We are thrilled to have Olivia Fingold on the team for the 2021-2022 school year! Olivia joins us from Duke University’s North Carolina LiteracyCorps program, a statewide consortium of AmeriCorps members working to build the capacity and impact of community and campus-based literacy programs.
Get to know Olivia in our quick Q&A with her below:
What is your favorite children’s book?
My favorite children's book is "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle. I have very early memories of this book and its vivid imagery and also love that it has maintained its icon status to this day.
Where is your favorite place to read?
I love to read outside when the sun is shining and the weather is clear. On days like this I feel like I can be transported anywhere between the pages of a book.
What’s the last thing you read, book or otherwise?
The last book I read was "The Overstory" by Richard Powers, a narrative story told by five individuals that all revolve around trees and their significance in life.
If you could have one author, dead or alive, over for dinner, who would it be?
I would love to have Anissa Gray over for dinner; she wrote "The Caring and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls," a book that has had a massive impact on me over the past year.
Who inspired your love of reading?
My fifth grade teacher Mrs. Pahl inspired my love of reading by providing read aloud time every day for our class. During the read aloud, one student was chosen to be a note taker and write down words or phrases that stood out from the text for the class to discuss afterwards. I cherished this time and looked forward to it every day.
What’s your favorite book-to-movie adaptation?
My favorite book-to-movie series is Harry Potter. My older sister used to read one chapter out loud to me every night before we went to bed and I remember the thrill of waiting in line for a copy with her and packing into a movie theater to watch it the moment the movies were released.
When is the last time you read to someone else?
I went to the lake with a friend and their mom and brought a book along about a month ago. I hadn't started reading it yet and started discussing it with both of them when I offered to read it aloud. I only read a couple chapters but was instantly reminded of the power of sharing stories and coming together over a text.
If you wrote an autobiography, what would it be titled?
My autobiography would be titled “Carpet Tales”, and would contain an anthology of old journal entries from second grade up until now. Most are short, hysterical to look back on, and almost all written while sitting on the ground.
What is your favorite genre to read?
I love reading character-driven fiction with strong narration. These kinds of books give me the same feeling I get while watching a great movie where I feel fully immersed in the characters' lives.
What is one of your favorite things to do in Asheville/favorite aspect of Asheville?
I love that Asheville sits in the Blue Ridge Mountains where there is endless beauty and opportunity to be outside.
Here at R2S, we are celebrating our students in Asheville City and Buncombe County returning to school and have come up with a few tips and tricks for a fun and successful school year!
1. Stay up to date on how to keep your student safe.
Both Asheville City Schools and Buncombe County Schools websites provide important resources and updates to keep up with frequently changing information. Strong Schools NC created a public health toolkit for K-12 students with everything you need to know for this upcoming school year related to local COVID-19 protocols.
2. Celebrate that reading can happen anywhere.
Encourage your student to bring a book along whenever you leave the house. Reading is a fantastic way to fill time between errands, during a wait, or when they are tired of running around at the park. This helps your student use all the information they’ve been getting at school while simultaneously giving you an easy structured activity.
*Pro tip: Don't have a book handy? Try one of these free reading apps for kids on your smartphone or tablet.
3. Celebrate autumn with seasonal reads for kids.
With a slew of new books arriving this fall, there are so many options for our learners to choose from. Brightly suggests these newly released reads for the fall season, and if you want to read an autumn classic with your student, check out these recommendations from We Are Teachers.
4. Create a reading nook.
One of the most special parts about learning to read is feeling comfy, cozy, and relaxed in the space where you do it. When we make space for students to create their own world of reading, we allow them to embrace reading as a fun and magical time! A comfortable chair or cozy corner is all you need to create the perfect space for a reading nook. Our go-to items include a good source of light, a warm blanket, a pillow, and books!
5. Hold space for communication about returning to school and all the feelings that come along with it.
We know this past year has been exceptionally challenging for our students and want to make sure that they feel heard and have their feelings validated about being back in space that might be completely new to them. This is a good time to revisit books that are comforting and familiar or to explore a book that talks about what it's like to be back in school again.
10 STEM-Inspired Books With Black Characters
10 Ideas for Summer Reading Fun
8 Great Free Reading Apps for Kids
Vocabulary Jar - Fun Family Literacy Idea
15 Fun Ways to Weave Reading Into Family Time
Read Aloud Tips for Young Readers (And Their Parents)
35 Things Kids Can Read That Arenâ€™t Books
Read to Succeed Asheville/Buncombe (R2S) is thrilled to welcome Ile Adaramola and Jaimee Stanley as the newest members of their leadership team.
