This Week at READ USA

Book Choice and Ownership

Do you know what $12 can do?

  • Read USA Inc.
  • March 20 2024

We can tell you exactly what $12 does: it gives an elementary student the ability to choose and own two free, brand-new books at READ USA Book Fairs – plus reading activity guides and family resources! All for $12 per student!


We intentionally created the READ USA Book Fairs to level the playing reading field and give every student the opportunity to choose and own their own books. Over 60% of low-income households have zero books in them, depriving many students of the opportunity to read, learn, and expand their minds while at home. This is precisely why READ USA launched our free Book Fairs over a decade ago, and we have since put more than 780,000 books in a quarter-million students’ hands and homes.

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All 51,000+ elementary students in Duval County Public Schools will participate in the READ USA Book Fairs starting in April, so now is the perfect opportunity to invest $12 in a student’s life and future.

Sponsor a Student

If You Enjoy Bringing Delight to a Child, Here’s an Opportunity      

Smiling faces, happy hearts, and giddy minds – these are the sights you will see when you volunteer at READ USA Book Fairs!

And, we’re sure you’ll feel the same as them!


book fairs

Starting in April, READ USA Book Fairs will kick off at all DCPS elementary schools, reaching all 51,000 DCPS elementary students. Volunteers are the backbone support to our staff in running these book fairs, fulfilling essential tasks that include:

  • Guiding young students through the book fair and helping them select books that interest them (which is THE most fun job, if you ask us!)
  • Supporting teachers and READ USA staff with keeping students and books organized during the Book Fair
  • Book Fair set-up and pack-up

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If there is a school in your neighborhood where you’d like to volunteer, or a specific date that works best for your schedule, let us know.

Book Fair Dates (Locations to be released soon)

  • April 3rd – 5th
  • April 8th – 12th
  • April 29th – May 3rd
  • May 6th – May 10th
  • May 13th – May 17th
  • May 20th – May 24th

We hope you will join us at a Book Fair and experience the same joy we do!

Volunteer at a Book Fair!


Episcopal School of Jacksonville Hosts Book Fair to Support READ USA

The Episcopal School of Jacksonville Beaches Campus has gone above and beyond for READ USA and the students we serve, and we are humbled, grateful, and truly in awe of the generosity that abounds in their students.

This week, the Beaches Campus, which enrolls students in Pre-K3 through 5th-grade, hosted its very own Book Fair. Differing from READ USA’s free Book Fairs at DCPS elementary schools, the Beaches Campus students purchased books at the Book Fair – and the Fair’s proceeds will be donated to READ USA! Students also had the opportunity to purchase and donate books in a donation bin to be distributed to other students across Duval County.

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The opportunity derived from READ USA donor and supporter Laura Smith, whose children attend the school.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to children and reading – but this was also so much more than a book fair,” Laura shared with us. “This was a total win-win for our school community, which hasn’t experienced a book fair. Before the fair, my children asked me, ‘what’s a book fair?’ Now, after the experience, they absolutely loved it. They were actually just as excited about picking out books to donate as they were about picking out books for themselves!”

She continued, “The fair was a fantastic way to empower our children to give to their peers, and model how important it is to give back. Plus build their excitement in reading! Ultimately, it was about service, community, and reading all in one event.”

As the beneficiary, READ USA provided volunteers and logistical support for the Book Fair.

Our immense gratitude goes to Laura Smith, the Episcopal School of Jacksonville Beaches Campus Head of Lower School Jennifer Ketchum and her leadership team, our fabulous volunteers, and most importantly, the generous and kindhearted students!

READ USA Participates in Black Family Wellness Expo

Last weekend, the READ USA team had the privilege to participate in the Black Family Wellness Expo at WJCT Studios hosted by AARP and the Bold City and Jacksonville chapters of The Links, Incorporated. Many thanks to our friend Marsha Oliver at the PGA Tour for the invitation to join this exceptional team of individuals and organizations promoting health and wellness in the Black community!

