Ready to Read: Literacy Resources for Families

Literacy is the single most important skill required for educational, career, and lifetime success. Yet, two-thirds of our Black and Latino students have not been meeting grade level proficiency in reading. In addition, students who change schools often fall behind when their new school uses a different curriculum. To close these gaps, New York City Public Schools launched NYC Reads earlier this year.

Through NYC Reads, all of our our early education and elementary classrooms will adopt one of several literacy curriculum options over the next two years. These curricula are based in the “science of reading,” a broad collection of research that is focused on helping children become better readers and writers through evidence-based practice.

The universal curriculum also helps make the transition between schools smoother for students, and allows for better coordination of professional support for our teachers, to ensure that they are successful in implementing these lessons.

There are many ways that families can help their students continue to build their literacy skills outside of the classroom, too. 

  • Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt: make a list of things your child can find in your neighborhood, like street signs or names of shops. For a twist, have your child try to find one thing to represent every letter of the alphabet.
  • Family Book Club: choose a book to read together each month, followed by discussions and activities related to the book’s themes.
  • Phonics “20 Questions:” choose a secret word and have your child ask questions that will help them guess what it is (i.e., Does the word begin with the letter “T?” Does the word end in a vowel?”)
  • Language and Vocabulary Games: flashcards, word searches, and even word association games like Heads Up can be great ways to make learning more fun.
  • One Sentence Stories: to help build sequencing skills, work together as a family to write a story, one sentence at a time. You can start out by retelling a story you all know, or coming up with a new one of your own! A helpful tip is to use sequencing words like “first,” “next,” and “finally.” When you finish your story, recap the characters and plot together to help build reflection and comprehension skills. Children can also practice writing it down together, and even add illustrations to create your own picture book. 

Even more resources are available on our Literacy webpage, where we also have links to book lists that will inspire your at-home reading. You can access many of these titles through the New York Public Library, or through Sora, NYC Public Schools digital library. 


In celebration of Pride Month, we’re sharing the story of Edie Windsor, a computer programmer and pioneering LGBTQ+ activist best known for her role in the landmark 2013 Supreme Court case, United States v. Windsor, that helped lead towards the eventual legalization of gay marriage in the United States.

Learn about Edie Windsor on Hidden Voices

Thea Spyer (left) sitting with her arm around Edie Windsor (right) outside on some rocks with bare trees in the background.

June is Caribbean American Heritage Month! To celebrate, we're sharing the story of Antonia Pantoja, a Puerto Rican activist and educator known for fighting for the rights of her community, especially in New York City.

Learn more about Antonia Pantoja on Hidden Voices

Black and white photograph of Antonia Pantoja in a classroom. The background is tinted green.

June is Pride Month! This year, New York City is also marking the 55th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising on June 28, 2024. To help you learn and celebrate this month, we’re sharing some of our favorite books that feature LGBTQ+ individuals at the forefront. With a collection of both fiction and non-fiction stories across cultures, settings, and time periods, we hope you'll enjoy these books as much as we do! 

Early Readers (3K–Grade 2)

  • Drawing on Walls: A Story of Keith Haring, by Matthew Burgess; illustrated by Josh Cochran  
  • Kind Like Marsha: Learning from LGBTQ+ Leaders, by Sarah Prager; illustrated by Cheryl Thuesday  
  • Phoenix Gets Greater, by Marty Wilson-Trudeau with Phoenix Wilson; illustrated by Megan Kyak-Monteith
  • Ritu Weds Chandni, by Ameya Narvankar
  • A Song for the Unsung: Bayard Rustin, The Man Behind the 1963 March on Washington, by Carole Boston Weatherford and Rob Sanders; illustrated by Byron McCray

Elementary (Grades 3–5) 

  • Answers in the Pages, by David Levithan
  • A High Five for Glenn Burke, by Phil Bildner
  • Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, by Ashley Herring Blake
  • This is Our Rainbow: 16 Stories of Her, Him, Them, and Us, edited by Katherine Locke and Nicole Melleby
  • Twelfth, by Janet Key

Middle School (Grades 6–8)