Ile Adaramola, a prominent local Black lawyer and business owner of Adaramola Law Firm in Asheville, NC, was elected as Read to Succeed’s Board President on Thursday, July 29, 2021, for a three-year term. Adaramola has been a longtime supporter of R2S and was initially recruited by R2S founder Isaac Coleman in 2015 to join the board. She additionally serves on the board of the Asheville City Schools Foundation.
“The maternal side of my ancestry established a powerful precedent of civil rights activism,” said Adaramola. “My great-grandfather paid poll taxes for Black Americans in his community to ensure their participation in voting. My grandmother organized a protest on her city’s mayor’s lawn during the 1950-1960 civil rights movement. It is a profound honor to be able to lead this organization and continue to develop partnerships within our community with leaders who seek to remove the barriers of equity in education.”
Jaimee Stanley joins R2S as a Co-Executive Director by way of Asheville City Schools (Claxton Elementary) after earning her Masters of Education in Educational Leadership from Florida Gulf Coast University and teaching first, second, and third grades. “I come from a long line of Black women educators; they taught me that reading was a gift and an opportunity to imagine a better future,” said Stanley. “I am excited to be the new Co-Executive Director at Read to Succeed, and I cannot wait to work with community partners to provide more literacy resources and support for children who have historically been pushed to the margins.”
Jess McLean transitioned from Interim Executive Director into the partnering role as Co-Executive Director with Stanley after a synergistic and collaborative summer working together putting on Summer Reading Carnivals for 250 families at the Edington Center and in the Hillcrest, Deaverview, and Woodridge Apartment Communities. McLean shares, “Jaimee has had an immediate impact on our organization, bringing her deep teaching expertise and her sparkling positive energy to everything she touches. We are excited to work together with a passionate visionary like Ile to support Black families with reading and move literacy forward in
Read more about this exciting news in our press release here.
R2S Fundraiser | Summer 2021
Support community-powered literacy programming in Buncombe County. Help Read to Succeed Raise $30,000 by August 31, 2021.
We are quickly approaching our $30,000 goal! Thank you to everyone who has already donated and helped us spread the word.
For thirty years, literacy rates among young children in the U.S. have remained largely unchanged. While science shows us 95% of all children can learn to read (no matter their race, socio-economic background, or location), we still see 34% of fourth-graders in our country reading below a basic level.
In Asheville, fewer than 25% of Black 3rd-8th graders read at grade-level - this statistic reflects one of the worst opportunity gaps between Black and white students in the entire U.S.
At Read to Succeed, we know improving literacy rates and closing the opportunity gap comes down to high-quality instruction and community and family-powered literacy programming. That's why we:
Our goal is to raise $30,000 by August 31st to meet our financial expenses not covered by grants. Help us reach this goal!
Learning to read means being able to learn, apply for jobs, vote, volunteer, read prescriptions, explore the world, and so much more! When you invest in literacy, you help unlock potential and open the door to opportunity for young children.
To donate today visit r2sasheville.org/bright-future (online form or Paypal available), or send a check to Read to Succeed, P.O. Box 18652, Asheville, NC 28814.
Here are some other ways to give:
Help Spread the Word
It's easy to spread the word about Read to Succeed and encourage your friends, family, and neighbors to invest in literacy in our community.
1) Use this letter template and send via email - click here.
2) Post on social media - here are a few existing posts you can click and share:
3) Contact us if you are a business who would like to partner with R2S to move literacy forward in Asheville and Buncombe County - email email@example.com.
Check out these STEM-inspired children's books featuring Black characters to encourage your reader to dream big this summer! These are also great reads for nurturing a passion for learning before the first day of school in the fall.
"Cookie & Milk: A Scientifically Stunt-tastic Sisterhood" by Michele McAvoy, illustrated by Jessica Gibson
Cookie and Milk are opposites: Cookie enjoys math and science subjects while Milk would rather play sports. Yet, the two best friends are able to bring the best out of each other despite their differences. Through their relationship, McAvoy touches upon the themes of diversity, STEM, and friendship. Watch this read-along from McAvoy!
"Abby Invents Unbreakable Crayons" by Dr. Arlyne Simon, illustrated by Diana Necsulescu
Learn about scientific processes, research, and inventions with Abby as she tries to invent the world's first unbreakable crayons. This is a great story that encourages readers to become problem-solvers. Read-along with Dr. Simon here.
"Indigo Blume and the Garden City" by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by JahSun
Nine-year-old Indigo joins a "Go Green" contest in hopes of building a rooftop garden. Although her friends doubt her idea, she manages to grow a garden and help clean up the community. Indigo's story centers around environmentalism and community building, both great themes to discuss with young readers! Watch this Indigo Blume read-along.
"Mae Among the Stars" by Roda Ahmed, illustrated by Stasia Burrington
Inspired by the first African American Woman who space traveled, Mae Jemison, Mae Among the Stars tells readers that every dream is worth having and believing in as long as you work hard to achieve it. Check out this Mae Among the Stars read-along.
