This Week at READ USA

Peace In The Pages

Inspiration Abounds: Watch our Peace in the Pages Honorees & More

  • Read USA Inc.
  • October 11 2023


As we reflect upon the past month, the team at READ USA remains captivated by the wisdom, inspiration, and empathy shared during our 2023 Peace in the Pages event, generously presented by David & Monique Miller.

READ Staff at Step-Repeat_large

At Peace in the Pages, we celebrate the connection between literacy and the values of empathy, peace, education, freedom, leadership, and success. The timing of our event, which is hosted annually near Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, is intentional: Gandhi was a peaceful pioneer of freedom whose life inspired the International Day of Non-Violence by the United Nations on Oct. 2nd, his birthday. READ USA believes that peace and freedom through nonviolence can be achieved through a more literate, educated, and therefore empathetic society – a mantra that many of our Peace in the Pages honorees and guests share with us.

And today, we are able to bring the wisdom and inspiration shared during Peace in the Pages right to your home!


We have created a playlist on our YouTube channel featuring Mayor Donna Deegan, student performers from San Jose Elementary School, our generous presenting sponsors David & Monique Miller, and of course – our incredible award honorees!

  • READ to Lead Award: Betty Seabrook Burney, Founder and Board Chair of I’m a Star Foundation
  • READ to Succeed Award: Tim Cost, President of Jacksonville University
  • READ to be Free Award: Kevin Gay, Founder of Operation New Hope
  • READ to Heal Award: Nicole B. Thomas, Hospital President of Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville
  • READ to Remember Award: Dr. Floyd Willis, Physician at Mayo Clinic
  • Marjorie Broward Memorial Award: Paula Findlay, Principal of Arlington Elementary School
  • Mark Landen Memorial Award for Democracy through Journalism: Mark Woods, Columnist for the Florida Times-Union

Our time together at Peace in the Pages was further uplifted by best-selling author and transformational educator Shelley Read, our keynote speaker, and Melanie Lawson, our gracious emcee, who as always knows exactly how to deliver a message so poignantly and personally.

And ultimately, it was hearing the voices of our teen tutors, teacher, and volunteer – the people who do the work alongside us and are part of our READ USA team – who lit up the room.

Our gratitude is endless!

We know you will find inspiration abundant watching the full Peace in the Pages program here.

We hope you will watch and SHARE anything that speaks to you on social media!

Watch Playlist



Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole Sits Down with Jeremy

JJ_DrCole_largeJeremy, our fictional storyteller and namesake of our Jeremy’s Journey series, recently met with another incredible leader, icon, and inspiring human being: Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole.

Dr. Cole graciously sat down with Jeremy recently to share her life journey with him and the people of Jacksonville. Few people have accomplished in a lifetime what Dr. Cole accomplishes in mere years, and the READ USA team is honored and beyond elated to share her story through Jeremy.

Incredible fact: Did you know that Dr. Cole is the recipient of 70 honorary degrees?!

Stay tuned for official release of the 2023 Vol. 10 of Jeremy’s Journey featuring Dr. Cole! Once available, the book can be ordered for $20 via READ USA’s website.

You can also click here to see the full list of published Jeremy’s Journey volumes to place an order.


Children’s Book: Thank you, Mr. Falker, by Patricia Polacco

Written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco thankyoumr_large

Thank you, Mr. Falker, is a beautiful picture book that introduces the reader to five-year old Trisha and her family. Trisha’s family had a strong tradition which emphasized the importance of reading and knowledge. Trisha’s fondest childhood family memories and symbolic family traditions remain with her throughout her adult life. The family celebrated the beginning of her school year and her opportunity to learn. When Trisha was five, her grandpa shared the family tradition by pouring honey on a book to say knowledge is sweet. Trisha was excited to go to school and learn to read from that day forward.

Trisha struggled to read letters and numbers in the first grade. As the years passed, Trisha and her classmates begin to label her as “dumb.” She was unable to comprehend words, letters, and numbers, so she spent a lot of her time drawing, which she loved.

Things changed for Trisha when she met Mr. Falker, her fifth-grade teacher who took an interest in helping her learn to read. Mr. Falker recognized that Trisha was dyslexic, a learning disability that affects reading and decoding words. He employed unconventional methods to support Trisha and encouraged her to try new ways of learning to read.

Thank you, Mr. Falker is filled with heartwarming themes ranging from family traditions, overcoming obstacles, persevering, and kindness. Patricia Polacco, our author and illustrator, learned these lessons throughout her life and is grateful for her fifth-grade teacher who cared enough to help her learn to read.

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

Parent Education Corner: Critical Thinking and Literacy

Critical thinking is the use of logic, reasoning, and executive functioning skills to analyze information and make sound decisions. We use critical thinking skills every day to make good decisions and solve problems. Critical thinking utilizes other important life skills like making connections and communication.

Critical thinking activities help children develop essential problem-solving skills. Here is a great activity to increase critical thinking and literacy skills.

Create a Story Box

Creating stories puts your child’s imagination to work while also developing their logic and sequencing skills.

What you need:

  • A box, bowl, or basket.
  • Various toys or household items that are child safe.

How to play:

  1. Gather 5-6 items into the box (e.g., a toy car, a plastic farm animal, a stuffed bear, a plastic bowl and spoon).
  2. Give your child time to create a story using all the items in the box. For kids ages 5 and under, they can make up the story as they go. The only rule is they must use everything in the box as part of the story.
  3. For older kids, ask them to plan out their story ahead of time.
  4. This is a great activity for older and younger kids to collaborate on together. They can work together to create the story.

Tips for playing:

  • Include dolls or stuffed animals – the story needs characters!
  • Include items your kid already loves playing with plus items that are not usually in the toy box, like a band-aid, a spoon, or a scarf.

If you have time:

  • Take turns telling a story with the items in the box. Your child will love to see how you come up with a story and may copy some of the elements of your story.
  • Tell a story together. Get the whole family in on creating and acting out a play with these items.

From: BEGiN

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