What I Wish I Knew
I wish, when my daughter was very young, I understood all of the ways I could have helped her develop strong reading skills. I wish I had known the common signs of struggling readers so I could have responded when she began to struggle. I wish, when I went to the library, the librarian could have recommended books, strategies, and resources that may have helped.
“What I wish I had known” is one of the most common phrases you will hear from parents, teachers, or anyone who has ever known a child or student who struggled to learn read. This phrase even inspired our board member, Faith Borkowsky, to write a series of books for the literacy community. It’s a phrase about regret and hope. Regret that essential information was not more widely known, and a child suffered the consequences. Hope that Teach My Kid to Read will spread the word, so essential information about literacy becomes common knowledge and helps more of our children avoid the pain and embarrassment of not being able to learn to read.
If our new program, The Road to Decode, had existed when our daughter was younger, our lives could have been different. Perhaps a librarian would have told us about foundational reading skills that all children need to learn, and recommended activities we could try at home. Maybe when our daughter was struggling to learn to read a librarian could have recommended resources or approaches that Teach My Kid to Read recommends now for all children, especially children who struggle to learn to read.
What Teach My Kid to Read Has Accomplished
Last year Teach My Kid to Read partnered with nearly fifty libraries in New York and other states to help librarians provide better resources for families of early and struggling readers. We worked with volunteers, including parents, grandparents, and teachers, who have their own stories and want to make a difference. Through presentations, in-person meetings, and program materials, and with collaborators, we educated librarians about how we learn to read, and where the different resources, such as decodable or sound-aloud books, fit in the process.
Working in partnership with many publishers, we helped libraries obtain resources such as decodable books so they could create permanent sections for all readers. We offered support for those books and programs so librarians understood who they were for and how they worked. One hundred percent of the libraries we worked with said they would learn about or stock resources like decodable books after participating in our program! That was only the beginning.
Continuing to Serve
On March fifth we presented at the Southern Adirondack Library System children’s librarian staff meeting. The very next week, and in the midst of our advocacy work in support of New York dyslexia legislation, the pandemic changed our lives. Our spring presentations were canceled or postponed, and our on-ground programming became temporarily irrelevant. Public libraries, which we have partnered with as first responders for literacy information, are in transition themselves. State funding, which we hoped we could count on for some programming costs, is no longer available.
It would be easy for us as a new nonprofit to give up, but we’ve made a decision to lead and thrive however we need to so that our work continues to create impact. We are moving our training for librarians to online courses and virtual presentations. Through our partner libraries we are offering programming for parents to provide essential information that helps all children learn to read. We are supporting a free reading program through virtual presentations and phone conferences so that all children have an opportunity to practice essential reading skills.
The bottom line is that we are needed now more than ever. That’s what the librarians are telling us, and we believe it. We need your help to continue the work. If you have donated to food banks and other aid organizations so that people will have life’s physical necessities during the current crisis, wonderful! If children with learning differences fall farther behind because resources that could help them are not available, that will create a different kind of crisis with long-lasting effects. Why not also donate to Teach My Kid to Read to help avert that crisis?
Thank you for supporting Teach My Kid to Read. We wish you and those close to you well during this time of change and uncertainty.