August 2022 Newsletter

A Message from Our Executive Director
The consequences of poor literacy skills are devastating and yet we know how to prevent them
  • 75% of state incarcerated adults can be classified as low literate.
  • It is estimated between $106–$238 billion in health care costs a year are linked to low adult literacy skills. 
  • About 16% of children who are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade do not graduate from high school on time – a rate four times greater than that for proficient readers.
I could keep going, but sadly, I think my point is made only too clearly: the longer we let a student struggle with reading, the more dire the consequences for not only that student but society as a whole. 
The good news, however, is that we have quick and easy assessments that can be administered in the early grades (starting in Kindergarten) to identify students who would benefit from extra support. Providing these assessments, delivering extra support, and regularly monitoring each student’s progress can quickly avert the consequences of poor literacy skills.
Reading Allowed not only provides customized structured literacy interventions for individuals of all ages who are struggling with reading, we also work in schools to assist with administering assessments, providing small group and individual instruction, and closely monitoring progress. In this way, Reading Allowed can change the trajectory of many lives and prepare our society for a brighter future.
Thank you for your continued interest,
Angela Marks
Executive Director
Reading Allowed
Literacy is a Social Justice Issue
Wednesday, October 26, 2022
We are honored to announce that WHYY on-air host Avi Wolfman-Arent will be the moderator for our panel discussion, “Literacy is a Social Justice Issue,” on Wednesday, October 26!
This event will take place in the Skyline Room of the Free Library of Philadelphia and will also feature Free Library President and Director, Kelly Richards, as well as Hilderbrand Pelzer III, award-winning educator and author of Unlocking Potential: Organizing a School Inside a Prison.
Stay tuned for additional panelists and registration details.
Reading Allowed is the Recipient of
an HDR Foundation Grant
HDR Foundation
Reading Allowed is the recipient of a generous grant from the HDR Foundation! The support will allow Reading Allowed to work with struggling readers at Francis Scott Key School in South Philadelphia. Special thanks to HDR sponsor Joshua Marks for nominating Reading Allowed for this grant!
An employee-funded and employee-driven foundation, the HDR Foundation provides grants to qualified organizations that align with HDR’s areas of expertise: education, healthy communities, and environmental stewardship. Their website states: “We believe education is perhaps the most powerful tool for reducing poverty, improving health and advancing prosperity.” We couldn’t agree more!
Thank you, HDR Foundation!
Our Important Work Depends on
Your Generosity
The U.S. Department of Justice states, “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded in reading failure.”
The national reading crisis is much larger than poor grades and missing assignments. The effects it has on students last a lifetime. When reading deficits are identified early, they can be remediated with instruction rather than accommodations.  

Welcome New Staff Members!

Jen Curyto,
Program Manager
A lifelong Philly neighbor, Jen is joining Reading Allowed with over 20 years of teaching experience. Growing up in a family of teachers, a love of education and learning was practically genetic and her passion for literacy development led her to pursue a graduate degree in Reading Education and a certification in Wilson Instruction. Jen’s recent position as the Learning Specialist at a local independent school has grown her expertise in supporting teachers with the implementation of literacy curricula and providing instruction for individuals with reading deficits. For the past two years, Jen has followed the journey of Angela Marks and, inspired by the mission and growth of her organization, considers it a privilege to partner with the Reading Allowed team in their work in and around Philadelphia.
Kara Fisher,
Chief Operating Officer
Over the past 24 years Kara has served students, teachers, and administrators in the city of Philadelphia, supporting both elementary and middle schools, alternative education settings, as well as adult programming. She strongly believes that education is the door to success and reading is the key. The mission of Reading Allowed is completely aligned with her personal passion – unlocking student social-emotional, academic, and civic potential by improving literacy skills. In addition to identifying as an advocate and an educator, she is also a wife, mom, reader, writer, and nature photographer. She is currently studying the Science of Reading and the Science of Awe. She looks forward to seeing what an important impact Reading Allowed will continue to have on each of the communities and students we serve. She is tremendously thankful for this opportunity.
New Board Members Join Reading Allowed
Reading Allowed is pleased to welcome Natalie Wiltshire and John Santangelo to its Board of Directors. Natalie currently serves as Chief Operating Officer for KIPP Philadelphia Public Schools, a national, non-profit network of college preparatory, public charter schools that prepare students in North and West Philadelphia for success through college and life. John is currently a Senior Vice President of Finance for CrossCountry Mortgage Inc. (CCM), where he is responsible for all finance and accounting for lending branches along the east coast.
Both new appointees bring experience, knowledge, and networks to a dynamic group that will advance our mission to provide the highest quality structured literacy instruction to students in Philadelphia, regardless of their financial circumstances.
A Summer Conversation About Race
Reading Allowed tutors, employees, and board members attended “A Summer Conversation About Race,” facilitated by Toni Graves Williamson.  
Toni is a nationally recognized diversity practitioner and consultant and serves as Director of Equity and Inclusion at Friends Select School. A contributing author of White Fragility (Adapted for Young Adults): Why Understanding Racism Can Be So Hard for White People (Adapted for Young Adults), The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys, and Teaching Beautiful Brilliant Black Girls, Toni’s lifelong work with youth as well as her expertise in conversations about racial dynamics in education make her just the right person for our organization to delve into topics that will help us to understand how best to work with our students and families.   
Toni shared her knowledge with the group and also engaged participants in meaningful dialogue about the essential ways that we connect with our young people.
The School District of Philadelphia
Back-to-School Bus Tour
The School District of Philadelphia’s Back-to-School Bus Tour is returning to Philly neighborhoods this month. These events are a great resource, and provide the information you need to start the school year off strong and #RingTheBellPHL on the first day of school, August 29!
  • Get essential Back-to-School info
  • FREE backpack & school supplies
  • FREE immunizations at select tour stops
  • Register for PreKindergarten – 12th grade
  • Sign up for a Parent Portal account
Help us Fund Our 2022/2023 Goals
Why It’s Important to Read Non-fiction
Research has shown that young children often prefer to read nonfiction over fiction. Reading facts and stories about real-life topics is very exciting! Nonfiction also supports children’s learning in many
important ways:
  1. Nonfiction fosters critical thinking and information-gathering skills. Young children are full of questions, and our first instinct is to give them an answer. But if we say, “that’s a great question, let’s find the answer,” it teaches them to value investigation and research.
  2. Build vocabulary and language skills. Nonfiction books build children’s vocabulary and language skills because they introduce new words with images that support their meaning.
  3. Make real-world connections. Nonfiction books are great tools for making real-world connections to build on children’s knowledge and personal experiences. 
  4. Comprehend increasingly complex text. The format of nonfiction books includes features such as a table of contents, text broken into different sections with headers, and a glossary of important words. 
  5. Support study-related investigations. Age-appropriate nonfiction texts are meaningful resources that the children can revisit as they learn more and have new questions and curiosities.
Our Official August Reading Recommendations
By Victoria Grace Eiliot
(Grades 4-7) A trio of racially diverse dessert sprites cooks up an entertaining history of sweet treats in this graphic nonfiction title. Readers are treated to an overview of the history of desserts, insights into the science behind cooking and baking, and a few tempting recipes.

