This week we celebrate Maria’s ambitious journey to aim higher, gain independence, and achieve success in her career field through her work with her tutor, Dawn, to make her dreams come true. 


Maria grew up in Venezuela, where being outside your home, especially after dark, could be dangerous.  Despite the adversity, she went to college and graduated from the University of Carabobo in 2015. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Telecommunications Engineering and got a job programming.  As danger in her home country continued to increase, she, her mother, and brother decided it was time join family in North Carolina. 

Maria had some training with the English language during high school and college but did not have a lot of English-speaking experience.  She started in a beginner English class at Wayne Community College and quickly moved to a more advanced class.  Her teacher spoke to Maria of aiming higher and using her education to achieve her career goals.  She started taking Cisco classes and was referred as an intern to Literacy Connections to help improve her English language skills and to gain work experience.  After a few weeks, she was learning a new computer system, trying to perfect her speech but wanted more.  The staff worked with Maria to connect her with a tutor.  

Dawn, an experienced IT Director, had recently left the corporate world and was looking for a way to contribute to her community. Google and her love of reading lead her to Literacy Connections.  Seeing the similarities in their educational background the staff thought it would be a perfect match. They started working together by just talking about their lives and getting to know each other while Dawn corrected pronunciation.  They moved on to conjugating verbs, vocabulary lists, and grammar. As Maria’s confidence grew, they worked on resumes, job applications, interview skills, and studying for the driver license test.

In late summer 2018, she got a job as a waitress at a local restaurant.  She credits her employment to Literacy Connections as she had to speak English to all the customers and wouldn’t have been comfortable otherwise.  Maria waitressed for a year while still studying for her Cisco certification and saving money to buy a car. In August of 2019, she obtained a position as an IT intern working 24 hours a week.  She was able to leave the waitressing job and concentrate more fully on her Cisco education.

After working as an intern for seven months, she finally got the call from her dream employer, Cisco.  She aced the interview and was hired.  Due to the pandemic, she hasn’t been able to work in the office in Raleigh yet but works remotely from home.  She speaks English for nine hours a day and loves every second of it.  Maria says she wouldn’t have been able to achieve her ultimate goal without those months at Literacy Connections with her tutor.

 Now, more than ever, our community needs us, and we need Friends like you!  

Visit www.literacyconnectionsofwaynecounty.org

Open the door for individuals like Maria.

Seven Things I Wish People Knew About Parenting Kids With Dyslexia by Kristin Kane

Source: https://www.understood.org/en/community-events/blogs/what-i-wish-id-known-sooner/2017/03/28/7-things-i-wish-people-knew-about-parenting-kids-with-dyslexiaOriginal 

Original Post Date: March 2017

As a mom of two kids with dyslexia (and other learning differences)—and as a person with dyslexia myself—there’s a lot I’ve learned over the years. 

I’ve learned how to advocate for my kids. I now understand how to best work with their teachers. And I sometimes even have answers for those tricky questions about dyslexia that once stumped me. I’m truly no longer a newbie. 

Despite what I now know, however, I still sometimes feel misunderstood as a parent. There are times when I don’t want to have to explain what dyslexia is or what my kids need. But I still do explain, both to school staff and to other parents. 

Here are seven things I wish people understood about what it’s like to parent children with dyslexia. 

My kids have to work twice as hard just to stay afloat in school. 

For kids with dyslexia, reading is exhausting, writing is laborious, and spelling is downright torture. Each of these skills is required in every subject my kids have at school. Homework can take two or three times longer to complete than it does for other kids. Yet they tackle it day in and day out! I wish people understood how hard my kids work every day just to keep up. 

My kids have strengths that don’t show up in school. 

Our society has a very particular idea of what success is supposed to look like in the classroom. Kids are often graded by how fast they read, or by how many sight words they can spit out. Sadly, these are the areas where kids with dyslexia, like mine, struggle. And while they may read slowly, they have other strengths. For example, my daughter has an awesome ability to see something, describe it, and break it down in her mind. But in school, there’s often no measure of that skill. She doesn’t get the same opportunity as other kids to shine and be recognized for her visual strengths. 

They feel different from their peers every day. 

