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. 


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:



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. 


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. 

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! 
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.


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." 


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 


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.”

TAKE A LITERACY JOURNEY with Literacy Connections

We invite you on a literacy journey as we reflect and celebrate the ten year history of Literacy Connections of Wayne County 

WHERE did the idea of a literacy center come from?  In 2008 the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce’s Education Committee identified adult literacy as a critical need for the advancement of local workforce development in Wayne County. 

From there, United Way stepped up with initial grant funding to address that need.  A part-time Executive Director was hired in 2010 and the first agency operations started in a one-room space at the library under the financial umbrella of the Wayne Charitable Partnership.   Volunteer tutors were recruited and matched with adult literacy students similar to the way the program still operates today.

The literacy program outgrew the little space at the library and in 2012 moved further up Ash Street and settled into the old Nash Printing building.  A full-time Executive Director was hired along with additional staff to meet the growing need.    


With growth comes the need for additional funding, so in 2012 our signature annual fundraiser, Reading Between the Wines was created. This popular event has provided an intimate gathering with North Carolina authors every year since. 

A United Way initiative called Bank on Wayne brought program expansion once again in 2014 and with it an additional staff member. Literacy Connections began
another leg on our journey, this time in support of financial literacy. 

Literacy Connections established agency bylaws in 2014, filed Articles of Incorporation in 2015, and finally, in 2017 we set a course as our own non-profit out from under the Wayne Charitable Partnership. That was a proud moment!

Follow us as we share the journeys of four of our students, one each month and see how your support plays an important part in their success.  Until next time, together we are growing a literacy rich community! 

Literacy Connections was organized to provide and promote free literacy services in order for all adults to have the literacy skills to succeed at home, at work, and in our county. 


Original Post: June 12, 2020

This week's featured post comes to us from national marketing and communications associate, Paloma Mariz, from ReadingPartners.org. 

Kids and adults alike can experience higher levels of stress and anxiety as a result of current events and the state of the world around us. When we are bombarded with messages and images based on fear and uncertainty, we are more prone to experiencing physical and psychological manifestations of stress. 

Learning how to cope with stress is a lifelong skill. While adults and caregivers may have tried and true coping mechanisms to fall back on, kids are still figuring out how to navigate through their fears. 

One way for kids (or anyone) to de-stress, whether they’re living through a worry-filled world or not, is to read. This booklist can help kids better understand and address their feelings now and into the future. The books included here cover everything from fear to germs to the uncertainty of the future. Books like these can give young children the vocabulary to express themselves and their feelings about the world. They can also remind kids that they aren’t alone.

Share these books with your kids to help them cope with stress, fear, or anxiety.

~ My Hero is You ~

This story helps children understand and navigate a worry-filled world and learn how they can take small actions to become the heroes in their own stories. The new book is a collaboration of more than 50 humanitarian organizations. The book is aimed at children ages 6 to 11 years old and has already been translated into six languages to reach as many children as possible. Thirty more languages are in the pipeline, the release said.  Best of all, the book is available online in PDF form for free for families.

~ The Feelings Books ~

This book talks about all of the different feelings a person may have.  Author Todd Parr finds ways to make these feelings tangible to the youngest of audiences. He includes a message to kids that it is ok to feel any of the feelings and that they should always talk about how they are feeling. In this time of high stress, this idea of talking about how we feel is as important as ever for kids.

~ Ruby's Worry ~

A great book that shows how our fears or worries get bigger and grow when we keep them to ourselves.  Ruby learns that she is never alone and that everyone is worried or scared sometimes. The story is ultimately reassuring about what to do when a worry won’t leave you alone and would allow parents/caregivers the chance to open a dialogue about why children may be worried.

~ What Are Germs ~

A book for younger children about germs, how they can spread, and how we can take care of ourselves to stay healthy. This is a board book with over 20 flaps that young readers can lift and engage with as they are read to by a parent/caregiver.

~ Sick Simon ~

A great book for kids that shows how a sickness can spread—through being together, a hug, or eating together. In a time marked by fear of spreading germs or catching viruses, kids can feel empowered and in control through greater understanding.

~ The Dark ~

For children experiencing fear in a time of uncertainty, this book helps children understand their feelings of fear and the importance of confronting their fears. Lazlo, the main character, is afraid of the dark. Lazlo learns to talk to the dark, to ask questions, and how our fears can actually help us be brave. 

~ The I'm Not Scared Book ~

“Sometimes we are scared of things when we don’t understand them.  When you are scared, tell someone why.” This book illustrates how fear is perspective and how talking about what makes us scared helps us move forward. When kids may be scared of the unknown, this book will help open a conversation about how the things that scare us can get better and help you not be scared.

~After the Fall:How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again~

Looking towards the future and the unknown this book opens the door for conversation. Parents/caregivers and children can reflect upon the experiences and talk about how the future and their favorite activities may be different but that is a chance for new adventures and memories.

Hello Readers! Today we welcome the spring season, with a little poetry.

This video feature comes to us from the Favorite Poem Project founded by 39th Poet Laureate of the United States, Robert Pinsky. Though you may notice a snowflake or two, Mary Jane Doherty's meditation on The Snow Man by Wallace Stevens gives you a sense of stillness and peacefulness that is much needed during this hectic time. Enjoy! 


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 par...