Reading | St. Louis Public Radio


Using Black Children's Literature To Improve Reading

Dec 27, 2019
Tevin Wilson, a facilitator at Nine Network, and Angela Spittal, executive director of Ready Readers, talk with Confluence Academy-Old North first grade students Jermya Walker and Ziya Branom at the Believe Project reading room's grand opening on 12-19-19
Lance Thurman | The St. Louis American

Sixth grader Andre Turner leaned up against a wall-size mural of the new reading center at Confluence Academy-Old North.

His head rested on the “B,” about a foot taller than he is, that helped to form the word “Believe.” Turner was trying to stay out of the way as representatives from IKEA, Scholastic, Nine Network, Ready Readers and We Stories and leaders from his school district excitedly milled around the brand-new room.

When his fellow students return from winter break, they will be able to experience a quiet, relaxing reading room filled with black children’s literature and comfortable seating.

From left, Michelle Yepez, Paula Witkowski and Sarah Bartley joined Wednesday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s estimated that as many as 1 in 5 people around the world have dyslexia, a learning disorder that affects how one’s brain processes information about sounds and words. In the St. Louis region, some parents are pushing for more school resources and attention to dyslexia, and a Webster University seminar on the subject last week drew a sold-out crowd.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Webster’s Paula Witkowski, an associate professor of literacy and speech-language pathologist in the School of Education, as well as local parents Sarah Bartley and Michelle Yepez, who each have a child with dyslexia. They discussed the importance of early intervention and how people with dyslexia can thrive. The conversation also included contributions from listeners who called in to the show to share their experiences.

Setting children up for academic success is Annie Watson’s driving passion.

The Kansas City, Missouri, native is the director of early education and parent success at Turn the Page KC, a non-profit that aims to have all children reading at grade level by third grade.

Tricia Frank lays out books in community room of Woodhollow Apartments in Maryland Heights Friday, June 22, 2018. The Parkway North High School teacher delivers books because the nearby St. Louis County Library branch is closed for renovation. 6/22/18
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Tricia Frank’s car breaking down this spring was a good thing: Now she has more storage space in her new, larger vehicle.

Frank is using that new car to deliver books to four apartment complexes in the northern part of the Parkway School District in lieu of the St. Louis County Library branch, which is closed this summer for renovation.

Five-year-old Honore Locker colors alongside Maxi Glamour after Drag Queen Story Hour at St. Louis Public Library's Central Branch.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A group of drag queens in bejeweled ball gowns and stiletto heels brought unexpected glamour to storytime on Mother's Day weekend.

A rambunctious crowd packed into the auditorium of the St. Louis Public Library’s Central Branch on Saturday afternoon for Drag Queen Story Hour. The event, which aims to celebrate diversity and inclusion, drew more than 100 young children and their families.

Sidney Keys III, the founder of Books N Bros.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Earlier this year, we spoke with 11-year-old Sidney Keys III and his mother Winnie Caldwell about Books N Bros, a book club Keys founded to encourage boys to read.

LIndsey Noblott and Lisa Greening joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh to discuss a new St. Louis-wide literacy initiative launching this week.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Tomorrow, the first-ever St. Louis city and county-wide literacy initiative launches. The program is a collaboration between Ready Readers and the St. Louis Regional Early Childhood Council and it is called “Turn the Page STL.”

Sidney Keys III, the founder of Books N Bros.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

If you Google the terms “boys and reading,” you will find thousands of results laying out the state of the gender gap between boys and girls when it comes to reading and literacy. “The Boys Have Fallen Behind,” writes Nicholas Kristof. “Why Women Read More than Men,” says NPR.

The Cliff Cave branch of the St. Louis County Library system reopened on Sept. 21, 2016, after renovation work. That included the children's area, pictured here.
(Photo courtesy of St. Louis County Library)

Phase two of a project to replace or renovate 19 of the 20 St. Louis County Library brancheis set to get underway this month.

The first phase of what’s called the “Your Library Renewed” campaign included 11 projects throughout the county. Kristen Sorth, library system director, says that work cost about $58 million, which came from a 2012 property tax increase. Phase two will cost about $79 million.

Laura Polak and her niece Ruby take part in Lap Time at St. Louis County Library's Grant's View branch.
Provided | St. Louis County Library

Whether mom reads “Goodnight Moon” before bedtime every night for a month, or grandpa helps the kids check out seven new books each week, St. Louis County Library wants to make sure babies and toddlers are getting exposed to lots of different words.

To encourage parents to start reading to children early and often, the library launched a program Monday called 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis  author John O’Leary wasn’t supposed to survive the burns that covered 100 percent of his body when he had an accident at age 9. No one thought he would walk, write with a pencil, or play a piano ever again. O’Leary, now 38, is not only able to do those things, he also found love, married and fathered four children.

Children from a St. Louis classroom who participate in the Ready Readers program.
Courtesy of Ready Readers

In celebration of D.E.A.R., “Drop Everything And Read,” day on April 12, we are taking a closer look at the importance of reading and getting books into the hands of children.  

Ready Readers is a St. Louis-based nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring preschool age children from low-income communities to love books and develop literacy skills necessary to become readers when they enter kindergarten.

On Thursday, "St. Louis on the Air" host Don Marsh talked to Lisa Greening and Julia Auch of Ready Readers.


Children use a Little Free Library in North St. Louis.
Gina Sheridan

In celebration of D.E.A.R., “Drop Everything And Read,” day on April 12, we are taking a closer look at the importance of reading and getting books into the hands of children.  

Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization in Wisconsin that posts small mailbox-like structures in neighborhoods and fills them with free books. They’ve inspired a movement that has spread to cities throughout the country, including St. Louis.

Actor LeVar Burton is bringing Reading Rainbow back for the digital age thanks to a Kickstarter campaign.

To say actor LeVar Burton likes libraries would be an understatement. And it’s not just because he was the host of “Reading Rainbow” for 26 years.

“I love libraries. I think libraries are really underutilized national resources,” Burton told “St. Louis on the Air” producer Katie Cook on Tuesday. “Libraries ensure that all citizens in this country have access to the knowledge, the information. Libraries are sanctuaries. They’re like churches for me.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 18, 2012 - Raise your hand if you can tell me how many K-12 schools are using Accelerated Reader ™, a reading and assessment software package produced by Renaissance Learning™, a company owned since 2011 by Permira Funds, a U.K.-based global private equity management firm with about $20 billion in assets.


This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 15, 2010 - Yesterday, I found out how to use my iPad to read borrowed books from the St. Louis Public Library.

I bought an iPad when they came out, and I love it. While it does a lot of things pretty well, one of the things I like it most for is reading. Reading much of the Web, reading blog posts, reading articles long and short and even reading books.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 25, 2011 - Nick Matteucci was in third grade when his teacher reported that he was slow learning to read and not writing well. The teacher suggested he might have an attention deficit disorder, but because his IQ was high and he was not yet behind grade level, the school was not ready to test him.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 24, 2010 - Missouri doesn't have to hide the reading report card it got on Wednesday.

When results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress -- the NAEP, often called the nation's report card -- were released, Missouri was one of only nine states that showed significant gains in reading among eighth graders.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 27, 2009 - Tucker the golden retriever probably couldn't hear much of Sarah Gunter's quiet-as-a-mouse reading from "The Cat in the Hat" Monday at the Buder branch of the St. Louis Public Library, but he nestled contentedly next to the 5-year-old throughout her recitation, save for a few wags of his big bushy tail and an attempted kiss or two.