"Look Up With Me: Neil deGrasse Tyson - A Life Among the Stars" by Jennifer Berne, illustrated by Lorraine Nam
Continuing off the theme of space, Berne shares the story of Neil deGrasse Tyson. Before becoming a famous astrophysicist, young Neil had a curiosity for the world beyond the city lights. Learn about Neil's interest in science and the universe with this Look Up With Me read-along.
"Jabari Tries" by Gaia Cornwall
Jabari wants to create a flying machine that soars across his backyard. However, he realizes that invention isn't as easy as he thought it would be. With a little bit of encouragement from his father and his sister, Jabari learns that persistence is all you need to make your dreams a reality. Watch this Jabari Tries read-along.
"Baby Loves Gravity!" by Ruth Spiro, illustrated by Irene Chan
Why does food fall when Baby drops it? Spiro introduces the idea of gravity to even the youngest of readers in Baby Loves Gravity! See a read-along for Baby Loves Gravity.
,"The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind" by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
William Kamkwamba's village is suffering from a drought, and everyone is struggling to get by. Without any water or surviving crops, how can the community come together? Follow William as he learns how to build a windmill out of scraps and harness the wind to generate energy for his village. Watch The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind read-along.
"How to Code a Sandcastle" by Josh Funk, illustrated by Sara Palacios
Pearl and Pascal want to make the perfect sandcastle, but they keep getting interrupted! Pearl learns how to break down the problem step by step using coding concepts such as sequences and loops. This book introduces readers to the fun of coding. Here is a How to Code a Sandcastle read-along video.
"Doc Like Daddy" by Dr. Crystal Bowe, illustrated by Jajaf Thompson
Dr. Bowe shows readers how parents can serve as powerful role models. This story inspires children that they can be whatever they want to be! Watch this Doc Like Daddy read-along!
Come one, come all, to the Summer Reading Carnival!
Join Read to Succeed for spectacular fun at the 2021 Summer Reading Carnivals! You'll find book-themed carnival games, reading activities, a photo booth, temporary tattoos, music, foods, drinks, family literacy resources, and much more! These events are open to all families and children in the summer learning programs in each community.
Friday, July 23; 11am - 2pm
Arthur R. Edington Center
Saturday, July 24; 10am - 1pm
Wednesday, July 28; 10am - 2pm
Friday, July 30; 11am - 2p
Special thanks to our community partners who are supporting these events, including Buncombe County Libraries, Literacy Together, Children First (Communities in Schools), and Asheville City Schools PODS.
If you are interested in volunteering at the carnivals to help staff the games/activity booths, please sign up here: bit.ly/r2scarnival
Download, print, and share the flyer
Keep those phonics skills sharp and those reading muscles strong with these fun summer reading ideas! You might just spark excitement for even the most reluctant readers.
The English language is based on an alphabetic code that children must learn to unlock to be able to read. Understanding that words are made up of sounds and those sounds can be represented by one or more letters is a basic building block of essential phonics skills.
Multi-sensory phonics activities that help kids practice building words together go a long way to strengthening decoding skills and supporting automatic word recognition. Check out these six fun ways to practice word building with kids!
1. Really Great Reading Free Letter Tile Board
Visit Really Great Reading line to access a free online letter title board. Available in your web browser, the free tile board can be used on most digital devices and even offers digraph combinations and colors for added support.
2. Post-it notes!
Keep it simple with small sticky notes, markers, and a manila folder! Write consonants in one color and vowels in another so they stand out.
This super multi-sensory activity takes play-doh fun to the next level. Roll out dough, create letters, then smash them all together and start again!
4. Toy Blocks
Legos and blocks aren't just for building bridges, castles, and toy cities - they can also be used to practice building WORDS! Give your kid's toys double duty with a little phonics flare.
5. Clothespins & Popsicle Sticks
We love this word build idea from Parents Homework Hub! A few popsicle sticks and some clothespins can go a long way to helping kids strengthen their fine motor skills and practice building words and reading. Check out Parents Homework Hub for supply lists and instructions for creating this word build activity.
6. Magnet Letters (and Nonsense Words!)
Kids practice phonics skills with real words and nonsense words that follow decoding principles. Magnet letters are fantastic because they can be used on magnet boards, refrigerators, magnetic baking sheets, you name it!
How does your child like to practice word building? Leave a comment below to let us know!
8 Great Free Reading Apps for Kids
Vocabulary Jar - Fun Family Literacy Idea
15 Fun Ways to Weave Reading Into Family Time
Read Aloud Tips for Young Readers (And Their Parents)
35 Things Kids Can Read That Arenât Books
Our incredible partners at The Hop Ice Cream in Asheville are spreading the love of reading with families in our community through their weekly "Breaking and a Book" events. Join The Hop Ice Cream co-owner, Greg, for a live break dancing session with his kids every Friday at 2:30p on Facebook Live followed by a fun read-aloud of a children's book. Watch, dance, and read with your family every Friday in April, and learn more about R2S while you're at it.
