Globe West People

Former teachers help others teach reading

Susan Marx (left) and Barbara Kasok will be hosting a workshop on their new book, “Help Me Get Ready to Read,’’ as part of an early-childhood education conference Saturday in Boston. Susan Marx (left) and Barbara Kasok will be hosting a workshop on their new book, “Help Me Get Ready to Read,’’ as part of an early-childhood education conference Saturday in Boston.
By Cindy Cantrell
November 28, 2010

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THE ABC’s OF READING: When Susan Marx of Lexington and Barbara Kasok of Holliston met through a mutual friend three years ago, they discovered much in common. Both 60-something women had worked as elementary school teachers, raised families, and were seeking a new challenge. After discussing their shared passion for reading aloud to children, they decided to write a book.

“Help Me Get Ready to Read: The Practical Guide for Reading Aloud to Children During Their First Five Years’’ was published last month as a user-friendly compendium aimed at parents and educational professionals interested in encouraging an early love of books. On Saturday, the authors will host an interactive workshop as part of the Boston Association for the Education of Young Children’s 14th annual Babies & Toddlers Conference at Boston College High School in Dorchester.

“We’ve seen the importance of reading aloud to our children, our grandchildren, and our students,’’ Kasok said. “We wanted to share this knowledge that all parents need to know.’’

Reading aloud to children reinforces early literary concepts and skills such as listening, speaking, vocabulary, comprehension, phonological awareness, print concepts, and letters and their sounds, but not all reading techniques are intuitive, Marx said. Rather than reading a book cover to cover, for example, an adult could engage a child in conversation about its characters and what might happen next in the plot.

“Help Me Get Ready to Read’’ features examples of how to praise younger children on specific skills, like pointing to words and turning the pages.

“The message is that the adult is noticing the details,’’ Kasok said. “It all comes together to make kids feel good about themselves.’’

Complementary activities such as rhyming, dramatic acting, finger play, songs, drawing, and writing further enhance the development of children’s emotional, social, language, and cognitive development, the authors say. Their guide also includes a list of 275 books appropriate for reading aloud to children during their first five years.

According to Kasok, it’s never too early to establish reading aloud as a daily routine. For young children with short attention spans, for example, it may be enough to point at a picture of a duck and say, “What does a duck say? Quack, quack.’’ As soon as the child loses interest, a different activity should be introduced.

“Some children are more willing to sit and listen than others, so if a child is restless or not paying attention, tell the story through pictures or agree to finish it later,’’ Kasok said. “The most important thing is to develop a warm, loving, positive connection and experience.

“Many people know that reading aloud is important. However, we’re trying to tell them why it’s important,’’ she added. “I taught reading so I saw the results of it. I know how it can set the groundwork for changing people’s lives.’’

For details on their book, go to the authors’ website,

HONORING LEADERS: The Massachusetts Doctor’s Group will recognize two local residents at an awards banquet Sunday at 2 p.m. at Ken’s Steak House on Route 9 in Framingham.

The Rev. Kevin Crispell, pastor of Elmwood Chapel in Wellesley, is being honored for his efforts to raise awareness of elder abuse in subsidized housing. Stan Klein of Somerville is being recognized for facilitating and expanding the Longwood Medical Area Prostate Cancer Support Group, which meets the first Monday of each month at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

“These two issues are universal problems,’’ said Dr. Lawrence Delaney, a retired pediatric neurosurgeon from Natick who is a founder and chairman of the Massachusetts Doctor’s Group. “We’re fortunate to have leaders to overcome them.’’

Tickets to the awards banquet cost $25. To RSVP, call Delaney at 508-650-9928 or e-mail

AMAZING LIST: Stephanie Kaplan of Newton was recently honored as part of Glamour magazine’s “20 Amazing Young Women’’ presentation during the Glamour Women of the Year Awards in New York City. Chelsea Clinton presented the awards honoring women who are changing the world.

In August, Kaplan was named to Inc. magazine’s “30 Under 30’’ list of top young entrepreneurs.

Kaplan is cofounder and chief executive officer of, an online magazine for college women that has branches at more than 70 schools across the country. She graduated from Harvard University in the spring, and was a member of Newton North High School’s class of 2006.

OUTDOOR CORPS: Local high school students recently completed the Trustees of Reservations’ first Charles River Youth Corps program, earning conservation-based job experience. Michael Gonzalez of Waltham, Eric Heiman of Needham, and Ben Kaplan of Lexington joined other area youths in maintaining the Upper Charles River Greenway in Watertown, Waltham, Weston, and Newton, as well as the Wilson Mountain Reservation in Dedham.

The open-space preservation organization’s Charles River Youth Corps program is dedicated to providing teens with experience in sustainable management of parks and greenways. Throughout the summer and fall, the participants led more than 100 volunteers in completing a range of projects; the list includes clearing 14,780 feet of urban trails, removing 630 baskets of invasive water chestnuts, painting 40 benches and picnic tables, installing four bulletin boards, pruning vegetation, cleaning litter, and painting a 100-foot mural near the Waltham Bleachery.

For more information about participating in the Charles River Youth Corps program or its volunteer projects, call 508-785-0339, e-mail, or go to

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