Tag Archive for: Reading

What Are Your Book Recommendations?


 What books would you recommend for others to read? Do you have a favorite book or author? We asked the same questions on September 8th in celebration of International Literacy Day.

International Literacy is a day that was created by UNESCO (United Nation Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to raise awareness about the importance of literacy. For the last three years we here at The Literacy Cooperative, along with the Cleveland Public Library, Cuyahoga County Public Library and WKYC have conducted a social media campaign to celebrate the day. Each year we ask Greater Clevelanders to participate by posting a reading selfie with a book around a certain theme.

This year’s the theme was, “Recommended Reads.” We asked everyone to snap a picture of themselves reading a book that they would recommend others to read and then post it to their social media accounts with #CLEReads2016 and #RecommendedReads. Throughout the day we got a number of great pictures and some great book recommendations.

Cleveland mayor, Mayor Frank Jackson, recommended Listening In, The Secret White House Recording of John F. Kennedy, by Caroline Kennedy and Ted Widmer. Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish recommended, It’s All About Who You Hire, How They Lead, by Marten Mandel. We had council members take part as well. Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland recommended, A Fortune-Teller Told Me, by Tiziana Terzani. Even Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, Connie Shultz took part and recommended Dark Money, by Jane Mayer.

Everyone can use a new book to read or a new author to try. Take a look at the tables below for all the book recommendations from International Literacy Day. See if any spark your interest and add them to your bookshelf!

International Literacy Day was a great day to raise awareness about the crisis in adult literacy. However, one day is not enough do justice to this issue. Being a voice for literacy, early and adult, is something that needs to be done all year long.

This week (Sept. 26 – Oct 1st) is Adult Education and Family Literacy Week. It is a week to raise awareness about the need and value of adult education and family literacy.

Instead of recommending a book to others this week, try to recommend articles, blogs, websites, and research papers that focus on the need for advancing literacy. This week would be a great time to read up on adult education and family literacy; to learn why it is being done, what needs to be done, and the impact it has on every part of the community.

COABE’s (Commission on Adult Basic Education) site has some great research reports detailing the impact of literacy on the economy. They have a great section on Adult Education and Family Literacy Week with a number of statistics to share through social media and in communication to elected officials.

ProLiteracy is another site we recommend for learning about the needs and movements in adult education. Their site has a number of great resources and a number of white papers ranging in topics from “Literacy and Women’s Health,” to a “Workplace Literacy Guide.” They also have a blog where they frequently post about the impact of literacy and even student success stories.

Of course The Literacy Cooperative is a great resource that assists the community in advocating and advancing literacy.  Our website includes articles and links to the latest information and research on the best and promising practices for early literacy and adult education initiatives.  Be sure to check out our website.

Do you have any articles or website you would recommend for others to read and learn more about the importance of adult education and family literacy? Be sure to leave a comment with your suggestions below.  And be sure to share your recommendations on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with #CLEReads2016.

There is Still Time to Beat the Summer Slide

Summer Slide blogThe summer is winding down. How have you spent these warm weeks? On a family vacation? Taking walks in the park, playing at the beach? Going to festivals or amusement parks? How about reading together or doing a handful of math problems with your child once a day?

Don’t let the summer end without helping your child beat the Summer Slide. There is still plenty of time to prepare for the coming school year.

The Summer Slide refers to how over the summer months young people lose academic skills and progress gained over the school year. The Summer Slide particularly affects children of low-income families. During the summer, low-income students lose on average more than two months of reading achievement. By the end of fifth grade, low-income children are nearly three grade equivalents behind their higher-income peers in reading.

So, what can be done to defy these statistics and be prepared for the coming school year? Take a trip to the library and take out a number of books you can read together. Find books covering a range of topics from fiction to nonfiction. Spend at least 20 minutes a day reading these books together. It can be before bed, in the morning, during lunch or while in the waiting room of a doctor or dentist. Why not spend a summer afternoon reading outside in the shade of a tree?

