A June Reading Challenge

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A June Reading Challenge

Posted by STAIR-Annapolis on June 2, 2021

Here are some things we love about summertime:

  1. Sunshine and warm weather.
  2. Long days at the beach.
  3. Road trips.
  4. Ice cream, sno-balls, water ice, and frozen custard.
  5. Running through sprinklers.
  6. Backyard BBQs.
  7. Splashing in the pool.
  8. Bike rides and playgrounds.
  9. Bubbles and sidewalk chalk.
  10. More time to read!

Longer days means lots more time for books, and this month's reading challenge will encourage you to make the most of all those extra hours!

Our friends at Anne Arundel County Public Library are once again hosting an awesome summer reading challenge. The theme of this year's event is Tails and Tales, and we couldn't be more excited for all the great events the library has planned for readers of all ages.

Here's how it works:

  • Visit your local AACPL branch or register for Summer @ Your Library 2021 online. It's easy!
  • Set your personal summer reading goal.
  • Use the Beanstack Tracker app (it's free!) to record your daily reading log and keep track of your challenge activities.
  • Earn prizes! For reading!

Your local library has everything you need to get started on a summer reading adventure, as well as a full schedule of incredible virtual events all summer long.

Need some reading inspiration? Check out these recommended book lists from Anne Arundel County Public Schools!

2nd Grade Reading List

3rd Grade Reading List

Books for Early Readers

Books for Older Readers

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

STAIR At Home May Book of the Month: The Word Collector

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STAIR At Home May Book of The Month: The Word Collector

Posted by STAIR-Annapolis on May 19, 2021

Hard to believe, but it's time to introduce our very last STAIR At Home Book of the Month!

We've celebrated eight great months of reading with 120 STAIR At Home students and now we send them on their way to summer reading adventures with The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds.

Some kids collect trading cards or stickers. Some kids collect rocks or bugs. But Jerome has an unusual collection. Jerome collects words. He collects long words and short words, words he knows and words he doesn't, words that describe things and places and feelings. He even collects words in other languages. Jerome spends time with his words every day, thinking about their sounds and their meanings, letting their syllables roll off his tongue. He strings his words together, trying out unexpected combinations and exploring the ways his words change when he mixes them up. After a while, Jerome has collected so many beautiful words that there's only one thing left to do: share them with the world!

To learn more about The Word Collector, visit www.wordcollector.org

As our own young readers prepare to graduate from the STAIR At Home program this week, we salute their hard work and celebrate their accomplishments. It hasn't been an easy year, but these students and their families have remained committed to improving literacy skills at home and have done an amazing job!

To every 2020-2021 STAIR student:
Congratulations! Go out and collect your own words to share with the world!
On behalf of the STAIR staff and all of our volunteers, we're so very proud of you!
Keep reading!

Get Caught Reading!

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Get Caught Reading!

Posted by STAIR-Annapolis on May 12, 2021

May is Get Caught Reading Month and we're here to share some fun ways to celebrate the joy of reading!

This nationwide campaign was created in 1999 by the Association of American Publishers and is now managed by the nonprofit Every Child a Reader. Get Caught Reading aims to bring the fun of literacy and love of books to readers of all ages.

Set up a month-long family reading photo challenge. Snap a sneaky pic anytime someone is caught reading at home and count up the photos at the end of the month. The family member caught reading the most gets a special prize (maybe a new book...?).

Organize a neighborhood book drive. Send a message to friends and neighbors letting them know you're collecting new or gently used books for Get Caught Reading Month. Donate books to a local shelter, hospital, school library, or place them in a Little Free Library.

Challenge friends and family to Get Caught Reading in unusual places. Can your cousin climb a tree? Does your grandma grow a garden? Maybe your pal plays pickleball. Ask everyone to send you a picture of themselves reading in a strange or unique place: in the pool, on a boat, at a sporting event, up a tree (be careful!), in the garden...the possibilities are endless! Collect the photos at the end of the month and make a Get Caught Reading album to share.

The best way to celebrate Get Caught Reading Month, of course, is to GET CAUGHT READING! Bring a book with you wherever you go this month and you can get caught reading just about anywhere!

Got another great idea for Get Caught Reading Month? We'd love to hear it! Comment down below or find us on Facebook and tell us how you're celebrating the joy of reading this month.

A May Reading Challenge

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A May Reading Challenge

Posted by STAIR-Annapolis on May 5, 2021

May is a fantastic month to be a reader!

This month, we celebrate teachers and children's books, challenge ourselves to go screen-free (just for a little while...you can do it!), we honor Mother Goose, biographers, limericks, and cartoonists, AND we try to get caught reading!

Whether you prefer reading in a sunny spot or browsing a book in the shade, you're sure to find a great prompt or two in our reading challenge. Remember, our friends at Anne Arundel County Public Libraries are open again for in-person browsing so head to your favorite local branch to find your next great read. They've missed you! If you like to buy your books, you can support STAIR-Annapolis just by shopping on Amazon. Simply visit smile.amazon.com and select Start The Adventure In Reading (STAIR) - Annapolis as your preferred charity. You'll enjoy all the same Amazon products, prices, and fast shipping you're used to and STAIR will receive a portion of your purchase price at no extra cost to you. It's such an easy way to make a big difference.

