BB&T West Virginia Foundation continues to support Read Aloud Book Distribution programs

By Melody Simpson

The BB&T West Virginia Foundation has awarded Read Aloud a $2,500 grant to support book distribution programs throughout the state. BB&T has provided similar financial support for several years now, and we are grateful for the role they continue to play in helping Read Aloud maintain and expand its book distribution programs.

While West Virginia’s eighth grade reading scores still lag behind the national average, in 2015 they were the only state scores in the country to show a significant improvement, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Education in October 2015. However, too many West Virginia children lack access to the tools they need to succeed in school and in life, and books are one of the most important tools required for raising a generation of learners.

Read Aloud has several book distribution programs designed to address this need, including Snuggle and Read (preschool children and families), Reading Round-ups (kindergarten enrollment), Food for Thought (elementary schools), a summer reading pilot program, and even prison workshops and book clubs (to encourage adult inmates to develop reading habits and read to their children).

Thank you, BB&T, for supporting these programs and helping us put books into the hands, and homes, of West Virginia children!

Kanawha County Participates In Back-to-School Supply Drive for Flood Victims

The West Virginia Department of Education is leading a multi-county effort to help schools affected by the June flooding in West Virginia to replenish their lost supplies and provide needed materials for students. A Back-to-School Supply Drive will take place July 17-30 with collection sites operating throughout Kanawha County.

“Thousands of our children experienced the devastation of the recent catastrophic floods in our beloved state,” said State Board of Education member Beverly Kingery. “These children will soon return to school and many will return with few belongings and still much uncertainty in their lives.”

The goal of the drive is to provide each individual student in the severely affected flood areas with a book bag of school supplies. Organizers have set a goal of collecting 8,000 book bags with supplies such as pencils, ink pens and rulers.

A list of needed school supplies, grouped by grade level, is available on the West Virginia Department of Education website.

Collection sites in Kanawha County include the following locations during business hours:

After items are collected, they will be packaged by volunteers and distributed to affected schools as the new academic year begins.

More than 20 people died and thousands of homes, schools and businesses were damaged as a result of flash flooding that struck multiple counties in West Virginia in June. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has made federal disaster declarations for a number of counties.

The West Virginia Department of Education is partnering with Read Aloud West Virginia and West Virginia State University Extension Service to collect donations in Kanawha County.

For further details and a statewide list of collection sites, visit the West Virginia Department of Education website.

Turn summer slide into a springboard for family reading and bonding; key element? YOU!

By Nikki Moses

Summer slide, summer setback, dumber in the summer. Ask any educator, and you will find that a loss of reading skills among students can be as much a part of summer as baseball and ice cream cones; but, it doesn’t have to be!

Many children lose more than two months of reading achievement over the summer, according to the Campaign for Grade Level Reading. Some children do not.

Summer can be a time for reading adventures, trying new genres, family read-a-thons, camp outs with flashlights for reading, reading under the old apple tree, trips to the library followed by stops for ice cream…and reading skills can be maintained or increased.

What (or who) is the catalyst? YOU!

Take advantage of the summer break. Skills and drills, necessary to the educational process, can be left at school. Have fun. Be creative. Bond. Pick up a book that you have been meaning to read!

Read Aloud of Boone County takes story time live!

Read Aloud of Boone County is bringing live story time to a device near you this summer! Chapter President Jennifer Griffith is hosting the sessions on Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m. Children can tune in with their parents live or watch a recorded version on Read Aloud of Boone County’s Facebook page.

In this edition, Jennifer reads Hogwash by Karma Wilson. Tune in for more each Tuesday through June and July at 7:00!

Weimer Elementary scores a “hat trick” with morning muffins, donuts

By Melody Simpson

Becky Ryder, Read Aloud school coordinator and Title I reading teacher at Weimer Elementary School in Saint Albans, had three problems to solve: how to get her students more interested in reading, how to get books into their hands and homes, and how to get parents involved, both at the school and in their children’s success? Fortunately, she and the school came up with an innovative approach to address all three.

In January 2016, Weimer hosted a “Muffins with Moms” event one morning between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m., to catch moms (as well as grandmothers and other caregivers) as they were dropping off children at school. (Notices were sent home to alert them in advance.) On another morning in February, the school hosted “Donuts with Dads.” Both events were wildly successful, with 40 to 50 adults attending each one (counting the children, over 100 attended each event). The parents were welcomed and given snacks and drinks, and their children were permitted to choose a free book from a varied selection provided by Read Aloud. Parents then read the books to (or with) their children before the regular school day began.

