STAIR Summer Reading

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STAIR Summer Reading

Posted by STAIR-Annapolis on June 16, 2021

Summer is the perfect time to relax and unwind with a good book, and STAIR-Annapolis has planned lots of different ways to help kids keep reading this summer!

The STAIR Summer Reading program was designed to support "brain gain," the idea that simple educational activities like reading and writing can make it easier for elementary school students to stay academically on track over the summer months and return to school in the fall ready to learn. We know STAIR-Annapolis students have made serious progress in their reading during the school year, so it's important that our summer programming gives kids plenty of opportunities to build on that awesome growth.

This year, we're bringing back three popular summer reading initiatives and adding an exciting new component to our programming!

All 120 students enrolled in the 2020-2021 STAIR At Home program will continue to receive packages of brand-new books for home libraries throughout the summer. Students are already enjoying June's direct mailing, and we have even more great books and activities headed out in July and August. These book mailings are the cornerstone of STAIR Summer Reading, made possible by the generous financial gifts of many donors. Our summer book selections include early chapter books, graphic novels, and nonfiction titles to help our rising third-graders continue their reading adventures all summer long!

Little Free Libraries are a wonderful community initiative meant to give readers of all ages easy access to books close to home. Each LFL is independently maintained by individuals, families, schools, or civic organizations and neighbors are invited to "take a book, leave a book" anytime. Once again this year, STAIR-Annapolis staff and volunteers will be restocking Little Free Libraries in the neighborhoods where STAIR students live. By ensuring these free library kiosks are always full of great books, we can help provide support to readers young and old.

Community partnerships are so important to the success of our organization and we're very fortunate to have built strong relationships with so many amazing groups doing awesome work for local kids. We're proud to support our friends at Reading Camp Maryland again this summer, providing these fun word search books and highlighters to add to their students' reading packages. Reading Camp Maryland's goal to help striving elementary readers improve their literacy skills over the summer is in perfect alignment with our mission, and we're thrilled to have the opportunity to give this small gift to further their efforts.

Finally, we're so excited to introduce our newest summer initiative: STAIR Book Fairs! Our great friends at the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis and the City of Annapolis have enthusiastically allowed us to host three free book fairs for young readers at community centers this June. We'll be at the Eastport Community Center on June 22, the Robinwood Community Center on June 23, and we'll be part of a community-wide event at the Stanton Community Center on June 24. We have thousands of brand-new books packed and ready to give to kids of all ages to support their summer reading adventures. We're so grateful to HACA and the City of Annapolis for embracing our idea and for providing the space and logistic support we needed to launch STAIR Book Fairs. It's going to be a great week!

To stay up-to-date on the latest from STAIR Summer Reading, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

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

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 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 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!

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.