Education Commissioner Pender Makin Kicks Off Annual Read to ME Challenge by Reading to Sanford Pre-K Students 

Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin kicked off the state’s Read to ME Challenge at Sanford Regional Technical Center by reading If Only… to a group of spirited pre-k students. This is the eighth year that the Maine Department of Education is collaborating with schools, parents and communities on this month-long public awareness campaign to promote the importance of literacy for all of Maine’s students, regardless of age. You can watch video of Makin kicking off the challenge here.

The Read to ME Challenge encourages adults to read to children for 15 minutes, capture that moment via a photo or a video, and then post it to social media and challenge others to do the same using the hashtag #ReadtoME.

Makin also spent time talking with students who are part of Sanford Regional Technical Center’s early childhood education program. Students in the program split their time between their own classroom and interacting with children in the pre-k classroom. Sanford was also able to expand to full day pre-k this year after receiving a grant through the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan.

“The Read to ME Challenge is about creating a love of reading with children and promoting literacy across our state—and it’s fun,” said Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “Not only did I get to read to an amazing group of pre-k students today, but I had the wonderful opportunity to talk with high school students who are working hard to become future educators through this amazing early childhood education program at Sanford Regional Technical Center.”

The simple act of reading aloud to a child 15 minutes a day for five years results in 27,375 minutes of language exposure, which can put children on the path to high literacy achievement and helps them build knowledge and vocabulary. Research demonstrates a number of benefits to reading to children, from birth through their childhoods and even teenage years, including modeling reading as an enjoyable lifelong activity, stimulating brain development, reducing stress and anxiety, building knowledge of the world, and helping develop the skills necessary to succeed in their lives.

Schools and community organizations can find a toolkit and resources on the Department of Education website and the Department will be sharing videos, photos, and updates from the challenge all month long on social media.

Participants in the challenge are reminded to use the hashtag #ReadtoME and to tag the Maine DOE at @mdoenews on Twitter, @MaineDepartmentofEducation1 on Facebook, and @mainedepted on Instagram.

See who Commissioner Makin Challenged!

Read to ME Challenge Kicks Off This Week

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is pleased to announce that Commissioner Pender Makin will kick off the 8th annual Read to ME Challenge on Wednesday, February 1, 2023. You can watch a live stream of the event on the Maine DOE YouTube Channel.

The Read to ME Challenge is a month-long public awareness campaign held in February to promote childhood literacy in Maine. The challenge is an opportunity to promote children’s literacy growth by reading aloud to one or more children for at least 15 minutes. Part of the challenge is capturing the moment via a photo or video and then posting it on social media (with the hashtag #ReadtoME and tag the Maine DOE at @mdoenews on Twitter and @MaineDepartmentofEducation1 on Facebook! Keep watching the Maine DOE social media sites to see who has accepted the challenge of sharing the joy of reading with a child.

The Read to ME Challenge will run for the month of February, leading up to Read Across America Day on March 2, 2023. Learn more about the Read to ME Challenge on the Maine DOE Website. If you have a school or community organization that plans on participating in this challenge, please let us know by signing up at this link.

Download a promotional flyer here (PDF).

For more information, contact Dee Saucier (, Inclusive Education Literacy Specialist for the Maine DOE Office of Special Services and Inclusive Education.

Tenets of High-Quality, Evidence-Based Literacy Instruction for Pre-K to Grade 3 Students Released by Maine Department of Education

The success of Maine’s future requires an approach to education that fully prepares students for college, careers, and citizenship by focusing on their physical, emotional, and academic growth. The Maine DOE’s Whole Student Approach is a framework that invests in structures, people, and practices to develop educational systems that support healthy, safe, engaged, supported, challenged and prepared students. To accomplish this, the Maine DOE studies the science of learning and promotes evidence-based practices that support whole student development.  A critical component of a whole student approach is to ensure intentionally planned foundational literacy instruction is available for all students in Pre-K to Grade 3. Strong literacy skills are essential for ensuring equitable academic, social, and emotional learning opportunities.

Recognizing the vital importance of foundational literacy development and in response to school system inquiries related to early literacy program development, a team of Maine DOE specialists, with feedback from Maine educators and educational partners, has developed guidance to support School Administrative Units in designing and implementing systematic and explicit early literacy instruction. The guidance outlines essential literacy content as well as core instructional and assessment practices research indicates should be present in Pre-K to Grade 3 classrooms. A table depicting the changing emphasis on essential components across the Pre-K to Grade 3 span is included in the document.