Reading doesn’t have to be from a book. During breakfast you can read the back of a cereal box together. You can even use this time to discuss the nutritional information and talk about healthy eating. While you are driving you can read road signs. You can go over shapes and colors of the signs with younger children as well.

summer slide blog (books)    The summer is a great time to get children outside and active. You can create reading games, such as a vocabulary scavenger hunt. Label items throughout your yard or hide certain words in the trees and bushes. Have you child run about finding all the words and then use them to create sentences and stories. They are active and learning at the same time!

It doesn’t take much time to help your child to be prepared to start school. Reading with them for at least 20 minutes a day is a simple way to help fight the Summer Slide.


Reach Out & Read/Ready to Learn Program At MetroHealth Encourages Early Reading Habits

2016 marks The Literacy Cooperative’s 10 year anniversary! To celebrate this milestone, we partnered with the Cleveland Bridge Builders Class of 2016 to showcase community organizations across Greater Cleveland that have incorporated literacy-based programs into their scope of service during the past 10 years.  We asked them to write a post highlighting their journey, featuring their accomplishments, achievements and how they have helped the community learn and grow over the last ten years. We will be featuring the posts throughout the next few months.

This week’s guest post comes from MetroHealth Broadway Health Center written by Mahogani Graves; Site Coordinator. 

Metro Heatlh Reach out and read - child readingDo you love reading? Do you love children? Well, you’ll love the Reach Out & Read/ Ready to Learn Program here at the MetroHealth Broadway Center! Reach Out & Read/Ready to Learn was established in September 2014. Reach Out & Read/Ready to Learn encourages early reading habits with the parents and children through prescribing books to the families’ through child wellness visits. We have changed our waiting room into a “learning room”!

Metro Health -reach out and read (waiting room)While Reach Out & Read is a national program, our MetroHealth program at Broadway is unique because of our partnership with WVIZ ideastreams Ready to Learn program. Our volunteers engage with both the parents and children in the waiting room by using books, PBS Kids learning apps on iPads, and the PBS Kids TV Station.
Want to know why our program is so awesome? Within our first year, our program prescribed over 3,065 books during 3,000 wellness child visits.  We have had 38 volunteers, including 5 interns complete 1,452 hours interacting with patients in the waiting area. In addition to that, we’ve interacted with 1,824 children and their families alone. It’s so important to have dedicated people who care about our children and want to give back! We’re so proud to have had the opportunity to engage various people to invest time in their community.

Broadway MetroHealth has become a hub in this community. We see thousands of people each and every week. The opportunity that we have to make an impact in families’ lives is truly precious! We have been able to refer many families to neighborhood preschools to make sure that our young ones have a head-start to learning. Other resources related to afterschool activities, summer learning, housing and much more are all added components that we are Metro Health Reach out and Read- Booksable to provide our families day in and day out. The facts are, the challenges that our families face are multifaceted and if we can help to alleviate any issue we are doing a service to the community. That’s why our relationships with other community organizations are so important and is the reason why we have been able to really make an impact.

Learn more about MetroHealth Broadway Health Clinic on their website: http://www.metrohealth.org/broadway

Also be sure to follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

The Children’s Museum of Cleveland – Committed to Creating Lifelong Readers

2016 marks The Literacy Cooperative’s 10 year anniversary! To celebrate this milestone, we partnered with the Cleveland Bridge Builders Class of 2016 to showcase community organizations across Greater Cleveland that have incorporated literacy-based programs into their scope of service during the past 10 years. We asked them to write a post highlighting their journey, featuring the accomplishments, achievements and how they have helped the community learn and grow over the last ten years. We will be featuring the posts throughout the next few months.

This week’s guest blog post comes from The Children’s Museum of Cleveland written by Kelsey Tarase, Museum Educator.