Just having an can make a child feel different. But it’s the day-to-day struggles that really remind my kids how having dyslexia sets them apart. Can you imagine watching an entire classroom finish an exam and realizing you’re only halfway through? Or getting only a third of the way through a reading assignment before a group discussion begins in class? These constant reminders of their reading issues weigh on my kids daily. 

It’s frustrating when teachers have little knowledge about dyslexia. 

Every year before school starts, I meet with my kids’ teachers. We discuss their special education services and learning differences. Between my two children, I’ve had this meeting nearly a dozen times. I’m thankful for the opportunity. But sometimes it’s exasperating. There are teachers who have very little knowledge of learning differences like dyslexia. I wish educators had better training about how to teach children with dyslexia. And I wish they better understood how dyslexia affects kids in every aspect of their school day. 

My biggest job is to be an advocate for my kids. 

We all have roles in life. I like to tell people that “my kids are my job.” If I seem overly focused on how they’re doing and not paying attention to other things, well, that’s my life’s work. I take my role as a member of the IEP team seriously. I’m an equal, contributing partner to my kids’ educational plan, and I’m there to help make decisions about what’s appropriate for them. I’m eager to share what I have learned and observed about my children with school staff. I don’t just want them to meet their basic needs. I want to help them strive for their highest potential. 

It was heartbreaking to watch my kids struggle at such a young age. 

As parents, we all want the best for our children. We want to see them be successful. We want them to feel the happiness that comes with achievement. I know life will eventually bring struggles to my kids, as it does for everyone. But I hadn’t expected those life struggles to start in first grade with learning to read. There are days when my heart is sad as I watch my children labor over a life skill like reading that others seem to have mastered with ease. 

My kids are the bravest people I know. 

Even for adults, it’s tough to speak up and draw attention to yourself when things are challenging. You have to know yourself very well and know how to put your strengths and needs into words others can understand. That’s tough for anyone. Now imagine how hard it is for kids. Self-advocating takes a lot of courage. Nothing makes me prouder than hearing my children speak up for their needs. They understand the impact of dyslexia on their schoolwork and assignments. They want to level the playing field for themselves. They know that with their IEPs, that’s their right. They have the courage to change an environment that may work just fine for other kids, but that needs to be tweaked for them. That’s real bravery.

FEATURED POST: Family Engagement During Remote Instruction of Students with Deaf-blindness and Multiple Disabilities by Sarah Steele and Julianne Lemman

This weeks featured post comes to us from Sarah Steele, a classroom teacher for students who are DeafBlind at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. She is passionate for family engagement and Social Emotional Learning for the field of DeafBlind education. Joining her is Julianne Lemman, also a classroom teacher at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, where she teaches students with multiple disabilities, including students who are DeafBlind. 

Source:https://www.pathstoliteracy.org/blog/family-engagement-during-remote-instruction-students-deafblindness-and-multiple-disabilities

Original Post Date: September 2020

During the last six months of online instruction, we have found that finding ways to support families of students with multiple disabilities or deaf-blindness is the key to success.


Acknowledge Different Levels of Support at Home: Find out if an Intervener is available.  

For students who are DeafBlind with multiple disabilities, interveners are wonderful supportive roles to explore. Some families may have access to an intervener who has a previously established relationship and experience working with the student prior to the pandemic altering so many plans. Other families may have a family member who is able to work as an intervener role for the student in their family who is DeafBlind. However, many families are without this support currently. 

                    
~ Don’t know what an intervener is? ~
You will find several informational links at the below site:

Provide families with information and resources to connect with others.  

There are a variety of scenarios that families are faced with during this difficult time. Every family is different. Each student needs and benefits from levels and types of support that are unique to them based on their level of dual sensory loss and the accommodations defined in their IEP. It is okay to be different, and to need different types or amounts of help. Finding out where to get that help often feels difficult, and there are support systems for families to connect together and share ideas. 


Find out what additional services your student may be eligble for.  

I found myself unsure of which waivers one of my students was currently being served on, and which waivers this student might be on a list for. I contacted the social worker assigned on my student’s educational team to connect with the family to help facilitate this conversation and seek more information as I was concerned for the access to educational experiences and for the many things I knew the family was balancing. Knowing what waiver programs a student may be served on can help to learn further about what types of services may be available to further assist families and their students.