  • Alice Austen Lived Here, by Alex Gino
  • In the Key of Us, by Mariama J. Lockington
  • The Insiders, by Mark Oshiro
  • Nikhil Out Loud, by Maulik Pancholy
  • A Queer History of the United States for Young People, by Michael Bronski; adapted by Richie Chevat  

Upper Grades (Grades 9–12)

  • All Boys Aren’t Blue, by George M. Johnson
  • Felix Ever After, by Kacen Callender
  • Last Night at the Telegraph Club, by Malinda Lo
  • Songs of Irie, by Asha Ashanti Bromfield
  • Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights, by Ann Bausum 
Image of two students reading.

You can check out our full Pride Month Reading List on our website for even more great recommendations! These books, and many others, can be found on Sora, our Citywide Digital Library, which provides free access to thousands of digital e-books and audiobooks for our students! During Pride Month, you can also check out these collections on Sora for more recommendations:


Missed our previous books of the week?

Check out all of our past recommendations in the Books of the Week Archive!


SPOTLIGHT ON OUR SCHOOLS

With the end of the 2023–24 school year comes the end of the Public Schools Athletic League's (PSAL) spring season across several sports. Check out the following photos to see some of our newest PSAL champions, and let's give a huge round of applause to all of our City's student athletes!

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The High School of American Studies' softball team posing behind a banner that reads, "2023–24 Softball "1A" PSAL Champions"
23-24 2A Boys Tennis Championship Winners
A softball outfielder from the Baccalaureate School for Global Education throwing a softball.
23-24 PSAL Co-Ed Golf Champions
23-24 PSAL Girls Badminton City Champions Biting Medals
23-24 Boys Individual Doubles Tennis Champions
23-24 PSAL Softball 3A Champions
23-24 PSAL Boys Rugby Champions
23-24 1A Boys Tennis Championship
23-24 PSAL Girls Rugby Champions

Six men, the Emancipation Day Band, in the year 1900. They are carry instruments, wearing suits and hats, and in front of an American flag.

Celebrating Pride Month graphic with rainbow illustrations.

Celebrating Caribbean American Heritage Month graphic with floral illustrations in bright colors.

Ready to Read: Literacy Resources for Families

Literacy is the single most important skill required for educational, career, and lifetime success. Yet, two-thirds of our Black and Latino students have not been meeting grade level proficiency in reading. In addition, students who change schools often fall behind when their new school uses a different curriculum. To close these gaps, New York City Public Schools launched NYC Reads earlier this year.

Through NYC Reads, all of our our early education and elementary classrooms will adopt one of several literacy curriculum options over the next two years. These curricula are based in the “science of reading,” a broad collection of research that is focused on helping children become better readers and writers through evidence-based practice.

The universal curriculum also helps make the transition between schools smoother for students, and allows for better coordination of professional support for our teachers, to ensure that they are successful in implementing these lessons.

There are many ways that families can help their students continue to build their literacy skills outside of the classroom, too. 

  • Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt: make a list of things your child can find in your neighborhood, like street signs or names of shops. For a twist, have your child try to find one thing to represent every letter of the alphabet.
  • Family Book Club: choose a book to read together each month, followed by discussions and activities related to the book’s themes.
  • Phonics “20 Questions:” choose a secret word and have your child ask questions that will help them guess what it is (i.e., Does the word begin with the letter “T?” Does the word end in a vowel?”)
  • Language and Vocabulary Games: flashcards, word searches, and even word association games like Heads Up can be great ways to make learning more fun.
  • One Sentence Stories: to help build sequencing skills, work together as a family to write a story, one sentence at a time. You can start out by retelling a story you all know, or coming up with a new one of your own! A helpful tip is to use sequencing words like “first,” “next,” and “finally.” When you finish your story, recap the characters and plot together to help build reflection and comprehension skills. Children can also practice writing it down together, and even add illustrations to create your own picture book. 

Even more resources are available on our Literacy webpage, where we also have links to book lists that will inspire your at-home reading. You can access many of these titles through the New York Public Library, or through Sora, NYC Public Schools digital library. 

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