For a simple May 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:

  • For Screen-Free Week (May 2-8) // Read a book about television, film, or computers.
  • For Teacher Appreciation Week (May 3-8) // Read a book with the word "TEACHER" or "SCHOOL" in the title.
  • For Children's Book Week (May 3-9) // Read a children's book you loved when you were young. Younger readers can read their favorite picture book!
  • Get Caught Reading! (all month long) // Read a book in a public place: at the park, in the grocery store, in the breakroom, at a restaurant, outside a coffee shop, at school...

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

Thanks from STAIR At Home

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Thanks from STAIR At Home

Posted by STAIR-Annapolis on April 28, 2021

Not long ago, we reached out to STAIR At Home families to ask them what they think of this year's modified program so far. We know nothing can replace the one-on-one interaction between students and tutors during our typical in-person programming, but the students have truly benefited from the efforts of our volunteers--all the story videos, literacy lessons, live Book Clubs, and Pen Pal letters have really made a difference, as you can plainly see from the testimonials below.

As we close out Volunteer Appreciation Month, we wanted to take a moment to share some of the wonderful things STAIR At Home families have to say about how much STAIR volunteers have meant to their kids this year.

While we may not be able to celebrate you all in person, we want each of you to know how important your participation and support from the sidelines has been to the success of STAIR At Home. So much of the good that's come from this crazy year is because of you, and for that, we're so grateful.

We'll see you again soon!

"My daughter is very happy and likes everything about the program and everything that she does with the volunteers, who she loves."

"He likes it very much, and thank you for the dedication to each one of the children."

"Thank you, and bless you."

"This is so kind. She really loves the books and letters."

"My daughter Genesis has loved and continues to enjoy participating in the STAIR program. As a mother, I have found it to be a magnificent program and I can see my daughter has learned so much.

Thank you to all who work so hard and participate in this program so that my daughter can continue to progress. Thank you for your help."

"Adrian loves the books, Pen pal, and Book Club."

"We look forward to the monthly books and packages. It's a blessing to have these resources offered to our children in need."

"My son Indigo and I absolutely LOVE the Very Short Stories to Read Together book. Wow! Wow! Wow! He kept wanting to read more. Hooray!"

STAIR At Home April Book of the Month: Harold and the Purple Crayon

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STAIR At Home April Book of the Month: Harold and the Purple Crayon

Posted by STAIR-Annapolis on April 21, 2021

This month, STAIR At Home students and Book Club volunteers are reading Harold and the Purple Crayon. Published in 1955, this timeless classic has helped generations of children discover the beauty and power of their own imaginations.

One night, young Harold decides to go for a walk in the moonlight, but there's no moon! He brings along his favorite purple crayon and draws himself an entire world full of wonder and adventure. Harold and his crayon travel through the forest, across the sea, and even past a fearsome dragon before going back home to a nice, warm bed. This delightful story is full of fun twists and surprises, and STAIR students have really enjoyed reading and discussing the book with our volunteers.

Harold and his beloved crayon represent the boundlessness of a child's imagination, so it may be surprising to learn that Crockett Johnson, Harold's creator, spent the final decade of his life making art defined by the precision of advanced mathematics.

Johnson had built his career as a popular cartoonist and children's author/illustrator. It's tempting to see his work as simple or minimalistic, but Johnson was actually a meticulous planner, even in drawing his Harold books.

"Each book is in fact one giant drawing that Johnson figured out in advance, and then had Harold draw, revealing his progress a page at a time. Harold does not erase, and only rarely crosses out," says Philip Nel, who maintains an extensive website dedicated to the life and work of Crockett Johnson.

After the publication of his final Harold book, Harold's ABC in 1963, Johnson turned his attention to the world of fine art. In 1965, he began work on a series of paintings inspired by the laws of geometry and mathematics.

Using an old math textbook, Johnson painted equations and mathematical proofs in bright, geometric representations. Because he wasn't an experienced fine artist, he used materials he could find easily, like boards made of pressed wood and house paint mixed at the hardware store.

Despite not having any formal mathematical training or advanced education, Crockett Johnson was eventually able to publish two original mathematical proofs in scholarly journals just by experimenting with math problems through his artwork.

“He would paint versions of a problem until he arrived at a solution, and when he arrived at a solution, he would correspond with mathematicians to try and get the algebra,” says Nel.

By the time of his death in 1975, Johnson had produced more than 100 mathematical proof paintings. Much like his illustrations for the Harold books, he intended for the paintings to be viewed as a single, cohesive piece rather than a collection of separate works. He also never sold a single one.

Today, most of Crockett Johnson's mathematical paintings are held in the collection of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. You can view them here.

Artwork: Proof of the Pythagorean Theorum (Euclid), Crockett Johnson, 1965.
Source: "The Artful Precision of the Creator of 'Harold and the Purple Crayon,'" Atlas Obscura.