Ready for School!

Ready for School! is a 10-week curriculum for working with young refugee families. These families often come from countries that do not offer children’s literature or a culture of parents reading to their little ones. Some of the refugee parents have limited English language skills and very few homes have children’s books in English.

The Ready for School! curriculum targets the following skill areas:

  • Reading, language, and reasoning
  • Math
  • Motor
  • Social
  • Parenting

Children and parents meet in a group setting one day a week for activities and instruction. Each week they are sent home with a new book, a bag of materials, and new skills to practice.

Click here for the Ready for School! Curriculum Guide


3rd Annual GCLC Cancelled

The Gulf Coast Literacy Conference scheduled for Saturday, January 31, has been postponed indefinitely due to low registration.

Please consider participating in two Houston in-service trainings for ESL on February 20-21. Second Baptist Church will host a workshop on Pronunciation on Friday evening, Feb. 20, and one on teaching higher level students on Saturday morning, Feb. 21. In San Antonio, the San Antonio Baptist Association will host a Basic ESL Training for New ESL Teachers of Adult Students on Feb. 6-7. Also, please consider participating in the Love in Deed Refugee Resettlement Conference, Feb. 27-28 in Houston.

3rd Annual Gulf Coast Literacy Conference

Click here to register for the GCLC!

GCLC for events

Sessions include:

Hispanic Education Initiative

Grow your program: Strategies for Deliberate and Effective Growth

Effective Multilevel Teaching Practices in the ESL/ABE/ASE Classroom
Hospitality: Just Do It!
ProLiteracy, the Benefits of Membership
ESL-Awake, Alive, and Fun–Round 2
Hope for Refugees
Favorite Teaching Techniques from a Sample Lesson on “Family”    
Using Lipson Lessons & Picture Sequence Pages
Critically Rethinking Literacy in the 21st Century
How to Transition your ESL Students into College
Higher Level Activities
Focus on EL Civics–Great, Engaging Lessons on the Topics We All Teach!

New Readers Press

Family Literacy

A Big Success

Many families will be blessed thanks to your generosity this Christmas season through Nuts over Reading.

We’re thankful, also, to Leonard Farms, for wonderful participation and support.

Merry Christmas to all!

Nuts over Reading

We’re one week into the shopping season and maybe you’re looking for something special that you just can’t find in a store. Nuts over Reading is an opportunity to give the gift of delicious Texas pecans to friends and loved ones, and at the same time, the gift of literacy to families in need. What could be better than that?

Please click here to learn more.

Fifty Ways #14 — Organize a Yearly Back-to-School Fair

Many churches across Texas and elsewhere have been busy organizing back-to-school fairs for months in preparation for the upcoming school year. Clearly the need is overwhelming. Many children are dependent on the kindness of others for new uniforms, haircuts, backpacks and more to begin school. And yet I wonder what it would feel like if one of my children were in one of those lines. I’m sure I would be grateful. But I also wonder what it feels like to be in line.


So, I’m curious about what churches and other groups are doing to help empower parents as they do the best they can for their children. Several years ago I observed a group of parents who had organized donated backpacks. When the children came for their backpacks, they received the gift from one of the parents – not one of the project sponsors though I’m sure everyone was aware of the source of the gifts.


Thinking about what it feels like to receive such donations – especially in the context of school supplies or food items at a food pantry – moves us in the direction of cultural competency. Ministries that seek to be culturally competent in how they do what they do move beyond cultural awareness and cultural sensitivity to change their approach in serving. Something to think about…

Blessings to all who share resources – especially with children preparing for school this fall.

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Fifty Ways #29 — Begin an Adult Literacy Program

The judge ordered him to pay child support – and to get a GED. He did not have a high school diploma but secured a job flipping hamburgers. It lasted an hour. He could not read the part about holding the pickles on the screen in front of him. He went to the local literacy center for help. The director found that his reading level was second grade. All she could do for him in the near term was to write a letter to the judge–a letter that described the lengthy and difficult journey to GED for him.
In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that Texas tied with California for the lowest percentage of its population 25 or older who has a high school diploma or a GED credential. According to the Texas Workforce Investment Council, some 4.3 million Texans met the federal requirements of qualifying for adult education in 2011–they were over age 16, not in school, did not have a high school diploma or a GED credential or speak, read or write English well.