~ Visit the Paths to Literacy Website ~
Learn more about this topic at:  

    A LITERACY JOURNEY: Brittany's Story

    Literacy Connections recognizes our programs often work best when we partner with other organizations working toward similar goals.  The partnership between the Bank On Wayne program and Habitat for Humanity clearly illustrates that it does indeed take a village!  This is how the journey of prospective Habitat homeowner, Brittany, brought her to Literacy Connections.

    A long time renter, Brittany dreamed of owning her own home and investing in her future with real assets. With only her income to depend on, she knew this was a lofty goal, so in 2018 she filled out an application for Habitat for Humanity.  Initially, she was denied because her debt-to-income ratio was too high.  Not to be deterred, Brittany found another stream of income and addressed the problem.  She reapplied in 2019, and SUCCESS!  This time she made the cut.  All prospective Habitat homeowners must complete eight hours of financial education through Bank on Wayne as part of their required sweat equity. Brittany signed up and enthusiastically participated in the classes, eager to learn about budgeting for home maintenance, as well as new strategies to add to her existing budgeting skills.

    Shortly after completing Bank On Wayne, Brittany’s brand new home was completed.  Her home was dedicated on June 11, 2020, and she proudly received her keys.  Recently, the new homeowner stopped by the center to provide an update on how she is using her newly acquired skills.  She is saving each month to create an emergency fund and making decisions on home maintenance, such as paying someone to mow her lawn or investing in a lawnmower.  She no longer has a landlord to call.  It’s all on her.  

    She also mentioned employing some of the energy savings tips discussed, such as setting the thermostat at a consistent temperature and not leaving lights or the TV on when not in use.  Even though her new home is energy efficient, every little bit helps.As expected, Brittany is eager to fill her new home, but she is careful to plan her purchases and avoid impulse buys.  She learned from Bank On Wayne that before making a purchase, she should consider the cost of the item and divide by her hourly wage to calculate the number of hours of work needed to buy the item.  

    Sometimes, the purchase is just not worth it.  Brittany said the most useful thing she learned was the importance of tracking her daily spending, even the small, seemingly insignificant things.  This really allows her to see where her hard-earned money goes and to make changes if needed.  Brittany also talked about the importance of having a built-in pause to prevent her from impulse purchases.  So, what’s her pause?  Call Mom!

    Brittany said she would recommend Bank On Wayne to anyone hoping to purchase a home, not just participants in Habitat for Humanity.

    This self-sufficient, hardworking, young lady’s journey is just beginning as she works to build a future of financial stability.  Next up for Brittany is her four year degree in Human Resource Management.

    Friends like you open the door for people like Brittany. 

    Visit www.literacyconnectionsofwaynecounty.org 

    Together we are building a literacy rich community. 

    FEATURED POST: THE LETTER A by Darren Sardelli

    Source: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/145937/the-letter-a

    This week our featured post comes to us from Darren Sardelli.  Growing up, he wasn’t a big fan of reading and writing, and he would rather be riding his bike or playing hockey with his friends. During his junior year at Loyola University (Baltimore), everything changed. Darren picked up a few rhyming poetry books and was instantly drawn in. He started writing as a hobby and fell in love with it. After graduating with a degree in business management, Darren decided to make writing poetry for children a priority. 

    The letter A is awesome!

    It simply is the best.

    Without an A, you could not get

    an A+ on a test.

    You’d never see an acrobat

    or eat an apple pie.

    You couldn’t be an astronaut

    or kiss your aunt goodbye.

    An antelope would not exist.

    An ape would be unknown.

    You’d never hear a person

    say “Afraid” or “All Alone”.

    The A’s in avocado

    would completely disappear

    and certain words would be forgot

    like “ankle”, “arm”, and “ear”.

     

    Without the A, you couldn’t aim

    an arrow in the air.

    You wouldn’t ask for apricots

    or almonds at a fair.

    Aruba and Australia

    would be missing from a map.

    You’d never use an ATM,

    an apron, or an app.

    The arctic fox and aardvark

    would be absent from the zoo,

    and vowels, as you know them,

    would be E, I, O, and U.

    There wouldn’t be an A chord

    on the instruments you play.

    Let’s appreciate, admire,

    and applaud the letter A!