“The first event was held in the school’s library, but we had so many attending it spilled over into my classroom,” Ryder commented. They moved the “Dads” event into the cafeteria to avoid this “wonderful” overcrowding problem. Ryder believes the timing of the events was key to their success. “When we’ve had family nights or PTO events in the evening, attendance has tended to be very low,” Ryder said. They were thrilled to have so many of the parents attending each event.

Ryder is passionate about making all Weimer students lifelong readers, but she recognizes that many of them face significant hurdles, not the least of which is simply the absence of books to read at home. She hopes to have some sort of book event once a month next year, if finances permit, during which students will be able to choose a book to take home. In addition, since many Weimer students do not live in traditional or stable housing, she plans to provide book bags to hold the students’ personal libraries. A Little Free Library was installed on the school grounds in May and Ryder also intends to request visits from the Kanawha County Public Library’s Bookmobile.

Ryder was extremely grateful to Read Aloud for the books: she commented the group even was able to provide her with books that were likely to appeal to men for the “Dads” event.  She hopes she can replicate the success of “Muffins with Moms” and “Donuts with Dads” next school year.

Melody Simpson is an attorney at Bowles Rice LLP, a volunteer reader and member of the Read Aloud board and newsletter committee.


Librarian Recommended!

Here are some favorite selections from Terry McDougal, Head of Children’s Services at Kanawha County Public Library

Pre-kindergarten to first grade

Henry wants more Henry Wants MORE! by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Brooke Boynton Hughes

Whether spending time with Papa, singing songs with Grandma, playing games with Lucy, or racing with Charlie, toddler Henry wears his family out until bedtime, when Mama is the one who wants more.


My Bike

My Bike by Byron Barton

Tom tells about his bicycle and riding by trucks, cars, even elephants, and his work as a circus performer.



Bee Dance


Bee Dance by Rick Chrustowski

A honeybee searches for nectar, then returns to the hive to tell the other bees. She does a waggle dance, moving in a special  pattern to share the location of the food. Vivid and active images bring these amazing bees to life!



Froggy Goes to the Library

Froggy Goes to the Library by Jonathan London,  illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz

When Froggy, Mom and Pollywogilina set out for the library, Froggy brings a wheelbarrow to hold all the books he plans to borrow, but he is so excited that he forgets to use his indoor voice.


One Big Family

One Big Family by Marc Harshman, illustrated by Sarah Palacios

A family reunion brings summer fun and adventures in this cheerful celebration of family ties and the joys of summer.


First and second grades


Max's Math

Max’s Math by Kate Banks, illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Max and his brothers drive to Shapeville and Count Town searching for problems, and are able to use their skills in arithmetic and sleuthing to prepare for a rocket launch.



Bike On, Bear!

Bike on, Bear! by Cynthia Liu, illustrated by Kristyna Litten

Bear is an extraordinary genius who can do anything except ride a bike. Can he get on two wheels?




Clark the Shark Afraid of the Dark

Clark the Shark Afraid of the Dark by Bruce Hale, illustrated by Guy Francis

At a sleepover, Clark the Shark braves his fear of the dark with the help of music and friends.




Dreaming Up

Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building by Christy Hale

A collection of concrete poetry, illustrations and photographs that shows how young children’s constructions, created as they play, are reflected in notable works of architecture from around the world.



The Quickest Kid in Clarskville

The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Frank Morrison

Growing up in the segregated town of Clarksville, Tennessee in the 1960s, Alta’s family cannot afford to buy her new sneakers—but she still plans to attend the parade celebrating her hero Wilma Rudolph’s three Olympic gold medals.



Mid to upper elementary

Trombone Shorty

Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews, illustrated by Bryan Collier

A 2016 Caldecott Honor Book and Coretta Scott King  award winner. Hailing from the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews got his nickname by wielding a trombone twice as long as he was high. Along with illustrator Bryan Collier, Andrews has created a lively picture book autobiography about how he followed his dream of becoming a musician, despite the odds. The book is a celebration of the history of New Orleans and the power of music.


One Today

One Today by Richard Blanco, illustrated by Dav Pilkey

A lyrical, patriotic commemoration of America from dawn to dusk and coast to coast.




Ira's Shakespeare Dream

Ira’s Shakespeare Dream by Glenda Armand, illustrated by Floyd Cooper

A biography of Ira Aldridge, an African American actor who is considered one of the greatest Shakespearean actors of the nineteenth century.



Fourth to sixth grades


The Treasure of Way Down Deep

Treasure of Way Down Deep by Ruth White

In 1954, when mine closings bring an economic crisis to Way Down Deep, West Virginia, Ruby Jolene Hurley makes a thirteenth-birthday wish to find the treasure rumored to have been buried by one of the town’s founders.





Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There’s no more money for rent, and not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Crenshaw is a cat. He’s large, outspoken and imaginary. He’s been gone for four years, but has come back into Jackson’s life to help him.