I was delighted to read the article about Nora Flynn [For Julian literacy teacher, award affirms hard work, News, Sept. 28]. Nora is the literacy specialist at Percy Julian Middle School who received the 2022 Barack Obama Literacy Award from the Illinois Reading Council. With this award came a $1,000 collection of books that represent Black and Brown characters and cultures.

Of course, the accomplishments of Nora’s students predate her award and are the reason for her award, but the relevance of the books she has been using and these new books, she says in the article, “allow us to just level up quite a bit and have the joy of reading again.” Students are more likely to read if the book is relevant.

Julian’s principal, Jeremy Christian, said in the article that the data points show that Nora’s students are now reading at grade level or above. He also stated that when a story or character aligns more closely to readers and their experiences it is “wildly impactful.”

For students who have been struggling readers to read up to grade level is a tremendous milestone.

The message here for Oak Park District 97 is that, to benefit all students and enhance teaching strategies, all the district school librarians and literacy specialists should immediately receive more funding for books and materials.

Elaine Johnson
Oak Park

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