    Learn more about this poet and many more visit:

    https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems


    FEATURED POST: THE POWER OF THE REREAD by Mara Franzen

    Original Post Date: September 24, 2020
    Source: https://bookriot.com/rereading-books-3/

    This week we are sharing a post from Mara Franzen. A writer and actor based in Chicago. 

    How many times have we as book lovers said, “I know I shouldn’t reread this book 
    when there are so many new books out there” or “I love this book, but I’ve already read it twice, I don’t want to waste my reading time”? 





    We’ve pretty much all been there. As lovers of books, we are at a disadvantage. Those who consume music or movies as their favorite medium have it a lot easier than we do. It takes just over 11 hours to watch the Lord of The Rings Extended Edition, and 40–50 hours to read them. This means you could consume the films 4.5 times in the same amount of time it takes to read the books; now factor in how many times you’ve watched those movies, and the time disparity only increases.

    I have watched LOTR probably a good 20 times, and have no qualms with rewatching. Rainy day? LOTR! Sick? LOTR! 20-hour international flight? LOTR! Never once have I seriously thought “Maybe I should stop watching these movies when there are so many other movies out there.” Movies are just so much easier for me to consume on a larger scale.

    I have only read the Lord Of the Rings books all the way
    through twice because it’s such a greater time commitment, and as we all know time is a precious commodity. As much as I want to reread LOTR for the third time, I can’t quite get over the guilt I’ll feel when I pass my stacks of books I haven’t read even once. Then there’re the other countless beloved books that I want to reread; the classics that I’ve only ever pretended to read; the books recommended by friends that I say I’ll get to soon (but probably won’t)…it’s a lot.

    So I instituted a rule. Every year, I would reread one series that I loved as a young reader. At first, I was worried I would run out of series to choose from. I should not have worried at all! In fact, every year, I have to narrow down my options because there are just so many! This year, after much thought, I went with the Inheritance Series by Christopher Paolini. I loved it so much in middle school, and it felt like I just needed to read about some dragons.

    A few weeks ago, I pulled a move straight out of the Middle School Nerd Handbook and stayed up all night reading. I made a pot of coffee, piled blankets and snacks around me, and didn’t sleep until I had read Eragon cover to cover. And while I was bleary-eyed and out of it all the next day, I felt so refreshed. I got to spend time in a world I missed, and enough time had passed that it felt like reading it for the first time. As I read, I got to fangirl and feel angsty and dramatic without feeling guilty. I got to remember why I loved fantasy so much, and not judge the use of tropes and cliches. 

    I read because I love to find stories that I will cherish. So why do I throw books I loved on the “have-read” shelf and leave them there? There are so many books and so little time, that’s true, but I’ll never get to read them all anyway, so why shouldn’t I spend time with the ones that mean the most to me? Of the 83 books I’ve read in 2020, there are so many that I wish I could read again, and get sad thinking about how it’s over. But, oh wait! I can be there again! I can reread it immediately! Or I can wait long enough that I forget the details, and get to rediscover it the next time around.



    I guess all I’m saying is, trust that you can reread, and be okay. Whether you read two books or 100 books a year, you can go back and reread. Reading isn’t a competition, there isn’t some law that dictates a minimum requirement for more books. Reading is for the reader, so read what you want, when you want, how often you want, and how many times you want. 

    FEATURED POST: STORYTELLING TIPS FOR FAMILIES by Aspen Mock

    Original Post: January 29,2020
    Source: Excerpt is part of a larger article featured on https://ncte.org/blog/2020/01/storytelling-family-literacy/

    This weeks featured post comes to us from Aspen B. Mock, a teacher based in Sidman, Pennsylvania. Ms. Mock currently teaches Composition 9, Honors Composition 9 & AP Literature & Composition 12.

       
    An underused medium, oral storytelling offers rich opportunities for family literacy development. It encourages a literate family lifestyle by building a collection of stories celebrating shared experiences and providing topics for conversations and discussions. 


          
    TIPS FOR FAMILIES INCLUDE: 
          
    Make it an “experience.” 
    Build a memorable experience and detail practical ways to schedule storytelling time. For example, in my family we tell stories during dinner, which my 6-year old daughter calls “Dinner Stories.” You can tell stories whenever you have to wait somewhere, and can even have themed nights for storytelling based on holidays, seasons, or current events. Plan some and improvise others; it’s good to have a mix of both! 
         
