It’s National Library Card Sign-Up Month!

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It's National Library Card Sign-Up Month!

Posted by STAIR-Annapolis on September 15, 2021

September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month and there's never been a better time to show your local branch some love!

In our increasingly digital world, it can be easy to discount the importance of public libraries. After all, who needs books or magazines when most of us carry the entire internet around in our pockets? But our libraries provide so much more, and a library card is your ticket to it all!


Public libraries are free, for everyone. Every single resource, from books and magazines to music and movies, is offered to the whole community regardless of education, income, religion, political beliefs, age, or social status.


In many places, public libraries serve as support centers for the homeless and underserved. People in need can come to the library to seek shelter, to learn, to look for employment, or to simply pass the time with a good book. Right here in Anne Arundel County, our very own Discoveries: The Library at the Mall has recently opened a community pantry, where families in need can pick up diapers, wipes, and personal hygiene products.


Libraries provide an economic boost for local communities by making space for telecommuters and job seekers, offering free resources for small business owners and entrepreneurs, and hosting free events to teach people about financial literacy, estate planning, and more. Libraries can also improve the physical well-being of patrons through free fitness classes, healthcare resources, and health-related information.


Our littlest learners can also reap the many benefits of the local library, even if they're still too young to read independently.

Why do kids need libraries?

  • The pride and excitement that's evident when a child holds his or her very first library card.
  • Borrowing library books teaches kids responsibility and how to be accountable when entrusted with something that doesn't belong to them.
  • Having a library card makes kids feel a part of their community.
  • The freedom to browse the shelves and choose any book that catches the eye are two of the most essential rights of every reader, young or old.
  • Regular visits to the library can spark a lifelong love of books and learning in even the most hesitant reader.

Our friends at Anne Arundel County Public Library have made it easier than ever to get a library card--you can apply right online! If it's been a while since you paid a visit to your local branch, it's a great time to get reacquainted. There's so much to discover at your local public library!

A September Reading Challenge

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A September Reading Challenge

Posted by STAIR-Annapolis on September 1, 2021

What better way to ease back into the routine of a new school year than with a Back to School reading challenge?!

For many students, this September marks the first time they've been in a school building in nearly two years. That's a long time away from the classroom! Meeting students where they are and recreating a love of learning will be keys for educators this year, and this month's reading challenge is all about low-pressure pleasure reading.

Daniel Pennac's "The Rights of the Reader" is widely regarded as a roadmap for helping striving readers develop a natural love of reading. It reminds us all that the freedom to explore is a crucial part of the reading adventure for everyone!

The Rights of the Reader

1. The right to not read.

2. The right to skip pages.

3. The right to not finish.

4. The right to re-read.

5. The right to read anything.

6. The right to escapism.

7. The right to read anywhere.

8. The right to browse.

9. The right to read out loud.

10. The right to not defend your tastes.


Remember: The only "right book" is the one that your child is reading right now! 

For a simple September reading challenge that's easy to adapt to any age, reading level, or genre preference, follow the list below. One book per week, every week this month:

  • Read a book with the word "SCHOOL" in the title.
  • Read a book written by a teacher.
  • Read a book set in a classroom, at a school, or on a college campus.
  • Re-read a favorite book!

Good luck! We'll be back next month with a new reading challenge for you. Until then, keep reading!

What We Did On Our Summer Vacation

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What We Did On Our Summer Vacation

Posted by STAIR-Annapolis on August 18, 2021

We're halfway through August, which means September is just around the corner. As students and teachers across Anne Arundel County prepare to return to the classroom this year--some for the first time in nearly two years!--we want to pause and look back on our Summer 2021 initiatives.

Thanks to the generosity of our many donors and the unwavering support of many volunteers, STAIR-Annapolis was able to implement a full three months of programming that boosted "summer brain gain," kept students engaged in reading adventures, increased our outreach, and offered a helping hand to our valued community partners.

It was a great summer, but we're looking forward to our return to in-person programming for the 2021-2022 school year! Details are coming soon as we await guidance from our partners at Anne Arundel County Public Schools. Be sure to check back often and keep an eye on our calendar for the latest news.

We mailed more than 1,000 books to students in June, July, and August. All 120 second graders enrolled in this year's STAIR At Home program received monthly packages filled with age-appropriate, diverse books throughout the summer.

We hosted four successful STAIR Book Fairs, giving away dozens of free books to young readers throughout Annapolis and in South Anne Arundel County.

We partnered with community organizations like Reading Camp Maryland and Reading Camp South County to gift books to students participating in their summer programming.

With the help of our wonderful volunteers, we made sure Little Free Libraries in the neighborhoods where STAIR students live were stocked with books for readers of all ages. In all, we visited a dozen Little Free Libraries in Annapolis, South County, Crofton, and Severn.

We participated in several community events, including a regular weekly booth at the SoCo Farmer's Market at Deale Library, a stop at the Shady Side 4th of July Parade, and a visit to National Night Out, where we had a great conversation with Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman. STAIR-Annapolis Program Manager Julieta Slattery made sure every young reader who stopped by our table got to choose a book to take home!

Encourage Young Readers with a Welcoming Literacy Space

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Encourage Young Readers with a Welcoming Literacy Space

Posted by STAIR-Annapolis on August 11, 2021

Getting your child to willingly read a book at home can be a struggle. With distractions like TV, video games, outside play with friends, and after-school activities, how can books compete?