Children's Museum - Future home

The future home of The Children’s Museum of Cleveland at 3813 Euclid Avenue

The Children’s Museum of Cleveland was established in 1981 by a coalition of parents, educators and civic leaders who were passionate about the education of young children and the whole family role in the education of those children. Over the past two decades, the Museum has evolved from merely providing outreach programs and one traveling exhibit, to being known as the only cultural and educational resource completely dedicated to young children in the Cleveland area. In the last ten years the Museum has welcomed an average of 100,000 visitors annually and is the only museum in Northeast Ohio that is devoted exclusively to children ages birth to 8 years old.

As we celebrate our success of the last decade we look towards to the next decade and the process of rebirth. In December 2014, the Museum purchased the historic Stager Beckwith mansion in the Midtown neighborhood of Cleveland for its first permanent home in its history. Due to its lease not being renewed, the Museum closed its University Circle facility on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016 and began to serve the community through a dynamic series of programs held throughout Northeast Ohio. These programs will continue until the renovation in Midtown is complete and the Museum is ready to open its new home to visitors.

Children's Museum - Hooked on Books

A Children’s Museum Educator leads “Hooked on Books” at our former University Circle Location

The Children’s Museum of Cleveland staff has embraced this transitional period as a chance to go back to grassroots efforts in engaging families within their own communities and promote learning through play. As The Children’s Museum staff ventures out across Northeast Ohio, we have found that the great connector among all people is a story. Stories are a great equalizer among families; when we start a lesson families may come from different educational, socio-economic, and cultural backgrounds, but by starting a lesson with a story we are creating an equalizer; we are allowing all participants to share in the experience given in that story. As the recently popular young adult author John Green states, “Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood.” Stories, such as the ones Green alludes to, have the power to create a level playing field and a mutual connection that can only be achieved upon sharing that experience.

Leveling the playing field and creating this mutual connection among families, through literacy programs is more important than ever. As a 2014 study by the U.S. Department of Education shows, only 20% of fourth-grade students from low-income communities read proficiently while 51% of fourth graders from higher income families read proficiently. This statistic shows that overcoming economic barriers is a critical point in equalizing the literacy proficiency discrepancies between families with different socio-economic backgrounds. Education standards being set now, such as those in the Third-Grade Guarantee, combined with the research on the importance of early childhood literacy and its impact on the individual’s literacy throughout their lifetime, has demonstrated that engaging parents and young children is critical in the creation of lifelong readers.

Children's Museum Renderings

Renderings of exhibit plans for the future home of The Children’s Museum of Cleveland

As The Children’s Museum staff commits to creating lifelong readers and engages with young children across Northeast Ohio, we teach lessons on phonemic awareness, site words, and reading comprehension. Through these lessons we are not only trying to pass on a bit of information to the child, but also engage the whole family in creating a meaningful experience that will open the doors for them to seek out literacy programs. The children’s author Emilie Buchwald said it best “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” The Children’s Museum of Cleveland has always been committed to the fact that the parent is a child’s first teacher. If we as a Museum can engage caregivers so that they view literacy positively and promote reading, then their children are more likely to become children who love to read. These children are better able to explore words and concepts and use language as a tool to guide their understanding of the world. As The Children’s Museum of Cleveland plans its’ exhibit space for its’ future home at the Stager Beckwith mansion, staff continually questions where there can be more spaces for parents and children to gather to share both oral and written stories – to communicate, learn and play with other Ohio families as they all connect together as one community, grounded in learning through play.

Ten years from now we see The Children’s Museum of Cleveland being a resource for families in Northeast Ohio and a center for learning through play. We see it as a great equalizer where all families can come to learn, grow, explore, read, and play together regardless of socio-economic, physical, cultural, and other barriers. We see it as a place where caregivers from across Northeast Ohio can bring their child and share stories of their childhood, their culture, and their experience with other families, and also create new stories together. As the Children’s Museum plans this museum for all Northeast Ohio families we want to know: what are the meaningful books you read as a child? What are the stories that have shaped your view of the world? What are the stories that The Children’s Museum of Cleveland must tell that will connect with families to create the next generation of storytellers?

Learn More about The Children’s Museum on their website: http://www.clevelandchildrensmuseum.org/.

Be sure to follow them on Twitter and Facebook.