    Co-construction. 
    Take turns as speaker and listener; build the story collaboratively. Encourage the use of detail, adding descriptive adjectives and vivid verbs as you journey through your tales. Asking questions throughout the narrative can be a helpful way to clarify, collaborate and build your stories in real time. 
           
    Preserve your “work.” 
    Play the scribe or use technology to record your stories, making paper or digital versions to preserve them. Typing out or recording a story as it is told and sharing it with other family members on social media can be great fun and involve others, and provides a built-in audience for storytelling. (One tech-savvy option is capturing a visual or digital story through a program like Adobe Spark.) Stores are meant to be retold—remember to revisit your stories and tell them again and again! 


        
    There’s an app for that!  
    Search out apps that will help you incorporate literacy activities into your daily family life. Your children’s teachers and librarians may have recommendations. For example, an app like ReadyRosie lets you search tutorial videos and implement family literacy activities depending on the ages and stages of your children, from infancy and up. When my eldest daughter was learning her colors, we wrote original poems together; she still joyfully revisits these poems in her journal.
       
    My family literacy experiences carried over into
    adulthood; during my first year of college, I transcribed our family tales into a collection entitled “Griosach,” an Irish word meaning “burning embers.” The tales my family grew up with, time spent with my grandfather Mac, and the warmth and imaginative elements of that little kitchen, are now preserved and shared as part of our family literacy tradition.
       
    I think of “Griosach” as a metaphor for the power of storytelling; if we fan the smoldering embers of our stories, we ignite the light and power of family literacy in ourselves and our community.

    A LITERACY JOURNEY: Mary's Story

    This month, let’s walk along with Mary, her husband Stris and their two school-aged sons on their journey to North Carolina, taking a leap of faith and following the promise of work. 
     
    Stris, a stroke survivor, cares for the boys, leaving Mary as the main earner for the family. The family began coming to Literacy Connections in the evenings to work on English and reading.  Their tutor soon recognized that both boys were struggling academically and would benefit from additional support.  Mary’s  four year old was quiet, and she was very concerned about him.  She was even worried about his hearing ability.  We reached out to the Partnership for Children and enrolled her son in the NC Pre-K program.  The pre-kindergarten experience provided assessments and support for the child and his family, and it wasn’t long before he was talking and socializing with other kids his age. 

    Mary was less concerned about her older son, but we could clearly see that he was worried about school.  A sensitive, curious child, he soaked up every bit of the
    Communities Supporting School’s Reading Buddies
    program at his school. Sadly, even with intervention, Mary’s eldest son did not pass third grade.  Failure is never a good feeling, no matter how positively  one tries to explain it. For any child and especially Mary’s child, failing a grade is devastating and extremely depressing. One evening during a tutoring session,
    Mary showed her tutor a large stack of papers that she had received from the school. The papers expressed
    concerns about her son’s grades and offered interventions to help him, but she could not read them.  Once the tutor helped Mary and Stris un
    derstand the information, the Reading Buddies program helped to ensure that their eldest son was enrolled in summer camp so he would be able to retest and have a chance to progress to the next grade.  This young man worked very hard all summer and was successful!

    As COVID-19 hit, the family faced a new challenge. Distance learning! Dad obtained internet and laptops for his two sons, and continues to work with a tutor to navigate his children’s education. Summer tutoring has involved learning activities that the whole family can do together to expose them to technology, reinforce foundational curriculum, and prepare them for another semester of distance learning. Their confidence in their ability to monitor and support their children’s learning from home has grown, even as they continue to learn as a family.  What’s on the road ahead for Mary, Stris and their two sons?  The possibilities are as boundless as their faith.  Mary’s family is now more prepared for the next steps along their journey as they travel toward better education, homeownership and financial stability. 

    When parents don’t read well there is a 72% chance that their children will struggle and the cycle repeat itself.   

    Learn how you can OPEN THE DOOR for students, like Mary and her family, by visiting www.literacyconnections ofwaynecounty.org . It's true what they say, “It takes a village to raise a child.” 


    "Now, more than ever, our community needs us. And we need FRIENDS LIKE YOU." 