This guidance is designed as a supportive tool for early elementary educators, administrators, and literacy leadership teams to reflect on current practices and to potentially adjust educational design to support high-quality and evidence-based early literacy learning for all Pre-K to Grade 3 students. The recently revised state literacy plan, Literacy for ME 2.0, offers SAUs additional structures to develop reliable systems of literacy supports from birth to adult in communities and schools.

Access the guidance document: High-Quality, Evidence-Based Literacy Instruction for All Maine Pre-K to Grade 3 Students

If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact Dee Saucier (, Inclusive Education Literacy Specialist, or Lee Anne Larsen (, Director of Early Learning.

Get Ready to Celebrate the Read to ME Challenge

For the 8th consecutive year, the Maine Department of Education will collaborate with community organizations and schools to promote the Read to ME Challenge, a month-long public awareness campaign held during February across Maine.

The Read to ME Challenge is intended to bolster enjoyment in reading and to support children’s literacy growth by challenging adults to read to and/or with children for at least 15 minutes during the month of February. Challenge readers are invited to capture the moment via a photo or a video to post on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with the hashtag #ReadtoME.  They are also encouraged to continue the impact by challenging social media friends to read to children and spread the impact across the state. Maine DOE hopes that social media posts include Twitter tag at @mdoenews and/or a  Facebook tag @MaineDepartmentofEducation1!

While anyone can participate in the Read to ME Challenge, this initiative offers a wonderful opportunity for schools, child cares, libraries, and many other community organizations to plan engaging strategies for completing the challenge and demonstrating commitment to reading to children. In the past there have been a variety of student and adult groups that have organized impactful reading events. These include college and high school sports teams, civic organizations, library programs, recreation departments and educational organizations. If you have a school or community organization that plans on participating in this challenge, please let us know by signing up at this link.

The Read to ME Challenge will run for the month of February, leading up to Read Across America Day on March 2, 2023. Learn more about the Read to ME Challenge on the Maine DOE Website and be looking for more details about the kick-off soon.

For additional information, contact Dee Saucier (, Maine DOE Inclusive Education Literacy Specialist.


Introducing the Maine Association for Improving Literacy (MAIL) – a Statewide Literacy Network

Literacy, as defined by the Maine Department of Education, is the ability to construct and convey meaning for a variety of purposes through an array of contextual forms and symbols, including reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing.

Literacy advocate and expert Pam Allyn says, “Reading is like breathing in and writing is like breathing out.”

We can blend these thoughts to substantiate literacy as the overarching key to educational equity which enables communication and comprehension. Literacy achievement is pivotal for ensuring students have access to the world of today and tomorrow, The Maine DOE has launched a Literacy Network to strengthen statewide literacy educational practices.

During the Spring of 2022, an introductory meeting began the process of envisioning the possibilities, priorities, and efforts of the Maine Association for Improving Literacy (MAIL). This network, open to all educators and those interested in improving literacy education efforts to benefit students, is being developed to strengthen statewide literacy practices. The Maine DOE plans to facilitate this group through:

  • professional text and article studies,
  • opportunities to share problems of practice,
  • conversations across the state,
  • sharing resources,
  • state updates, and
  • development of professional presentations for the benefit of all of Maine’s educators, schools, districts, and communities.

The attendees at the introductory meeting began the process of visioning what a literacy network might set for goals and products. The hopes of this group included:

  • Ensuring children can read and love to read.
  • Developing outcomes to address the needs and diversity of Maine’s current population.
  • Supporting districts, teachers, specialists, etc. to build common ground, common language, common knowledge that leads to greater continuity of practice across the state of Maine.

As the new school year begins, MAIL will move forward, continuing to build vision and purpose. Plans for this year include:

  1. Holding monthly meetings, beginning in October. The tentative schedule for 2022-2023 School Year is as follows.
    Second Thursday of each month from 3:30 pm-4:30 pm:

    • October 13, 2022
    • November 10, 2022
    • December 8, 2022
    • January 12, 2023
    • February 9, 2023
    • March 9, 2023
    • April 13, 2023
    • May 11, 2023
    • June 8, 2023
  2. Offering 2 text study opportunities to spark discussion.
  3. Identifying the needs across the state and developing strategies to support and strengthen instructional literacy knowledge, messaging, and practices.
  4. Beginning to develop a toolkit of resources and information.

If you are interested in joining this literacy network and helping to develop the vision for a statewide effort to improve literacy, please register at the link below. There is no commitment, but your registration will ensure that you receive information and mailings.

Register for the Maine Association for Improving Literacy

If you have additional questions about MAIL, please do not hesitate to contact Dee Saucier, Inclusive Education Literacy Specialist, ( or Lee Anne Larsen, Coordinator of Early Learning (