Teaching Artists Help Bring Literacy to Life with Playhouse Square’s Third Grade Literacy Program

2016 marks The Literacy Cooperative’s 10 year anniversary! To celebrate this milestone, we partnered with the Cleveland Bridge Builders Class of 2016 to showcase community organizations across Greater Cleveland that have incorporated literacy-based programs into their scope of service during the past 10 years.  We asked them to write a post highlighting their journey, featuring the accomplishments, achievements and how they have helped the community learn and grow over the last ten years. We will be featuring the posts throughout the next few months. 

This week’s guest blog post comes from Playhouse Square  written by Daniel Hahn, Vice President of Engagement and Education 

Playhouse Square Third Grade Literacy Program (2)

Imagine you are back in third grade. The school year has been underway for several weeks, and you are excited about the opportunities ahead. But you find yourself struggling to keep up with the reading assignments. Much of the vocabulary is unfamiliar. The classroom texts are above your comprehension level. And the state of Ohio is now under the government mandate called the “Third Grade Guarantee,” which dictates that third graders who do not pass the state reading exam will be retained at their grade level next school year. Your teachers are making every possible effort, but your struggles continue. You are on the academic bubble, and could go either way.

In 2013, Playhouse Square anticipated this scenario, and began developing a program to address it. Two of the region’s top teaching artists, Melissa Crum and Eric Perusek, were engaged to work with three handpicked elementary schools from three very different regions: Crestwood Elementary, in the Elyria City School District; Denison Elementary, in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District; and Oxford Elementary, in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District. These schools all had one thing in common: all three had third grade reading scores below the state of Ohio proficiency passage level of 75%. In 2013, Crestwood had 62.7% of third graders passing reading. Denison had 48.2%. Oxford had 53.7%. The genesis of this new program was to see if bringing literature to life in the classroom using drama as a learning medium might help improve students’ reading abilities.

In the late summer/early fall of 2013, Melissa, Eric and I met with teachers and administrators from our selected schools, and began studying the school year’s third grade reading lesson plans and benchmarks. We started crafting drama-based activities to implement in the classroom. In that developmental year, Melissa and Eric visited each school’s third grade classes approximately once every third week, on a rotating basis between schools. After just a few visits, the teachers invited our guest artists to begin testing out interactive lessons in the classroom. The student response was overwhelmingly positive. Third graders who previously were withdrawn were now volunteering for parts to be dramatized in front of their peers. Vocabulary words were shouted around a standing circle as part of a theater warm-up game. Students encouraged each other’s efforts and validated their successes.

With generous support from The Nordson Corporation Foundation and The Stocker Foundation, Playhouse Square was able to fund not only the teaching artists in this initial year, but to supply costumes, properties, and books as well. Before long, every third grade student in each school had a copy of Kate DiCamillo’s award-winning novel, “Because of Winn Dixie,” and began acting out passages of the story in their classroom under the guidance of Melissa and Eric. Words which before were unfamiliar became clearer in the performing of the story. Student enthusiasm was high, and feedback from the teachers was extremely positive.

Playhouse Square third grade literacy program

Playhouse Square teaching artists Melissa Crum and Eric Perusek (photo by Daniel Hahn)

In that first developmental year, the teaching artists visited each school a dozen times, from September through May. Additionally, each school visit allocated planning time in the teacher’s lounge with the respective third grade teachers, to discuss upcoming lesson plans and strategize ways of deeply engaging the students. It’s difficult to ascertain whether or not the improvement in each school’s subsequent reading scores was directly related to this developmental year, but it is worth noting that Crestwood’s passage rate improved by 3%, Denison’s 7%, and Oxford’s 8% from 2013 to 2014.

After that initial developmental year, it was time to launch the pilot program in full. Beginning in the fall of 2014, instead of visiting each school just once every third week, the teaching artists visited once per week. This is a significant amount of time to ask a classroom teacher to allow guests to work in their classroom, so having the full support of the school team was essential. In addition to adding more classroom visits, a few other adjustments were made to the program in 2014-2015.

