Usborne Programs

Reach for the Stars!! Reading Incentive Program Summer 2017

I am launching a FUN reading-incentive program, Reach For The Stars!! This program is sponsored by the publisher Usborne Books and we ask that you encourage your children to participate.

The Reach For The Stars program will challenge students to read daily and reward them with exciting and fun books of their choice, to keep for their own. The student will also earn lots of books for their home library! We will begin Thursday, June 1, 2017 and carry on for THREE weeks (with a couple days of wiggle room to get yourself ready to encourage the children to read)!


Here’s how it works:

STEP ONE: Students will read as many minutes as they can for the next 2 weeks (if they are not reading yet, these are minutes that are read TO them). Students will record their minutes on the stars of the enclosed reading log. START READING TODAY!! We challenge them to read 300 minutes during the 2 week period!

STEP TWO: Help your child(ren) get sponsors to make a pledge to support their reading!! The more pledges they collect, the more books they will get to pick out. EVERY DOLLAR collected goes back to the student in the form of Usborne books. Your child will get 100% of his/her pledge money in Usborne books of his/her choice! The other 50% of the pledge money will go to a local non-profit for children in foster care. This is a 100% return and a win-win for everyone!!

STEP THREE: Go for the $100 Challenge!! If your child collects $100 or more in pledges, he/she will also receive a BONUS KID KIT (see page for details – link will be updated).

STEP FOUR: Turn in the reading log and pledge money from Monday, June 26th. (Reminders will be sent via email, text, and social media). Please make checks payable to: Rachael Harris.

STEP FIVE: Students will pick out their books (equal to 100% of the pledge money he/she collected) by Wednesday, June 28th. You and your child can view the books online at and start a wishlist on the website (or a piece of paper). Please include at least three alternate choices on your wish list.

STEP SIX: Stay updated! 25% of what your children raise will go to children in foster care! (For those of you who have different information about how much will go to foster care, I had the number incorrect — this is the correct number! The kids are going to love their books!)

See more details and script here!

NOTE: Students will receive their books within 2 weeks of the shopping day!

Thank you for supporting this highly rewarding reading-incentive program! Together we can encourage the joy of reading in all our children!


Using Literacy Tools to Teach Diversity

We want our children to grow up loving all races, genders, partner choices, etc. We want them to be accepting of children and adults who are different from them, right?

We want them to know they have choices and voices for their bodies and lives. We want them to know that it is okay to see differences, but not okay to bully people for being different. We want to start showing them life tools for this NOW!

One way to do this is to allow them to take charge of their play and model the type of behaviors you’d like to encourage in your children (consider making a list or journaling about this to be intentional as a parent)! Here are some tips for how to support play.

(See also: “Children ages 3 and 4 are certain about their own gender and have firm beliefs about the differences between males and females. They develop a sense of acceptable behavior from the adults around them.”)

Here are six more tips for how to facilitate the learning of racial inclusion!

9. Plan for a marathon, not a sprint. Make race talks with your child routine. Race is a topic you should plan to revisit again and again in many different ways over time. It’s okay to say, “I’m not sure” or “Let’s come back to that later, okay?” But then be sure to come back to it.”

This means as long as you talk about and read storybooks to your children about sexuality, race, and other topics of diversity, you are doing enough!

Here are literacy tools to help this conversation:

Children’s Books about Families

Children’s Books that Include Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Families

Children’s Literature With Racially Diverse Characters and Themes:

  • Beautiful Moon (2014), by Tonya Bolden. Illus. by Eric Velasquez.
  • Black Cat (1999), by Christopher Myers.
  • Brothers & Sisters: Family Poems (2008), by Eloise Greenfield. Illus. by Jan Spivey Gilchrist.
  • Goggles (1969), by Ezra Jack Keats.
  • Honey, I Love and Other Love Poems (2002), by Eloise Greenfield. Illus. by Jan Spivey Gilchrist.
  • The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen (2014), by Thelma Lynne Godin. Illus. by Vanessa Brantley-Newton.
  • Magic Trash (2015), by J.H. Shapiro. Illus. by Vanessa Brantley-Newton.
  • Subway (2008), by Anastasia Suen. Illus. by Karen Katz.
  • Thanks a Million (2006), by Nikki Grimes. Illus. by Cozbi A. Cabrera.
  • Those Shoes (2007), by Maribeth Boelts. Illus. by Noah Z. Jones.

Tips for Selecting Diverse Children’s Literature:

  • Base your selection on quality. Books should not just teach a lesson but should have a good story, high-quality text, and engaging illustrations.
  • Choose books that help children see themselves. Include books that mirror different aspects of identity (e.g., race, setting, beliefs) of children in the class, so that they can imagine themselves in the story.
  • Choose books that help children expand their understanding of others in this multicultural world. Include books that introduce children to new people, places, and concepts that they may not yet have encountered.
  • Look widely for texts. Be alert to new titles related to diversity. In addition, the library can be a great source for out of print titles that appeal to children and relate to urban issues and diversity.
  • Use text sets. Expose children to different perspectives. These book collections may be organized by theme or may feature the work of a highly accomplished author or illustrator of color. Great picks for books by Black writers and artists include those by Christopher Myers, Floyd Cooper, Jacqueline Woodson, Ashley Bryan, Jerry Pinkney, Brian Pinkney, and E.B. Lewis.

What are some struggles you face in regards to diversity?

Expert Tips

SCREEN-FREE Week Activities

SCREEN-FREE Week Activities (and literacy suggestions from my Usborne bookstore!)



Here are some fun things to suggest this week when your littles are tempted to turn on the screened devices in your home!

We watch TV almost daily in our home. We do, however, try to set clear and consistent boundaries about how MUCH television is on during the day/week.

One thing I find super helpful is this website: This helps us keep our screens safe. It isn’t a fail-proof method, but it HELPS!

I am excited to try some of these things out when my kids want to turn to the screen!

I hope you and the children in your life have fun this week!