Celebrate the Read to ME Challenge During the Month of February

For the 6th year, the Maine Department of Education will collaborate with community organizations and schools to support the Read to ME Challenge, a month-long public awareness campaign held in February to promote childhood literacy in Maine. This year we will celebrate the Read to ME Challenge with a series of recorded videos by students and adults. We will post the videos and share, but if you would like to request the videos be sent to you directly, please complete this form.

This simple but powerful campaign challenges adults to read to children for 15 minutes, capture that moment via a photo or a video, and then post it on social media and challenge others to do the same. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #ReadtoME and tag the Maine DOE at @mdoenews on Twitter and @MaineDepartmentofEducation1 on Facebook!

The Read to ME Challenge will run for the month of February, leading up to Read Across America Day on March 2, 2021. Learn more about the Read to ME Challenge on the Maine DOE Website, which includes a heat map of participants and an opportunity to submit your Read to ME story for the heat map!

For more information, contact Dee Saucier, Elementary Literacy Specialist for the Maine DOE.

English Language Arts, Life and Career Ready, and Mathematics Standards Updated

Final adoption of Chapter 132 is effective July 18, 2020, following the submission of all required Administrative Procedures Act (APA) documentation with the Secretary of State’s Office. Chapter 132: Learning Results: Parameters for Essential Instruction revised the English Language Arts, Life and Career Ready (formerly Career and Education Development), and Mathematics standards.

The Maine DOE will be providing guidance and resources to SAUs in making the transition to the revised standards throughout the school year. There is no pre-determined date when SAUs must make the transition to the revised standards. It is the Department’s expectation that SAUs will use their own professional judgment and phase in the revised standards at a pace that makes sense for their students and for their educational practice. While, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person events are not planned at this time, digital resources, virtual training, and “office hours” with content specialists are ongoing and will support professional learning about the updated standards.

The updated English Language Arts standards are streamlined, edited from the previous standards to clarify related or similar learning goals; the standards are slimmed to focus on the essential outcomes for literacy development; the updated standards are also reordered to emphasize that the language strand is central to the development of the other ELA strands. Visit English Language Arts/Literacy content standards here and contact Danielle “Dee” Saucier for K-5 and Morgan Dunton for 6-12 supports.

The Life and Career Ready content standards build from and update the 2007 Career and Education Development standards and include the braiding of social emotional learning with career development.  Visit the Life and Career Ready Standards here and contact Diana Doiron for K-12 supports.

The updated Mathematics standards are reformatted, edited and streamlined from the previous standards to better articulate the progression of learning within and across the grade spans. Visit Mathematics Standards here and contact Jennifer Robitaille for K-5 and Michele Mailhot for 6-12 supports.

Engage Young Readers with Resources from the Beautiful Blackbird Children’s Book Festival

Indigo Arts Alliance launched the Beautiful Blackbird Children’s Book Festival across the State of Maine in Summer 2020 and shines a spotlight on the Black artists and writers who create children’s books featuring characters of the African Diaspora. Named in honor of Maine’s own Ashley Bryan, this inaugural event presented in partnership with I’m Your Neighbor Books, Diverse Book Finder, and the Maine Association of School Libraries honors roots, identity and resiliency of Black people across the world.  

Unable to engage with readers in person this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Beautiful Blackbird Children’s Book Festival celebrates virtually from May 25 to August 31, 2020 and features arts & crafts workshops, guest speakers, book read-alouds, a lively dance-along, and amazing performances.  

One of several Indigo programs that bring real, actionable change to the Maine’s arts and culture sector, the festival inspires children to read, write, or illustrate as well as raise the visibility of the extensive community and culture of Black and African American Authors and Illustrators. In a commitment to enable readers young and old to see themselves reflected in literature not just online, the festival created access to Black and African American characters in Maine by providing over 1,500 free books to children of all backgrounds in Portland.  

Although the festival specifically highlights books created for readers up to the age of 12, the overall mission applies to the entire family.  As Diverse Book Finder Director Dr. Krista Aronson explains, she and Indigo know it is important to create access to literature that cultivates creators who understand the necessity of self-identity.  “Books leave their mark,” the professor of Psychology at Bates College states in an early festival video. “They shape who we are, how we come to see ourselves, and who we will become… Picture books provide vehicles for parents and children to connect and share when they depict stories to which parents can relate.” 