Each month as part of "Breaking and a Book," The Hop Ice Cream highlights a local literacy organization, and we are thrilled to announce that R2S is their featured partner for the month of April! In addition to sharing more about the work R2S does and encouraging folks to get involved, The Hop Ice Cream will also be donating a portion of proceeds from their online sales to R2S the week of April 19-25th.
Make sure to follow The Hop Ice Cream Cafe on Facebook to take part in the fun every Friday in April at 2:30pm. See you there!
Spring has arrived! Don't miss this go-to list of spring-inspired children's books by Black authors. Dream big, explore the outdoors, discover new adventures, and so much more.
"Sulwe" by Lupita Nyong’o, illustrated by Vashti Harrison
"Sulwe" tops our list due to its incredible reviews by charmed families -- and who couldn’t love a well-crafted storybook by the uber-talented Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o? Featuring stunning illustrations by Vashti Harrison, Sulwe has won multiple prestigious awards due to its message: “love the skin [you] are in and see the beauty that radiates within.” Listen to this free Sulwe read aloud, narrated by none other than Lupita Nyong’o herself.
"Where’s Rodney?" by Carmen Bogan, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Rodney daydreams all day about the small park between his home and school. Where is Rodney? He may be at home or school, but his mind imaginatively wanders outside, where he loves being the most. As if by magic, Rodney is transformed when he finally encounters a huge park -- a great, big park where he can peacefully be. Check out this wonderful "Where’s Rodney?" read aloud on YouTube.
"Tasha’s Voice" by Carmen Bogan, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
From the author-illustrator duo who created "Where’s Rodney?," the not-yet-released storybook "Tasha’s Voice" takes place at the same beautiful park. Tasha finds it difficult to speak at school, but does she find her voice once she discovers her love of the great outdoors? Pre-order Tasha’s Voice now from AALBC, whose mission is to “sell books by or about people of African Descent.”
"Water, Water" by Eloise Greenfield, illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist
Eloise Greenfield is an award-winning poet with a mission to write in "Water, Water" about all the delightful experiences kids can have when they discover and play with water -- whether this be indoor sinks or outdoor puddles and pools. This quietly philosophical book will encourage young children to appreciate and creatively think about water in new ways by following the journey of a playful child.
"Ty’s Travels" (series) by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Nina Mata
"Ty’s Travels" follows an imaginative, energetic young boy named Ty who uses his creativity and love of nature to explore the great outdoors and make new friends along the way. Ty’s unapologetic playfulness will encourage young readers to follow his fun journeys and learn how to use the power of their imaginations. Check out all the books in the series: "All Aboard!," "Zip Zoom," and "Beach Day."
"She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story" by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Don Tate
This nonfiction book follows Effa Manley (1897 - 1981), the only woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame for her executive work. Effa Manley spent her childhood watching the legendary Babe Ruth play in the Yankee Stadium -- and her adulthood breaking barriers by being the owner of the Newark Eagles. This book shows all girls and boys that they can and should shoot (or swing!) for the stars. Check out this awesome read aloud on YouTube.
"Your Name is a Song" by Jamilah Thompkins Bigelow, illustrated by Luisa Uribe
"Your Name is a Song" follows a little girl who is upset that everyone continues to mispronounce her name. On a walk back home, the girl’s mother teaches the girl that her name is beautiful -- and that names from all cultures are beautiful and lyrical. Will the girl be able to use this new information to teach classmates, teachers, and friends to start pronouncing her name properly? Watch this free read aloud.
"Max and the Tag-Along Moon" written & illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Max’s grandfather promises young Max that they both see the same moon at night -- and that the moon will follow Max all the way home. Max worries once clouds roll through the sky to cover up the moon, but learns something about his grandfather along the way. Watch this read aloud on YouTube.
"The Other Side" by Jacqueline Woods illustrated by E.B. Lewis
With beautiful, fluid watercolor illustrations by E.B. Lewis, "The Other Side" tells the story of two young girls: Clover, who lives in the Black side of town, and Anna, who lives in the white side of town. Despite Clover’s mom warning her of the dangers of crossing the fence, will Clover find a way to develop a friendship with Anna? Watch the read aloud here.
"Bird" by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Shadra Strickland
Mekhai, called Bird by his late grandfather, uses drawing to create freedom and security as he copes with his grandfather’s death and brother’s addiction. "Bird" is the recipient of multiple awards and deserves to be read this spring due to its discussion on new beginnings. Check out the read aloud here.
Read to Succeed Asheville/Buncombe (R2S) is a local, independent nonprofit on a mission to close the