    FEATURED POST: LIBRARY NOTE: WEEKLY READING TOGETHER AS A FAMILY by Amber Covington

    Original Post: August 9, 2020

    Source: https://www.salisburypost.com/2020/08/09/library-notes-weekly-reading-together-as-a-family/

    This weeks featured post comes to us from Amber Covington, the Technical Services Supervisor at Rowan Public Library. 

    As the summer days zip by, finding time to plan family fun is challenging. With the sizzling sun making the heat feel unbearable outside, families are staying inside, but children are itching to get outside to get active. There are various ways parents and caregivers can enhance their child’s literacy completing daily tasks together inside or outside.

    Family reading time is a great way to expand your child’s attention span while reading. Reading as a family helps children understand the importance of reading and how it is a part of everyday life. For younger children, consider reading picture books together or short chapter books with everyone taking turns reading aloud. For older children, find a quiet place in your home where each family member can curl up with their preferred book read or magazine for 30 minutes independently. Sometimes, allow your child to choose a book for the entire family to read aloud. Set up a time for family reading and make it routine on a daily or weekly basis. If you think your children are too old for this, consider checking out books in foreign languages and have your child test their language skills reading and comprehending easy picture books in a language they are studying in school.

    We all know that tablets and other mobile devices are used by children of all ages. If your child spends time listening to videos or recorded content, consider turning on the captions, live captions, audio descriptive or interactive transcripts. Children will notice the text will appear across the screen, but may actually begin to recognize words and begin to increase their vocabulary by seeing the word on screen being spoken by characters on screen. This can be a useful tool for students to learn to read or build their vocabulary, but it will also be an experience they could use later for a school assignment to ensure their digital projects can be accessible to visually impaired users.

    With the current global pandemic, families may be ordering more items online on a computer, phone or tablet. This is a perfect time for children to browse through images and select grocery or store items for pickup or delivery when you’re completing family shopping. Children get to practice matching words with a picture and associate words with their correct spelling. For older children, challenge them to review pages for accuracy within an app or website. This allows children to exercise their reading and comprehension skills by building a wider vocabulary while experiencing an everyday task of choosing food to eat or a household item.

    On the next car ride, have your child read logos, billboards and road signs. Children will begin to recognize colors and graphics, and associate items sold by these brands. While waiting in line at a drive-thru, challenge your child to read items listed on the menu out loud to help them speak and become familiar with their favorite foods. Have an older child? Teach them to read the road signs to begin their understanding of traffic flow rules of the road and pedestrian safety. One day, they may be working towards their drivers license, but we are all pedestrians everyday.

    Demonstrating to children how reading is a part of our everyday 
    lives will help them to grasp the
    importance of reading to 
    complete everyday tasks. 

    Check out the below resources for your family:
    (Library card may be needed, call your local library for more details.)


    FEATURED POST by Sandy Brannan

    No matter how old you are, reading is one of the best parts of life. Reading to children is incredibly important and should not be limited to their early years. It is also wonderful for them to have the opportunity to become independent readers.


    Teaching children to read is somewhat of a recipe that needs to be followed carefully. For example, you certainly don’t want to introduce digraphs before phonemes. There is no denying the need for structure, but I think sometimes we get a little off-balance when we think about the role of reading in the life of a child. After all, we really haven’t done anyone a favor if we’ve taught these skills without also introducing reading in an enjoyable way. Children might read because it is required of them, but they will only grow up to become adults who read by choice if we show them that it is a pleasure, not a chore. This can be accomplished easily by:

    1.     Steering children toward quality reading material.


    2.     Knowing enough about a child’s development             

            to introduce books which will not only entertain 

            

            them but make them feel successful as readers.


    3.     Giving them space to read as well as the 

            opportunity to choose whether a book is a good 

            fit for them or not.


    Children’s literature is such a foundational genre. When   

    we, as adults, go back and read our favorite stories or  

    books we remember from our childhood, we often find  

     treasures hidden on the pages. Consider E.B. White’s  

    Charlotte’s Web.To a child, it is a delightful tale about a  

    pig and a spider. But you can’t get past the first chapter  

    as an adult without realizing White had a much deeper  

    lesson to convey to us. The beauty of friendship, the gift  

    of sacrifice, and the legacy of family are among the  

    takeaways he shared with his readers when he chose to  

    write this amazing novel. Children need to learn  

    these lessons, and book sallow us to share them in a  

    gentle way.