GED sample
Could you pass the GED? The new GED – test for General Educational Development. It’s normed to a 40% fail rate for last year’s high school seniors. And it’s online. And you have to be able to “keyboard” 25 words per minute for the writing portion of the test. Good news: they provide an online calculator for the math section. You just plug in the data for those formulas for the math section. Remember those? The new test will not only include interactive math problems but will also require test takers to analyze social studies passages and demonstrate critical thinking through essays with those keyboarding skills.
You can find resources in your community to help adults prepare for the GED — assuming their reading skills are up to par (say ninth grade). The website for the Texas Center for the Advancement of Literacy and Learning has a directory of literacy providers: But many adults are not ready to begin study for the GED. They need help with ABC. Or ABE. You can find resources for adult basic education on this list of providers – just not enough. More are needed.

So consider #29 on the list of 50: Begin an adult literacy program helping adults with reading and GED preparation. That’s what H.D. White did in Amarillo. He’ll be honored in August at the Literacy Texas Conference as the Volunteer of the Year. Way to go H.D! Who’s next? Contact Literacy Connexus about how your church can begin to help adults learn to read and write better.

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Fifty Ways #23 — Teachers Rock

What would be most effective in improving education in the Lone Star State? Increase teacher pay? Increase school funding? Reduce standardized tests? Yes. Not surprising responses to a recent poll by the Texas Tribune. Also among the top suggestions was Encourage teaching as a profession. The first half of Way #23 of the list of 50 Ways Your Church Can Bless Your Community Through Literacy. The second half? Honor teachers in your congregation. Logically when you do one, you do the other.


Picture this as a part of a pastor’s greeting or sermon in May or June: “A special thanks to all the teachers in the congregation. Another year invested in young lives. Would you please stand? You make a big difference in the lives of our children and youth. We appreciate you! And children and youth here today, you do well to consider teaching as a career choice. Think about following in the footsteps of teachers you admire.”

Or, in late August, show this lively video created by Preston Trail Community Church, to show appreciation and give teachers a boost before heading back to the classroom. (This is one of many inspiring examples of the 50 Ways included in the electronic version here on our website.)


Consider teachers you admire. Many computer passwords are linked to security questions such as “Who was your favorite teacher?” Who was yours? Is it possible to drop a note or an e-mail today? And who are the teachers in your congregation? I can think of several in mine: active and retired. One recently retired educator in our congregation – Caroline Bell – is on the board of Literacy Connexus. She leads our church in affirming the teachers at the school we adopted. A monthly snack or other reminder that they are appreciated means so much.

Back to the future: today’s students. I’m happy to report that I know a couple of young men at my church who are preparing to become teachers. Something they observed inspired them to consider teaching as a profession.

Good job, teachers!

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Fifty Ways #33 — Thoughts for Flag Day

Right there on the 50 Ways list, she’s flying. On this Flag Day, 2014, George M. Cohan’s lyrics come to mind:

You’re a grand old flag,
You’re a high flyin’ flag
And forever in peace may you wave . . .

Fifty Ways Flag

Many will fly flags today. Consider this radical act of patriotism, too. It’s one of the 50 Ways Your Church Can Bless Your Community Through Literacy:

33. Encourage ethnic diversity in your church and awareness of the accompanying needs of non-English speakers and readers.

What’s the connection? In the midst of emotional rhetoric about immigration reform in Washington and elsewhere, Emma Lazarus’s poem fixed at the base of the Statue of Liberty reminds us of our heritage and opportunity.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

(The entire poem The New Colossus is worth reading; a poignant challenge for America at a crossroads politically and otherwise.)

statue of liberty

Here is an action plan for today and tomorrow . . . simple steps as a precursor to #33:

Compare the faces, the colors and the languages of those in line with you in commerce today (Walmart?) and those in the pew with you tomorrow. Disconnect or congruence?

For many around this hungry, war-torn globe, Old Glory still represents hope and opportunity. Symbolically, it is linked to the torch in New York harbor lifted by the “New Colossus.” Practically, it is as real only as the attitudes and actions of those who recite the Pledge and fly the flags. People have come to this country for many reasons. One thing is certain, how we respond to those who are different from us is a reflection of our sense of God’s working in the world. By encouraging ethnic diversity and awareness of needs in our congregations, we take beginning steps that can lead to ministry and authentic witness.

Watch for the newsletter next Wednesday to see how one congregation in Texas responded to unique needs in their community.

Meet you at the pole…

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