Beth Bradford

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Reading to our children has always been a part of our daily flow.  In fact, one of the first things my husband and I did to prepare our hearts for our firstborn son was to visit Barnes and Noble children's section and take a visit down memory lane with all of our favorite pastime book titles.  We purchased a couple that day and officially began our children's home library.  Over the years, we have come to cherish the time we spend together reading.   We go on adventures, address hard topics, learn new things and share many giggles as we change our voices to match the character's or switch a word to Spanish and read the entire book that way.  I mean, who else hasn't read Curious George and the man with the yellow sombrero? 

 

It wasn't until my friend Gwen asked me to edit some of her writing on the impact of literacy that I really began to understand the significance of our simple home reading routines.  The statistics were staggering, and I began to see that, along with intentional faith practices, real food, and good sleep routines, a love of reading was also critical as an area to continually foster growth and development in our boys. During the summer of 2020, when I 

I was seriously considering staying home full time with our children soon after our third son was born, I attended an Usborne party and took a leap of faith to become a consultant with the company.  Over a short few months of active involvement, I found out just how rewarding it was.  I have helped hundreds of children receive books to fuel their curiosity, sense of adventure, and education in a time when that kind of growth is so needed.  I have used many of these books as part of our personal homeschool adventure with my oldest, who began Kindergarten this past fall, and we love being able to curate our homeschool with these books as one of our resources.  

 

I appreciate that Usborne books capture our kids' attention in a world with so much noise.  They will read the same one again and again like meeting an old friend for a play date, and we get to help the book come alive for them with our voice to narrate the stories or explain the nonfiction books adding in our own personal stories.  I've been able to tackle early reading / phonics, addition facts, science topics and so much more by simply spending time reading together.  It has taken a ton of pressure off as I homeschool Kindergarten for the first time.  I now can see that God led me here as a way to lend me a hand when I definitely needed one.  

 

Reading together has proved to be so influential to our kids and to us that I honestly couldn't imagine our world without it!  This time has become a shelter for our hearts and minds as we process through life together, and I want to share that with families everywhere.  You don't need an elaborate library.   You just need a handful of good books, a comfortable spot in your home, and a routine half hour or so to dive in.  It is so worth it!

Melissa Pickrell

God sent me hope when I was seven years old. 

 

My family was poor, and we moved a lot. At the age of seven, my family moved to a small, poor town. Luckily, this town belonged to an outstanding educational system. Within the first 24 hours at my new school, my teacher and principal requested a meeting with my mother. They informed my mother that her third grader could not read, nor write and handed her a list of things to help teach me at home. My mother glanced at the paper in her hand and sat quietly for a moment and then said, “I’m sorry, I cannot help”. The principal was shocked and angered and asked her, “don’t you want her to learn how to read?” She replied, “of course I do! I want my child to read, but….” My mother looked at the floor embarrassed and said, “I don’t know how to read myself.” It was my teacher who reached over and touched my mother’s hand and said, “don’t worry, we will teach her to read.”

 

The following week, I was introduced to a kind woman who tested my reading abilities. Even though she was exceptionally kind, I couldn’t help but feel

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defeated at every task she gave me. I could not recognize a single sight word or pronounce anything she placed in front of me. At one point I mumbled, “they’re all right” (referring to fellow classmates) as my tear-filled eyes lifted up to look into hers I said, “they’re all right, I am stupid.” The sad part was that I believed it. I must have broken her heart. She grabbed my face with both of her hands and kept my gaze and said, “you are NOT stupid, no has ever taught you this and I will.” 

 

I thank God often for the Angel He placed in my life at seven years old. Every single day she came to that school and took me out of class for one whole hour. During this hour she would pour into me slowly, letter by letter, word by word, and she taught me how to read. When I left the third grade, I was able to read at a second-grade reading level. And you know what? She didn’t give up. She came back the next year and kept teaching me until I was able to read with my fellow classmates. 

 

This Angel sparked a fire within me. Once I could read, it was like a new world had opened up to me. I excelled academically and became a straight “A” student. All because one person took the time and taught me to read. I moved again and again and yet again, but I never forgot her. If I could find her now I would say, “how could I ever thank you enough? Because of you, I didn’t give up. Because of you, I graduated Valedictorian of my class. Because of you, I earned a scholarship to college. I joined the US Navy and flew on a large aircraft all around the world to support our freedoms. I earned my college degrees and worked at the University of Michigan, helping students achieve their dreams. All because one person took the time to teach a seven-year-old how to read. How easily I could have slipped through the cracks of the school system. I could have never learned to read, never went to college, and never served our nation in the military. How drastically different my life would be today, if you weren’t in it when I was seven. May our Lord bless you for blessing me.” 

 

I wanted to share my story because I am living proof that reading programs help and do work.