    I believe children are intelligent and inquisitive. As writers, we owe it to them to write quality stories. These stories should be fun to read because a child’s main job is to play. They should have the chance to have questions stirred up in them while also making sense of their personal world and making discoveries about the world around them. Stories give us a chance to share all of this with children. What a huge responsibility and an incredible opportunity.



    I’ve been writing for a few years now, all adult fiction.

    Recently I decided to pivot a bit and write a children’s book. Years ago, I created a character, Boy Deer, for my grandson. Every time I told a Boy Deer tale, I was making it up on the spot. My grandson’s reactions always helped me as I created each scene. I’m currently taking these scenes, adding a few new ones, and weaving them all together into a simple chapter book. I want this character to have experiences similar to that of a preschool child. I feel it’s important for children to have someone to read about who has the same questions they have, who wonders about the same things they do, and who works through the same emotions that come from having new experiences just like they have going on in their own lives. If you really stop and think about it, everything is new to a child, and a lot of what they experience can be overwhelming. Stories are a way to let them know they aren’t alone and that their feelings are valid.



    A children’s book needs to have pictures. In fact, I believe wordless books are a great first experience for an emergent reader because he can learn to tell the story based on his prior knowledge as well as by using clues from the pictures to think through plot and characterization. Children also can gain a feeling of success as a reader before they have learned to sound out words or recognize sight words. But even when a child is ready for a simple book to read by himself, the pictures help the story come to life in his mind. This is my desire for every child who reads about Boy Deer. I’m excited to have a talented local artist working with me to create a chapter book with illustrations that will appeal to children who can read the book on their own as well as those who pick it up simply because the pictures are interesting to them.


    Being on the other side of reading has been quite exciting for me. As a child, the library was a place I visited often, enjoying the freedom of walking up and down the aisles and pulling books off the shelves to examine first the cover and then to open them to reveal the true treasure that waited for me on their pages. I sincerely hope The Adventures of Boy Deer will be a book that creates that kind of excitement. I want my characters to come alive, creating emotions in the readers that will stay with them long after the last page has been read. I hope this is a book that children will not only want to read over and over to hear about Boy Deer’s adventures, but one that will cause them to create their own. A child’s imagination is an important resource, and I’m grateful for my small part to help encourage it to grow.


    To learn more about Sandy Brannan, find her online at 

    https://sandybrannan.com/ 

    A LITERACY JOURNEY: Joshua's Story by Dawn Amory (Edited by Literacy Connections)

    Joshua, a tall, thick-bearded husband and father of three speaks freely about his life, his struggles and successes, with a New England tinged accent that
    betrays he is not from around here.  As a child, Joshua was smart but struggled in school with ADHD and had no support at home.  By the time he was in high school, he was kicked out of his house, quit school, and began working for a moving company.
    Now, he is a stay-at-home Dad while his wife runs a business to support the family. After realizing that the GED he obtained online was a scam, thoughts of his education began creeping into his mind, and he thought to himself...


     “Why complain when you can do something about it?”

     

    He was referred to Literacy Connections by Wayne Community College (WCC) and was connected with a one-on-one tutor. Anxious about coming in on that first day, he paced in the parking lot before getting the courage to enter the building.  But when he did, he says, the staff quickly put him at ease, and he left feeling optimistic.

     

    Joshua says his tutor was easy to work with and never rushed him. Literacy Connections allows the flexibility to figure out the student’s learning style and provides support and resources for the student and the tutor. Along with his confidence, his test scores rose. 




    After a lot of hard work, Joshua graduated from Literacy Connections at the end of 2019 and was in the process of transitioning to WCC when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. He confidently took on the role of teacher to his children, and at times even uses the same techniques that helped him learn.  After he gets his GED, Joshua hopes to enroll in the automotive program at WCC and open an automotive repair business with his father-in-law.  


    “Coming to Literacy Connections,” he says, “was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

    POSTS TO ENJOY

    This week we celebrate Maria’s ambitious journey to aim higher, gain independence, and achieve success in her career field through her work ...