By William Kamkwamba
(Grades K-3) In his drought-stricken village in Malawi, Kamkwamba, 14, had to drop out of school, but he read about windmills in the library, and with scraps from the trash—including a tractor fan, a shock absorber, the frame of a broken bicycle, rusted bottle caps, and plastic pipes—he built a windmill tower that brought electricity to his village.

By Sarah Albee
(Grades 3-5) his book explores how the need for efficient sanitation grew with expanding and more concentrated populations. Beginning with the Roman Empire and its amazing feats of plumbing, the book chronicles the evolution of waste disposal in Western civilization.

By David Stabler
(Grades 3-6) When all-star athletes were growing up, they had regular-kid problems just like you. Baseball legend Babe Ruth was such a troublemaker, that his family sent him to reform school. Race car champion Danica Patrick fended off bullies who told her “girls can’t drive.” And football superstar Peyton Manning was forced to dance the tango in his school play.

By Christina Soontornvat
(Grades 3-6) June 23, 2018, in Mae Sai, Thailand, twelve members of a youth soccer team and their coach decided to explore a nearby cave after practice. After venturing several miles in, they found themselves trapped by floods caused by unseasonably early monsoon rains. The rescue would be nothing short of miraculous.

By Jorge Doneiger
(Grades K-3) Which weighs more, a pound of lead or a pound of feathers? How many ants does it take to steal a piece of cake? Life-size photos and a clever text explore concepts of size, measurement, time, and more.

By: Erica Perl
(Grades K-3)The Truth or Lie series is a great way to get your reader excited about nonfiction. A Truth Sleuth helps separate facts from fiction on subjects ranging from sharks and dinosaurs to presidents and inventors.

By Mikaila Ulmer
(Grades 5-8) At the age of four, Mikaila Ulmer was stung by two different bees within two weeks and became afraid to go outside.Her parents encouraged her to conquer her fear through knowledge. After learning that the bees were quickly disappearing, Mikaila decided to sell lemonade to raise money to save them. Now, the 15-year-old Austin, TX, resident is the director of Me & the Bees, a multimillion-dollar enterprise.
By Sandra Markle
(Grades K-3) What if you woke up one morning and your eyes weren’t yours? What if you had animal eyes? From the chameleon’s eyes that can point in different directions to the colossal squid’s eyes that shine in the dark, discover what it would be like if you had these special eyes — and find out why your eyes are just the right ones for you!

By Aliki
(Grades 1-3) From humble beginnings, George Washington Carver became one of the greatest scientists in the United States. His dedication to helping his people led him to find over three hundred uses for the peanut and over one hundred uses for the sweet potato.

By Jerry Pallotta
(Grades K-3) Polar bears can smell a seal through three feet of ice, while grizzlies can smell a dead animal ten miles away. But would this sense of smell matter in a fight?

By Laurel Abrams
(Grades K-3) Fu Manchu, a real-life escape artist, picks the lock on his enclosure and leads his fellow orangutans on a spree to the elephant pen. Zookeeper Jerry threatens to fire his staff until he discovers how Fu keeps doing it. 

Reading Allowed participates in the United Way’s Donor Choice Program. Our Donor Code is 55108
How are you doing on your summer reading list? Do you think you read five books ths summer?
Yes! we’re on track. No summer slide here!
I don’t think we’ll make it to five, but we’re trying!
Oh no. We haven’t started yet!
Have a story idea for a future issue? Just let us know!

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