1st-grade students. Thank you to DCPS, Mayor Deegan, and all of the community partners who participated in today’s event at Rufus E. Payne Elementary – we were happy to join you all!

Plus, there are other Celebrate Reading Week activities happening this week at the Jacksonville Public Library branches, and you can check them out below:

              Celebrate Reading Week 1  Celebrate Reading Week 2


Children’s Book: The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science, by Joyce Sidman

Original illustrations by Maria Merianthegirlwhodrew_Large

Everyone knows that butterflies come from caterpillars, right?

Not in the 17th century, they didn’t. How would they have known? Caterpillars are small and their metamorphosis took place in hidden places. These “worms were considered pests, and no one connected them to beautiful butterflies.” Only a very sharp-eyed and persistent person would be able to uncover such an extraordinary process and only a person with artistic skill could document it in living color. That person was Maria Sibylla Merian, an artist at a time when women weren’t allowed to be. A scientist before there were scientists. An adventurer who journeyed far and wide in search of the truth of metamorphosis.

In honor of Women’s History Month, The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science is a nonfiction biography illustrated throughout with full-color original paintings by Merian herself. Author Joyce Sidman paints her own picture of one of the first female entomologists and a woman who flouted convention in the pursuit of knowledge and her passion for insects.

Submitted by Kathi Hart, READ USA Content Specialist

Parent Education Corner: Extending Engagement with a Text

After a shared reading moment between you and your child, the opportunity to expand on their understanding and connection with a text is just beginning.

Here are some ideas on how to extend engagement with a text:

Dramatic play: Assign character parts from the book and have your child act out the story with you. Pay attention to what your child comprehends about the actions, emotions, and conversations of the character they are portraying.

Movement: Does the book show emotion? Ask your child to find the parts where the character feels mad, sad, happy, excited. Ask them to move like the character would. What would their face look like? How would their body move?

Art: Ask your child to draw, color, paint, collage, build with playdoh or clay, a scene from the story. What details did they add? Can they add more after discussion? I use the rule: 5 details, 5 colors, 5 labels, 5 words. This is a good start to get your child thinking about the details they noticed. It might even encourage the need to peek back at the text for ideas.

Interactive Writing and Drawing: Based on the topic(s) of the book, help your child create a list of feelings, character features, or setting details within the text. When the list is finished, ask them to choose a few and draw what they listed.

There are many ways to creatively express comprehension and important characteristics of a book. Set some time aside with your child for engagement with a text or two this 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!