For lots of families, the answer is to create a warm, welcoming space that invites kids to engage with books and encourages literacy, even if they don't sit still long enough to finish a whole book or aren't quite ready to read independently yet.

The Benefits of a Designated Reading Space

  • Helps make reading a relaxing, enjoyable part of your family's daily routine
  • Sends a clear message about the importance of reading
  • Shows kids that reading can happen anywhere, not just at school
  • Invites kids to explore books on their own time and at their own pace
  • Offers a great alternative to screens and can help cure "I'm bored!"-itis

Tips for Creating a Welcoming Literacy Space in Your Home

Your reading nook doesn't have to be fancy--or even very big--in order to benefit the young readers in your life. A comfortable chair in the corner of the family room, a bean bag or a few pillows stacked in a corner, or even a blanket tucked into a closet are all great ideas for small spaces.

  • Make sure you include a comfortable place to sit and good lighting.
  • Use low shelves or a sturdy box to store books so kids can reach them easily and safely without help.
  • Repair or replace torn books.
  • Rotate books often to keep the selection fresh and ensure kids get excited about finding "new" books in their collection.
  • Create variety by including fiction and nonfiction books, magazines, even catalogs or newspapers that might capture your child's interest.

How to Stock Your Home Library

New books can be expensive, but there are lots of different ways to stock an amazing home library without spending a fortune.

  • Shop for books at yard sales and thrift stores.
  • Take advantage of Little Free Libraries in your neighborhood.
  • Visit your local library! Now that all Anne Arundel County Public Library materials are fee-free, you can keep books at home for longer without incurring late fines or penalties.
  • Search Facebook Marketplace or your local neighborhood buy/sell/trade groups.
  • Arrange a free book swap with neighbors, friends, and family. Everyone can bring their gently used books and kids will have a blast "shopping" for their home libraries.

For more tips and inspiration for creating a warm, welcoming reading space in your home, check out these links:

Creating a Home Library (Reading Rockets)

Build Your Own Home Library (Kids Read Now)

10 Creative Reading Nook Ideas for Kids (Lemon & Kiwi Designs Blog)

12 Ideas for Creative Reading Spaces for Kids (The Spruce Blog)

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An August Reading Challenge

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An August Reading Challenge

Posted by STAIR-Annapolis on August 4, 2021

As we head into the last official month of summer, August provides a chance to give in to a slower pace for just a little while longer. The busyness of back-to-school time will keep! So enjoy this final reading challenge of the summer.

Reading is one of the best ways to support "brain gain" over long school breaks. Students who read just a few minutes each day are more likely to retain more of the grade-level skills and proficiency they've gained during the school year. This establishes a good foundation for kids' return to school in the fall. You can read more about the benefits of summer reading for children here.

For a simple August reading challenge that's easy to adapt to any age, reading level, or genre preference, follow the list below. One book per week, every week this month:

  • Read a book in an usual place: under a tree, on a swing, poolside, at the beach, etc.
  • Read a book from the bottom of your "to be read" pile.
  • Listen to an audiobook of your choice while you do something outside, like taking a walk or gardening.
  • Read a "pandemic" book published in the last six months. 

Good luck! We'll be back next month with a new reading challenge for you. Until then, keep reading!

STAIR Supports Summer Brain Gain

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STAIR Supports Summer Brain Gain

Posted by STAIR-Annapolis on July 21, 2021

Hundreds of years of educational research have proven that kids need to stay engaged in some kind of learning over the summer. Long school breaks can be detrimental to the learning process, with some students losing as much as two month's worth of grade-level proficiency in core subjects. That's a lot!

"Summer brain gain" is aimed at providing children with educational opportunities throughout the summer months. Things like STEM and STEAM camps, school-sponsored programs, museum and library outreach, and outdoor educational programs all help kids stay engaged in the learning process while having fun and enjoying a well-deserved break from traditional schooling.

Programs like STAIR helps support brain gain by providing students with books and activities to help keep their literacy skills sharp over the summer. We've sent hundreds of books to STAIR students and given away hundreds more at our STAIR Book Fairs. We're also providing gifts of new books to other organizations like Reading Camp Maryland who are working hard to keep young readers engaged this summer. Our Little Free Libraries restock initiative ensures that readers of all ages have easy access to books close to home.

If your summer adventures have you sticking close to home, there's plenty you can do to support brain gain, combat summer skill loss, and have fun learning together!

  1. Give screens a break. Screen time has its place on long, lazy summer days, but simple creative play is an excellent way to get kids to imagine, think, plan, cooperate, and learn.

  2. Make an "I'm Bored" jar. Have kids brainstorm fun activities, day trips, or other summer treats and write them down on slips of paper. Any time you hear that dreaded "I'm bored!" pull a paper out of the jar.

  3. Get outside. Anne Arundel County is home to beautiful parks, walking and biking trails, beaches, and outdoor spaces. Pick a new one each week and explore!

  4. Go to the library! Visiting the library is one of the simplest ways to support summer brain gain. There's so much to discover at your local Anne Arundel County Public Library branch. Don't forget to register for the Summer @ Your Library challenge!

  5. Find a pen pal. Writing practice becomes less of a chore when kids have a friend to share their summer adventures with. Family members and friends near or far make wonderful pen pals who would love to send and receive drawings, postcards, and letters.

What are some ways your family is learning together this summer? Tell us in the comments or join the conversation on Facebook!