With a festival kick-off in sync with the Maine’s Bi-Centennial events, the Beautiful Blackbird Children’s Book Festival is truly an all ages Black is beautiful celebration.  This year’s featured picture books and creators include selected works by several nationally recognized Black authors and illustrators as well as several Maine contributors including Ashley Bryan, author Samara Coyle Doyon, the Young Adult Writers of The Telling Room, and Coretta Scott King Award Winning Illustrator Daniel Minter.  Presenting nine books that represent the modern and historical African American experience, the Beautiful Blackbird Children’s Book Festival also highlights the experience of recent immigrants from Ethiopia, Somalia, and Haiti.

“We are proud to have retooled and redesigned this festival so we could bring it directly to families and children,” said Indigo Co-founder Marcia Minter. “It honors diversity, respects all cultures and builds a strong sense of community for all of us.”

Find Beautiful Blackbird Children’s Book Festival content year-round at www.beautifulblackbird.com

REMINDER: Register for the 5th Annual Read to Ride Summer Reading Challenge  

A unique world of remote learning and creative teaching has been the norm in recent weeks, but summer vacation is right around the corner. Summer vacation will be a welcome change of pace for families and teachers, yet the importance of summer reading will be as critical as ever. Educators and families have worked tirelessly to engage and challenge students. Making reading a part of the student experience this summer will be invaluable to a successful return to classrooms in the fall.

Once again, this year, the Maine Department of Education is collaborating with the Freemasons of Maine to sponsor the Read to Ride Summer Reading Challenge for students in grades PK-8.  The Maine Freemasons have generously donated 48 bikes with helmets as prizes for the Read to Ride Summer Reading Challenge.  During the first four years of this initiative, thousands of Maine children completed the challenge of reading 500 minutes during summer vacation.  Maine DOE hopes to see this number grow even higher during the summer of 2020.

Any school with students in the PK-8 grade span may register to participate. Participating schools will collect documentation from students who have completed the challenge. They will hold school level drawings to select two students whose names will be entered into the state level drawing to be held on September 25, 2020.   Schools are encouraged to participate in this challenge, to coordinate it with any other summer reading challenges/programs they offer, and to consider soliciting their own local level prizes for students who complete the challenge.  Find details and the link to register your school at the Read to Ride Challenge website.

Summer slide can be prevented or greatly reduced when students continue to read on a regular basis. By encouraging children to read for enjoyment from a variety of resources and to explore topics of interest, they continue to practice applying the skills they have learned, build their vocabulary, and widen their knowledge of the world.  For students who are not yet reading independently, or just beginning to read, reading to and with parents is equally beneficial.

Questions may be directed to Maine DOE’s Elementary Literacy Specialist, Danielle Saucier at danielle.m.saucier@maine.gov.

Celebrating National Poetry Month

The Maine Department of Education is celebrating National Poetry Month throughout the month of April. Find resources for accessing poetry, prepared lessons, and activities for educators and parents to supplement remote learning, and to celebrate and appreciate the beauty of poetry all month.

Anyone interested can find poetry resources on the Maine DOE Websitesuch as poems to inspire you, helpful links to The National Council of Teachers of English, in addition to a listing of activities the Department is encouraging throughout the month of April.

The Department hopes to encourage poetry celebration and appreciation with themed activities that can be done at home or using social media throughout the month. There will also be poetry specific virtual meetings designed for educators throughout the month.


  • April 5th – 18th: Historical Poems and Poems celebrating History
  • April 19th – 25th: Earth Day/Nature
  • April: 26th – 30th: Creating Poetry


  • Read in the round. Select a poem and have each person in your home read a line or a stanza. Practice changing your voice and reading with different emotions.
  • Write a poem. Tell a story about something you remember, how you are feeling, or something you wish.
  • Create a collage of photos or images with lines from a favorite poem. How does the poem look to you?

Schools, students, and families that would like to participate are encouraged to follow the Maine Department Education’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Tag us in any of your poetry activities this month, we’d love to keep up with what you are doing to celebrate poetry in April!