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During the event, READ USA gave out free books for children (who enjoyed a number of other fun activities!) and parent resource guides. Thank you to our dedicated volunteer and AmeriCorps Tutor Leader Tyler McDonald for joining us in the fun!

We were excited to see our READ USA Board Member Kawanza Humphrey from VyStar Credit Union and READ USA friends Nicole Thomas from Baptist Health and Wanda Willis from The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida at the event! We are always inspired by your dedication and support of so many important organizations in our community.

Thank you to everyone who made the Black Family Wellness Expo possible and the opportunity to join you!      


Children’s Book: Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?, by Tanya Lee Stone

Illustrated by Marjorie PricemanBookimage_large

Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell is a great choice for Women’s History Month.

In the 1830’s, when a brave and curious girl named Elizabeth Blackwell was growing up, women were supposed to be wives and mothers. Some women could be teachers or seamstresses, but career options were few. Certainly, no women were doctors.

But Elizabeth refused to accept the common beliefs that women weren’t smart enough to be doctors, or that they were too weak for such hard work. And she would not take no for an answer. Although she faced much opposition, she worked hard and finally―when she graduated from medical school and went on to have a brilliant career―proved her doubters wrong. This inspiring story of the first female doctor shows how one strong-willed woman opened the doors for all the female doctors to come.

Tanya Lee Stone uses a fun and conversational style of narration and Marjorie Priceman’s playful illustrations add to the enjoyment of this story. Any child who’s ever been told she (or he) “can’t” grow up to be something will identify with young Elizabeth and find something to appreciate in this book.

Submitted by Kathi Hart, READ USA Content Specialist


Parent Education Corner: Encouraging Young Writers

Just as reading at home helps to strengthen young readers’ skills, writing at home helps to strengthen young writers’ skills. We expect children to read every day, and we should expect them to write every day, too.

Encouraging children to write at home is no easy task. Encouraging reluctant writers to write at home is even harder. These easy-to-implement and screen-free writing activities will help your children write at home and look forward to it, too!

All you will need to implement these writing ideas at home are paper or notebooks, a pencil, and a few common household items.

Create a writing space

Children thrive with structure. If possible, create a fun space for children to write at home. This can be a corner in their room, a desk, table, anyplace they can go to and know it is time to write! Don’t have a space to use? Grab an old shoebox and fill it with writing tools your children will need like paper, a notebook, pencils, and crayons. Now they have a portable writing desk that allows them to write anywhere!

Make bulleted lists

Have children keep a list of all the different activities they do each day at home in a journal or notebook. Simply put the date at the top of the list and have kids create the list. Some activities may be everyday tasks, like make the bed, while others may be more exciting, like went on a nature walk. No matter the task, have children record them all. This simple activity not only helps children to write each day, but by creating this list, they are creating a brainstormed list of ideas that they can later turn into narrative writing pieces.

Create a descriptive web

Have children select any household item and create a descriptive web in their writing notebook. To do this, they simply write the word of the item they are describing in a circle and create a web of descriptive phrases about it using their five senses. You could also give more specific directions for what to write about, such as a special toy, a piece of fruit, or something that fits in your hand.

Write about reading

Since children are expected to read every day, why not have them write about what they read? This does not have to be a long task at all! Keep it simple and have children write a sentence or two that summarizes their reading, something that they learned, or a prediction that they have. Just a quick response to practice writing at home each day.

Create an instruction manual

Have children keep a procedural writing journal of all the things that they did while they were home over break. They will not only be practicing their writing skills, but they will never be stuck for an idea. They can write directions for ANY TASK they did that day including making a bed, brushing their teeth, washing dishes, building a Lego set, reading a book, really anything! To motivate children to write, have them create a comic book style illustrations to match.

A picture is worth a thousand words

This one is simple! Grab any photo, even a digital one saved on a phone or tablet, and have the children write about it. They can write about what happened that day, a descriptive piece about the setting, or even a short story. Children love using pictures to write, so why not use ones that they know a lot about already to get them writing?

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!