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Happy Valentine’s Day! | Fall in Love with Reading

Our local Kingsport Public Library‘s Children & Youth Librarian, Ms. Casey Applebaum, compiled some great book choices to get you reading with loved little ones this Valentine’s Day!

Casey’s Top Picks in Each Category. Read on for even more suggestions!


Picture Books

#1 My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall

One of my favorite picture books of all time, My Heart is Like a Zoo not only explores the love anyone can have for someone else whether friend, family, or romantic interest, but also shares common zoo animals and a basic characteristic. 

Casey Applebaum

#2 Here Comes Valentine’s Cat by Deborah Underwood
#3 If You’ll Be My Valentine by Cynthia Rylant


Beginning Readers

#1 Llama llama Be My Valentine by Anna Dewdney

Be My  Valentine celebrates the joy of the classroom Valentines Day party and takes on the topic of using your own strengths and abilities to create gifts for others instead of trying to replicate another person’s work.

Casey Applebaum

#2 Melvin’s Valentine by Jon Scieszka
#3 Love is in the Air by Jonathan Fenske


1st-2nd Grade Readers

#1 Junie B. Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentine by Barbara Park

Junie B’s teacher tells them they must all bring Valentines for the whole class and when the time comes to distribute them, Junie B recieves an extra Mushy and Gushy one. This title explores the drama of having a secret admirer and trying to figure out who it is in typical silly Junie B. fashion.

Casey Applebaum

#2 Captain Awesome Gets Crushed by Stan Kirby


3rd-5th Grade Readers


Hope you found a new book to love!
Check out more book recommendations and activities on our Valentine’s Pinterest Board. And remember to #READ20 Minutes Every Day!

United WE READ’s Two School District Partners Are Achieving Great Results!

This week brought significant milestone announcements for both Kingsport City Schools and Sullivan County Department of Education.

United WE READ supports our educators in their daily work to achieve literacy growth for ALL students. So when the official results return and that growth is clearly showcased, we love to highlight their great, ongoing work.

This past spring, we featured the historic gains that Sullivan County Schools have made through their long-range strategy and adoption of the Core Knowledge Language Arts Curriculum (CKLA) with Dr. Robin McClellan championing those efforts. (If you missed our summary, read more here).

Just this week, they announced even further reading growth, achieving“a significant decrease in the number of students with “at-risk” levels of reading proficiency, from 37.8% of students in the fall screening to 26% in the spring screening. This means that the district has 456 fewer elementary students with an “at-risk” designation for reading.” – Dr. Robin McClellan for Kingsport Times-News

Then, with the statewide release of the TN Ready results for the 2018-2019 school year, both districts received high recognition and a combined THIRTEEN local schools were designated as Reward Schools — the highest distinction a school can earn in Tennessee. Read their announcements below to learn more!

Sullivan County Department of Education’s Announcement.
Kingsport City School District’s Announcement.

United WE READ offers our sincere congratulations to both districts on their hard-earned accomplishments. We hope this momentum continues to motivate and inspire educators as they move forward into another great school year!

It’s the support from great partners that allow us to move the needle. We are better together!


– Dr. Jeff Moorhouse, Kingsport City Schools superintendent

Congratulations to United WE READ’s 2019 Camp Read to Lead Students!

United WE READ’s Camp Read to Lead just completed a fantastic third summer of growth! This exciting camp experience was funded by a partnership between Ballad Health Foundation and United Way of Greater Kingsport and hosted by Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kingsport and Bloomingdale Baptist Church! Our 2019 theme of “Super Reader, Super Self!” focused on each child’s unique talents and strengths–including being great young readers!

Modeled around the successful statewide initiative, “Read to Be Ready,” United WE READ’s program seeks out over 60 students who were behind grade-level assessment in reading ability at the end of the spring semester. The program is structured for teachers to work in a close 5:1 ratio with students for two and a half hours per day over one month, and United WE READ uses the same pre and post-program assessment tools as the state initiative. Each rising 1st and 2nd grade student has an opportunity to gain a love for reading, confidence, improve literacy abilities, build a personal library of nearly 20 new books and other school supplies, and participate in weekly field-trips offering practical, real-world experiences.

In 2019, students showed, on average, a +11.2% gain in accuracy and comprehension over the four week program, and a +2.2% gain in areas such as motivation, value for reading, and self-concept as a reader (All assessments based on Read to Be Ready standardized questionnaire and passages). Additionally (and for the third year in a row),100% of regular attenders maintained or improved reading levels, achieving our goal to reduce the “summer slide” where students can fall behind during summer months.