Weekly Reading Tips to Share and Info about Dr. Mary Ann Wolf

12/27/2020 11:22 am

Weekly Reading Tip to Share


Please feel free to copy and paste into your website and newsletters.  In each Letters are Characters newsletter, I will provide text you can use to demystify reading; protect children from reading struggles/failure and help create community solutions for the American reading crisis. Together, we can make a difference.


Reading Tip #1:  Reading pathways need to be formed in the brain.  Reading acquisition is independent of intelligence.  How fast one reads when given instruction depends on neuropathways.  This means some children require more multi-sensory, explicit and repetitive instruction.  ALL children learn best with explicit instruction on letter sounds and language structure when learning to read and nearly every child can learn to read at an average or better level if taught in a way that enables them to learn. Children who struggle with reading acquisition are often told to work harder but it is the adults that need to teach differently. 


Weekly Reading Researcher in the Spotlight - Dr. Mary Ann Wolf


Dr. Mary Ann Wolf is one of the top reading researchers in the world. Listen to or watch her talk:  

 (If the above link does not work, please copy and paste the above title into YouTube.)
This is a message of hope.  If you are pressed for time, put on your headphones and listen while you cook, drive or walk.  One thing that libraries can do to help is have a visible section in children's rooms about reading acquisition and dyslexia.  Dr. Mary Ann Wolf's books are must haves. 
Recommended Book with Annotation

 Wolf, Maryanne. 2008. The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. New York: Harper.

This book presents an important perspective on what reading does for us, how it shapes and changes our minds, thoughts, and brains. The exploration of reading as an occasion with the self that is both generative and transformative is illuminating. The last third of the book presents a comprehensive look at reading disorders/dyslexia. The section first explores the damage that is done to children because educators are often ill-equipped to help them.

“You will never understand what it feels like to be dyslexic. No matter how long you have worked in this area, no matter if your own children are dyslexic, you will never understand what it feels like to be humiliated your entire childhood and taught every day to believe that you will never succeed at anything (p. 165).” (Quote from Jackie Stewart, Scottish race car driver.)


“Children with any form of dyslexia are not ‘dumb’ or ‘stubborn’: nor are they ‘not working to potential’─the three most frequent descriptions they endure. However, they will be mistakenly described in these ways many times by many people, including themselves. It is vital for parents and teachers to work to ensure that all children with any form of reading problem receive immediate, intensive intervention and that no child or adult equates reading problems with low intelligence. A comprehensive support system should be in place from the first indication of difficulty until the child becomes an independent, fluent reader, or the frustrations of reading failure can lead to a cycle of learning failure, dropping out and delinquency. Most important the considerable potential of these children will be lost to themselves and to society (p. 194).”

Wolf stresses the fact that we know how to teach these children, and it is our failure if we don’t. Rapid automatized naming (RAN) tests are discussed as an effective way to identify those who my be struggling readers even before they begin to read (see pages 283–285).

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Trying to Read

12/27/2020 11:17 am


Trying to Read

By Caroline Wilcox Ugurlu


Once there was a very young child who loves stories characters and books.

He understood them deeply, and in his heart each message he took.

When it came time to read, he couldn't wait to learn, 

For to read on his own was the thing for which he most yearned.


But the letters and their sounds in his brain just didn't stick.

Some adults and children whispered that he wasn't very quick.

"Work harder," they said, and he went off sadly to hide, 

Burying his disappointment and fear deep inside.


He cried many tears at the young age of six:

He felt lost and alone with a problem he couldn't fix.

Then along came someone who understood his mind.

Who taught him about reading and always was kind.


Sadly those who could not see his struggle and made him feel small

Had not studied or done their homework, no not all.

If they had, they would have know how to better teach

This boy who struggled, was heart sick and out of reach.


For those who when trying to read have been made to feel shame, 

Know that it is not you who are to blame.

There are an army of reading angels trying to make it right,

By sharing that that nearly everyone can learn to read with delight.


Join Letters are Characters and spread this message!


This is me and my dog Kermit.  We both thank you for supporting this project.  Reading has pulled me through, lifted me up and made me who I am. Reading acquisition can be torture for people who end up feeling shame because of lack of awareness.  Let's fix this.  


I want all children and adults to know that reading acquisition is independent of intelligence.  Some of us need more repetitions and more multi-sensory education to become comfortable readers. 


The great news is, we know how to do this.  If you know someone who struggles with reading or spelling, share this with them.  




Caroline Wilcox Ugurlu, PhD., Wilson Dyslexia Practitioner


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Idea to Help Your Community During the Pandemic

12/27/2020 11:10 am

Idea to Help Your Patrons during the Pandemic


If you are looking for a program to help your patrons weather these trying times, consider a Zoom presentation with Dr. Joel Behar.  To see slides click below from a zoom presentation for the patrons of Oliver Wolcott Library in Litchfield, Connecticut.   


Dr. Joel Behar, Ph.D., LCSW, BCD, ABMP has been a mental health practitioner and meditator for over 40 years.
Contact him for information:  Joel Behar -  medpsych13@gmail.com
He holds a Masters Degree in Psychiatric Social Work from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Health Sciences Center, a Masters Degree in Educational Administration from Long Island University, and a Ph.D. in Medical Psychotherapy from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
If you would like to couple the program with some friendly bibliotherapy for families, e-mail lettersarecharacters@gmail.com for ideas.
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2020 Connecticut Library Association Presentation

12/12/2020 10:24 pm

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Letters are Character Kits

12/8/2020 11:49 am

Remote Literacy Kits Available

Purchase a bundle of books - 10, 25 or more.

Add a coloring book that is instructional.

Add a jar of letter dough (just add water).

Presto, you have a remote reading program that promotes best practices and raises awareness about the reading crisis so that we can over come it.  You can add weekly emails to support parents and caregivers.

For information or to order this for your library, email lettersarecharacters@gmail.com or call me at


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