An October Reading Challenge

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An October Reading Challenge

Posted by STAIR-Annapolis on October 13, 2021

Though the days are getting shorter, there's still plenty of time to complete a reading challenge this month!

October is a time to welcome in the change of seasons. Cooler weather, colorful foliage, and longer evenings perfect for cozying up with a good book make fall one of our favorite times to get back into reading. As the hustle and bustle of summer fades away and we settle into the routine of a new school year, October was made for storytelling. 

This month also presents lots of opportunity to explore new authors and voices. Hispanic Heritage Month wraps up on October 15, just after the observation of Indigenous Peoples' Day on October 11. And of course there are plenty of tricks and treats to read about for those who celebrate the "spooky season" and Halloween!

For a simple October 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 by a Latinx author.
  • Read a nonfiction book about the Native American experience.
  • Read an anthology of scary stories.
  • Read a book set in New England (famous for its fall foliage!).

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

STAIR-Annapolis Annual Report 2021

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STAIR-Annapolis Annual Report 2021

Posted by STAIR-Annapolis on October 6, 2021

We're happy to share our 2021 Annual Report!

It's been a year full of challenges and opportunities. Like so many others trying to navigate the "new normal" brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to find creative ways to support and engage the students we serve as they embarked on a year of learning from home.

Thanks to the generosity of our many donors and the unwavering commitment of our amazing volunteers, we were able to meet students where they were last year and make a real impact in the lives of striving young readers in our community.

We have lots of good stuff to share. You're invited to review our Annual Report via the link below and see for yourself!

Make Reading at Home Fun for the Whole Family!

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Make Reading At Home Fun for the Whole Family!

Posted by STAIR-Annapolis on September 29, 2021

Even motivated young readers sometimes need a little encouragement to keep moving forward in their reading journey. The following tips from our friends at Scholastic are sure to go a long way in helping to make reading at home fun for your whole family!

1. Read a "just right" book.

Kids gain confidence when they read a book that closely matches their reading level. Books that are too easy quickly become boring, while books that are too hard can make kids feel overwhelmed and discouraged. To help your child choose a book that's just right, follow the Five Finger Rule: Open the book to any page and have your child read it. If there are more than five words on the page that she can't read, the book may be too advanced. Move that book to your "read aloud together" pile, and try another one!

At STAIR, we level and label every on-site library book so tutors and students are able to work together to choose books that are just right.

2. Read all around.

Use family outings or everyday errands as an opportunity to strengthen your child's reading skills. Browse the greeting card section at the grocery store or pharmacy, read roadside signs as you travel around town, or turn on closed captioning to encourage reading during screen time as you watch your favorite shows together!

All reading is good reading, and STAIR tutors use creative strategies, literacy games, and more to encourage students to read the world around them.

3. Use your words...with pictures.

Pictures can help developing readers improve their comprehension skills. Take some fun photos or cut images from newspapers magazines. Help your child write captions or speech bubbles to go with each picture. Assemble your graphic novel and read it together!

STAIR tutors and students often take "picture walks" through the books they read together, looking at a book's illustrations and discussing predictions about what might happen in the story. This pre-reading strategy--making connections between images and text--is an important component in reading comprehension development.

4. Don't forget the funnies.

Having kids read short bits of text is a great way to set them up for reading success. Comic strips are an excellent source for this kind of bite-sized reading practice. Share your favorite comic strips with your child, or browse the newspaper together to find ones you like best. Post them on the fridge or cut them out to make a comic strip scrapbook.

STAIR students and tutors often work together from a shared reading text. The tutor reads a line, then the student reads another. This kind of short, simple reading repetition helps kids develop stronger fluency and accuracy.

5. Study your favorite author.

As kids grow into new reading skills, they often gravitate toward a particular author or illustrator. Encourage your child to learn as much as possible about her favorite kid lit authors and illustrators. Help her do some research online, see how many books you can find at your local library or bookstore, or write a fan letter.

Author studies are just one way STAIR students are encouraged to explore favorite writers and discover new ones. Tutors and students work together to learn about an author's life and work, making connections with their own experiences.

An Important Program Update

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An Important Announcement from STAIR-Annapolis

Posted by STAIR-Annapolis on September 22, 2021

Dear Friends of STAIR-Annapolis,

We write to you today with another important program update.

The STAIR-Annapolis Administrative Staff and Board of Directors has made the difficult decision to postpone the STAIR tutoring program.

The STAIR staff and board will reassess the possibility of a return to in-person programming in January of 2022.

The health and safety of STAIR volunteers and the students we serve is our primary concern. We deeply regret that STAIR cannot confidently return to in-person programming this fall, and we share your disappointment in this unfortunate development.

Over the next few months, STAIR staff will continue working to prepare for a safe return in 2022. Our commitment to nurturing relationships with students, families, and our valued volunteers is unchanged.

Another thing that hasn't changed is our desire to meet striving young readers where they are in these uncertain times. That's why the STAIR Family Website is open and available to all. This wonderful resource includes videos, activities, and reading resources provided by STAIR-Annapolis volunteers. The STAIR Family Website helps families "Start The Adventure In Reading" at home. You're invited to visit and see for yourself at .

Your patience and support at this time are sincerely appreciated. While this is not the news any of us hoped for, we know STAIR will be back stronger than ever once the pandemic meaningfully recedes.

The entire STAIR-Annapolis Administrative Staff and Board of Directors sends best wishes for your good health and well-being.


Laura, Erin, Malena & Julieta
STAIR-Annapolis Administrative Staff

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!

Welcome, Deni Henson!

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Welcome, Deni Henson!

Posted by STAIR-Annapolis on September 8, 2021

STAIR-Annapolis is pleased to announce the addition of Deni Henson to our Board of Directors.

As an engaged community advocate in the greater Annapolis area, Deni comes to STAIR with a desire to impact the lives of local students. She is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Charles W. “Hoppy” Adams Jr. Foundation, an organization dedicated to implementing and establishing programs that support educational, social, emotional, recreational, and faith-based growth for youth and adults living in Annapolis and the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. metro area. Deni also serves as the current President of the historic Peerless Rens Club, a social organization that has been creating community in Eastport since 1948.

A mother of two and a former foster mom of 16, Deni believes that a well-developed love of reading can take you many places. She worked hard to teach her own children the importance of reading and now hopes to pass that along to a new generation through her work with STAIR-Annapolis.

“My favorite people are children, and anything I can do to help a child is where my passion lies,” Deni explains.

A native Annapolitan, Deni earned her BFA in Technical Theatre from Howard University and worked in radio and television for many years. She is also a screenwriter, a documentary filmmaker, and in 2016 was honored as a recipient of the Fannie Lou Hamer Award by the City of Annapolis.

In her spare time, Deni enjoys reading, writing, travel, and is an avid doll collector.

We’re so fortunate to have the benefit of Deni’s community-building expertise and are excited about the value she’ll bring to the STAIR-Annapolis Board!