The teaching artists would now spend the entire school day at each school. Full classroom visits to each third grade class were scheduled, but in addition, Melissa and Eric would spend a second session with smaller groups of struggling readers, providing even more individualized, interactive instruction to reinforce the week’s lessons. Furthermore, Playhouse Square provided tickets and transportation for each participating class to attend performances of children’s plays at the Ohio Theatre in downtown Cleveland. For some students, this was their first ever experience attending live, professional theater. Student enthusiasm and teacher encouragement remained strong. At the end of the year, students at Crestwood Elementary performed selections from the year’s reading for their parents and families in the school gymnasium. It was a wonderful celebration.

Test results from this pilot year show varied outcomes. In part, this is likely because the state changed the reading test between 2013 and 2014, as Ohio opted for a more rigorous exam in the latter year, making a direct apples to apples comparison untenable. Other dynamics outside of the classroom environment also deeply impact learning, such as student transient rates, regional poverty levels, and  of course the group of students’ individual abilities themselves. Still, the numbers are worth noting. Below are the scores showing the ODE test results for Third Grade Reading in the three schools in which the program was implemented, as well as scores of other schools in those same districts for comparison.

All Elyria City Elementary Schools 2014 2015 Variance
Elyria Crestwood 65.8% 69.7% 3.9%
Elyria Ely 82.6% 68.7% -13.9%
Elyria Franklin 56.3% 45.1% -11.2%
Elyria McKinley 77.9% 73.2% -4.7%
Elyria Oakwood 72.4% 61.1% -11.3%
Elyria Prospect 77.8% 82.5% 4.7%
Elyria Windsor 75.8% 87.0% 11.2%
All Cleveland Heights Elementary Schools
Cleveland Heights Oxford 61.7% 66.7% 5.0%
Cleveland Heights Roxboro 89.8% 83.6% -6.2%
Cleveland Heights Boulevard 71.1% 69.6% -1.5%
Cleveland Heights Canterbury 91.0% 92.0% 1.0%
Cleveland Heights Fairfax 75.0% 70.0% -5.0%
Cleveland Heights Gearity 79.6% 59.2% -20.4%
Cleveland Heights Noble 69.7% 63.0% -6.7%
Sampling of CMSD Elementary Schools
CMSD Denison 55.3% 45.5% -9.8%
CMSD Charles Eliot 57.1% 50.0% -7.1%
CMSD Almira 58.3% 34.1% -24.2%
CMSD Franklin D Roosevelt 52.0% 27.5% -24.5%
CMSD Newton D Baker 53.3% 64.0% 10.7%
CMSD Patrick Henry 53.6% 62.9% 9.3%
CMSD Wade Park 52.5% 35.6% -16.9%
CMSD Watterson-Lake 52.2% 66.7% 14.5%
CMSD Walton 54.8% 54.8% 0.0%


As you can see, Denison’s scores dropped by over 9%. While similar CMSD schools dropped even more precipitously under the more rigorous exam, others stayed flat or even improved. This makes evaluating the results at Denison even more challenging. At Crestwood in Elyria, a nearly 4% testing increase is encouraging, especially in comparison to the other schools in the district. And Oxford Elementary in Cleveland Heights showed the strongest improvement of any school in its district.

Still,  a variety of conditions must be considered when looking at student learning. Playhouse Square’s Third Grade Literacy Program, now in its second year of full implementation, continues to make adjustments to maximize student learning based on in-classroom experiences and teacher feedback. With the continued support of our partners, we continue to work towards improving student learning.

Crestwood Elementary teacher Ann Coleman sums up her feelings about the Third Grade Literacy Program in this way: “Because of this program, my students are, without a doubt, better readers, writers, and communicators. Students are able to learn language arts in a creative, active, and meaningful way and have been able to apply the skills they have learned into other areas of the curriculum. I cannot imagine teaching language arts without this program!”

Learn more about Playhouse Square on their website: http://www.playhousesquare.org/.

Also be sure to follow them on Twitter and Facebook.