Maine’s Read to ME Challenge has become a ritual

Maine’s Read to ME Challenge became a household activity for the Veneziano family in Hermon this past month. The television public service announcements for the campaign that kicked off February 2, are of Jodi and her twins Donnie and Frankie reading. Aside from assisting the Maine Department of Education in producing these PSAs, this family took the challenge seriously.

Cole reading to Frankie“We have seen an increased interest in our children’s desire to read that has included our entire extended family,” says Brian Veneziano as his – nephew Cole Mariano took the challenge on a recent visit.

Jodi Veneziano says, “Our three year olds have always enjoyed being read to, but now they try to read to us and often recite the last sentence on each page of their books and that’s all thanks to the State of Maine’s Read to ME Challenge.”

Sammie and boysShe goes on, “We have always read to our boys but we also got easily distracted.  With the challenge, we have actually set the timer for 15 minutes each day to read with the boys and this has made a big difference. We see that they understand more and their attention spans are greater. Since participating, ‘just one more book’ has become a common saying around our house, and our friends have joined us in reading with the boys.”

ArboAnother family made the Read to ME Challenge a ritual. Brittany Arbo is a literacy coach at Katahdin Elementary in Sherman and writes, “We love to read in the bathtub… We also love to read during breakfast and lunch!” The family also tuned in to Maine Public Broadcasting’s Maine Calling Program of February 8 on the challenge, and Brittany was quick to let us know she was all ears. “Our little family just listened to you on MPBN. I am so thankful for this challenge and the awareness it is raising across the state. We are very thankful for you in this house and in our community.”

penob community schoolFrom homes to schools, the challenge has been accepted across the state. Penobscot Community School started the winter break off right with a Read-In on Feb.12 and met the Read to ME Challenge. Older students read with younger students and community members read to the school.

GallantSharon Gallant is a Gardiner Area High School science teacher who reads to her students each week because she knows it is great modeling. She, along with her Advanced Placement Biology students, read from “The Secret Life of Lobsters” by Trevor Corson in completing the challenge.

The Windham High School Library is pleased to participate in the 2016 Read to ME Challenge. Kristin Chavonelle, Windham High School’s library assistant writes, “We were challenged by Ann Marie Barter of the Teen Trendsetters program …I went to the Windham Primary School and read to one of our mentees in Teen Trendsetters. He loved the book and the fact that I took time out to sit and read to him.  It was awesome!”

Scarborough Public Schools’ Literacy Instructional Coach Ann Marie Henderson says Scarborough’s K-2 schools have been participating in the challenge in a number of ways to include not only teachers taking the challenge with total number of minutes of reading being tallied, but a letter was sent home to parents along with a memo in the school’s weekly email, challenging families to participate. She writes, “I am really excited about our participation, and can’t wait to hear feedback from kids, teachers, and parents about it. Thanks!”

Anita #ReadMaine Department of Education staff has taken the challenge as well this month, and you can see the postings of their activity and challenges on the Maine DOE Facebook page.

Also Visual and Performing Arts Specialist Beth Lambert made a video of her activity with her four year old daughter, Paige reading “We’re in a book!” by Mo Willems.

The Maine Department of Education’s Read to ME Challenge will conclude March 2 in conjunction with Read Across America Day. Even though there is an end date, Literacy Specialist Lee Anne Larsen says, don’t ever stop reading with children. “The time you spend reading to and with your children is one of the best investments you can make.  Reading opens up the world to young minds and stimulates learning. Some of the best memories of childhood are those spent reading with trusted adults.”

The Department thanks the many “Challenge Partners” in making this campaign a continued success and we look forward to future initiatives designed to promote the value of literacy.

For more information about the Read to Me Challenge and Literacy for ME, contact Lee Ann Larsen at