Committed to providing positive, meaningful and effective literacy support for developing readers.

 


Committed to providing positive, meaningful and effective literacy support for developing readers.

Who we are

Linda Leon, President and co-founder of Kids Read, has expertise in diagnosing reading problems and developing instructional strategies for young readers. She has spent more than a decade developing innovative and effective literacy support programs in the Loveland, Colorado school district.  Linda's many years of working with developing readers inspired her to create the Zirkel game concept.  She is currently a full time faculty member at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado where she is also the Director of the Reading Center in the School of Teacher Education.  Linda earned a Master’s degree in Reading from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.  Linda is married with three adult children and five grandchildren.

Jane Askham, Vice President and co-founder of Kids Read, spent many years providing assessment and individualized literacy support to young readers as a paraprofessional in the Loveland, Colorado school district.  She is currently a member of the Children’s Department at the Loveland Public Library in Loveland, Colorado.  Jane earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin. Jane is married with two adult children.

 

Our history

Kids Read began in response to a real and important unmet need.  In May 2010, Linda Leon and Jane Askham recognized the lack of individualized literacy support services available for families during the summer months.  With a shared desire to help children experience the joy of reading and a shared belief that each child is a unique learner with their own strengths and not a problem to be fixed, we offered free literacy coaching to young readers in the basement of a local church.  Word of our efforts was spread and the following summer of 2011, we were invited to provide summer reading support at B.F. Kitchen Elementary School in Loveland, Colorado.

While interacting with these young readers, many of whom were reluctant to come to school on a beautiful summer day, we adapted our methods and materials to meet their individual needs.  To keep the reading experience fun as well as effective, we used an interactive cycle of activities that worked with a variety of texts.  Linda drew on all of her professional expertise and personal experience to create the prototype of the Kids Read Game.  The result was well received and made a positive impact.  Many of the parents asked if we they could get a copy of our game so that they could continue to play at home. Excited by this opportunity to cultivate a home to school connection, Jane and Linda formed Kids Read and received legal standing as a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency in the State of Colorado.

When Kids Read was again invited to provide summer reading support at BF Kitchen Elementary school in May 2012, the program was designed to include an interactive reading group and one on one support.  Volunteers were recruited and trained to expand opportunities for participation.  The game concept was refined and field tested in this setting.  Later that fall, Linda helped establish a site based after school tutoring and mentoring program in collaboration with Cottonwood Plains Elementary School at the Lago Vista trailer park neighborhood in Loveland, Colorado.  She recruited and trained dozens of volunteer coaches to use the new version of the Kids Read Game so that young residents of the Lago Vista neighborhood received reading support and practice during the summer of 2013.  Linda and Jane also offered game night events at Cottonwood Elementary so parents and kids could learn how to play the game at home over the summer.  When Cynthia Slosson, the Outreach Coordinator from the Loveland Public Library, attended a training session, she was impressed by how fun and easy the game was to use.  She was excited by the game’s effectiveness to motivate and engage reluctant readers.  Recognizing that the game might be a great way for the Library to promote family literacy, she invited Kids Read to work collaboratively to develop city wide summer reading opportunities. 

In June 2013, the collaboration resulted in an on-going Buddy Reading program.  Trained Buddy Reading volunteers provide a fun, interactive and effective reading practice session for young readers using Kids Read game materials at the Library and at three outreach sites.  Families loved the opportunity and they appreciated the Library’s commitment to family literacy.  The Library also made the Kids Read Game available for circulation so families could play at home.

As we listened to the feedback from volunteers and families who were using our game materials, we decided to develop the game concept further into a board game called Zirkel©.  It has been such a delight to see kids react to the game play where they get to be in control of the process.  Many have commented that playing Zirkel makes reading practice more fun since they get to roll the die and share their thoughts out loud. 

As we explore the many opportunities to have a positive impact on children and families, we are eager to provide opportunities for children to discover and embrace the joy of reading as they gain the literacy skills needed to become competent and independent readers.

© 2016 Kids Read