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Heritage teacher and students to appear in reading documentary for National Reading Month

LANSING, Ill. (March 26, 2024) – Susan Brady was thrilled when she received an email from the non-profit organization Reading is Fundamental offering Heritage Middle School free books and reading resources for its students. Her excitement didn’t last long as she found out the email was sent to the wrong Susan Brady.

However, the mistake coincided with her getting a reading grant for the school and an appearance in a documentary, which will air on Wednesday night.

The three-year grant included a backpack, bookmarks, book stickers, and three free books per year for each student.

Partnering with Sinclair Cares

Sinclair Broadcasting, a local news and sports media company, and Reading is Fundamental partnered to launch Sinclair Cares, a campaign to support children’s literacy. Sinclair donated $25,000 to RIF to support the campaign.

The campaign was created to bring awareness around children’s literacy challenges and help get books to children across the United States. Part of the campaign featured a virtual book drive to help raise funds to donate to RIF.

Sinclair produced content to air throughout March, National Reading Month, including a 30 and 60-minute special to raise awareness around the issue. Both specials feature interviews with RIF executives, literacy experts, educators, and local students.

Last month, Brady was contacted by a marketing rep at RIF to ask her and a group of Heritage students to appear in the special.

“They wanted to talk about how reading scores have gone down, and how can we encourage reading for our kids,” said Brady, a Reading Specialist at Heritage Middle School.

“She said ‘We thought of you to interview so can you get some kids?’ and I said ‘Of course,’” she continued.

A passion for reading

Brady started the Heritage Reading Club to get students to read more.

She selected four students in her reading club from each grade level to appear in the documentary along with her. The students were interviewed via Zoom because RIF main office is in Washington, DC.

Brady says the students were both nervous and excited during the day of the interview.

“The kids were amazing,” said Brady. “They all love books; they all love to read.”

From Left: Adiella Anele, Treasure Brown, Louis Carter Jr., and Elijah Bailey were the lucky reading club students chosen to be in the “Sinclair Cares” reading documentary beside Mrs. Brady. (Photo: Kinise Jordan)

The students shared their personal reading stories with The Lansing Journal.

Fifth-grade participant Louis Carter said he likes reading because it can help him escape from reality and allows him to use his imagination.

Treasure Brown, the sixth-grade participant, likes to take breaks from her cell phone to read.

“Books can be not only helpful but can also allow you to get to know yourself as a person and what you really like,” she said.

Seventh-grader Adiella Anele faced social challenges at school when she was younger that would leave her very upset, but reading helped her overcome those challenges.

“I got to envision myself in other people’s stories from books and learned how to solve my own problems,” she said.

Elijah Bailey Jr., the eighth grade participant, says reading has also helped him overcome many obstacles in his life.

“I used to stutter a lot but as I would read, I learned to not stutter as much and it helped me with my social skills,” he said.

Brady expressed how proud she is of all four students.

The Sinclair Cares specials will stream on March 27 at 7 p.m. ET at WJLA.com for those outside Sinclair’s TV market. Viewers can locate it by entering “Reading is Fundamental” in the search bar.

Both specials can be viewed on the RIF YouTube channel as well.

More information about Sinclair Cares: Supporting Children’s Literacy is available at www.sinclaircares.com.

Heritage Middle School is located at 19250 Burnham Ave in Lansing.

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Kinise Jordan
Kinise Jordan
Kinise Jordan brings local experience and a long list of journalism skills to her work with The Lansing Journal. She understands the need for reliable, factual information in equipping people to build community. An Audio News internship with WBEZ honed her interviewing skills and her sense of timing and deadlines. A native of Calumet City, Kinise is familiar with the interplay of local government, local schools, and local businesses.

1 COMMENT

  1. You know what has been proven via MULTIPLE studies to increase reading scores? School librarians! D171 does not have a SINGLE certified librarian in their school libraries, but ISBE recommends one for every 450 students. They moved the last one to a classroom and now there is a gap in their students’ education, as this article shows. It’s great that the reading specialist is stepping up, but a certified librarian in both schools would do so much more for this district and its learners.

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