Prairie Area Reading Council

Winter 2018 Newsletter

From the Desk of the President

Dear Members of Prairie Area,

Welcome to the ‘Winter Reading Season!’ Stay out of the cold! Stay in and read!

We enjoyed seeing you in October and sharing Kate Hannigan’s “Pursuing Facts in a Seemingly Fact-Free World.” Can you believe her ‘rejection letter scroll’ was as long as it was?

Family Fort Night in partnership with Westmont Public Library was so much fun--we can’t wait to do it again!

Are we going to see you soon? Kathleen March never disappoints, and she’s ready with a long list for our “Book Gossip: The Latest and Greatest in Lit” event on January 24. Bring a friend and join us at Andersons in Downers Grove.

We hope you're up for an early spring road trip as we look forward to the 2018 Illinois Reads Launch and Book Festival on March 10 in DuQuoin!

April showers won’t dampen our spirits as we welcome Roxanne Owens presenting “I See What You're Saying . . . Using Images to Expand Literacy” on April 10.

How are you taking advantage of your membership in PARC/IRC? Have you participated in a Wired Wednesday Webinar? Chatted with Secondary Reading Council via Twitter chat (1st Sunday of the month, 7:00 p.m. @SecondaryRead)? Utilized the Literacy Links in the iCommunicator? Checked out the Reading Journal for the latest research in the field? Looked to the Illinois Reads list for your book club's next read? Make the IRC website and your PARC colleagues your ‘go to’ support as we work to teach and promote lifelong literacy.

Have you recruited a new member to PARC? If so, pick up your shirt at our next event! If not, you can purchase a shirt for $8.00. You can never have enough spiritwear, and showing your PARC Pride is a great way to start a conversation about the great things we do in PARC!

Can't wait to see you again soon!

Our best,

Sherry and Jen
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2017-2018 Board Members

Co-Presidents: Sherry Sejnost Jennifer Burisek

Vice President: Sheila Ruh

Recording Secretary: Heather Lopez

Treasurer: Melissa Love

Membership: Laura Bass

Corresponding Secretary: Nicole deVerdier

New Members

Welcome to Prairie Area!

Our newest members:


Kristin Creighton

Victoria Dellinges

Greg Wolcott


Chad Baganz

David Bremer

Ashley Darst

Jennifer Feltz

Rob Johnson

Mary Kulaga

Anna Paige

Carolyn Pakeltis

Erin Rzepka

Josh Schultz

Gina Shaw

Amy Siler

Jennifer Woods


Sarah Cooley

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Illinois Reads Book Review: The Detective’s Assistant by Kate Hannigan

Inspired by Kate Hannigan’s October presentation, I picked up The Detective’s Assistant (which was a 2016 Illinois Reads book). And I couldn’t put it down! It’s a lovely narrative of a young female detective working in Chicago who suddenly finds herself having to care for a young, quick-witted, not-so-polished niece. The two are opposites who end up having more in common than they imagined. Readers in grades 3-7 who enjoy a well thought out, carefully paced narrative chock full of beautiful language, admirable characters, and a few ciphers woven into the story will stay with the text and feel a part of it. It’s likely readers of this text will find themselves wanting to delve into the story-behind-the-story Hannigan tells--of Kate Warne and her work with the Pinkerton Detective Agency and the Underground Railroad.

Jen Burisek

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BOOK REVIEW: This Journal Belongs to Ratchet by Nancy Cavanaugh

Rachel? Ratchet? Who is she? In many ways, Ratchet is not your typical tween girl. She lost her mom when she was five years old and her environmental crusader of a father is homeschooling her. But, mostly she acts as his assistant in the backyard business of repairing cars. That’s how she learned to build an engine and how she earned her nickname.

In other ways, Rachel is very typical. She’s focused on making friends and fitting in. She has huge blow-ups with her dad and procrastinates on her schoolwork. She’s convinced her life would be infinitely better if she could just make some major changes.

Each chapter of the book represents one of Ratchet’s homeschool writing assignments. As she works through them one by one, she uncovers a family secret, deals with the taunts of bullies, finds a true friend, and saves a local park from demolition.

Ultimately, Ratchet realizes that you can’t be yourself until you find out who you really are. Her journey of self-discovery will appeal to many middle grade readers who, like Ratchet, are also searching for their place in this world.

Kristin Kolodziej

4th Grade Teacher, Scott Elementary School, Melrose Park, IL

Service Projects - Sheila Ruh

Prairie Area Reading Council and Westmont Public Library Collaborate

to Support Family Literacy

As Prairie Area continues to collaborate with the Westmont Public Library to support family literacy, we are happy to announce the next event: A Grimm Celebration: Westmont Reads Kick-off Party on Saturday, January 13, 2 – 4 pm. Enjoy storytelling by Megan Wells at 2 pm and crafts, activities, and games at 3 pm. Activity guides will also be available at this event. Participants will be able to sample Jack's magic beans, go on a scavenger hunt to find the basket of goodies for Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother, and more in this celebration to kick-off the Westmont Reads program! It promises to be a great deal of fun. We hope to see you there!

PARC Pride

Thanks to Jon Sikalitis, Prairie Area can boast sharing the love of reading through three brand new Little Free Libraries at schools in Woodridge! Jon chose planning, building, and installing the Libraries as his Eagle Scout Project. Prairie Area is happy to help fill those libraries. Thanks, Jon! Stop by and take a book or leave a book!

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Eagle Scout Project

The road to becoming an Eagle Scout is long and arduous. First the Scout must achieve the rank of Life Scout and, after holding that rank for at least 6 months, may begin the Eagle Scout journey. During that journey, the Scout must show how he had done duty to God, lived the Scout Oath and Scout Law in everyday life, and how it will guide the Scout’s life in the future. Only then may the Scout pursue a total of 21 merit badges, hold a rank of leadership within the troup, and then finally plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, school, or community. Jonathon Silkaitis, son of PARC co-president Sheryl Sejnost, has reached this point and, for his service project, he and his team have built and installed three Little Free Libraries for the following schools in Woodridge: Edgewood Elementary, John L. Sipley and Meadowview. Bravo to Jon for traveling this journey and bringing literacy to the students of Woodridge.

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Teaching Resources - Nicole deVerdier

Teachers! Check out these popular websites for some fresh, new ideas!

Read to Me

Similar to Storyline Online, Read to Me features popular children’s books being read by famous performers. There are activity guides with hands-on ideas, discussion questions, and lesson plans that can easily be adapted to the Common Core State Standards. Entirely free, the site is colorful and engaging.

We Give Books

A Pearson Foundation Initiative, We Give Books offers students a unique opportunity to read for social good. Each book that is read results in a book that is donated to a charity for children. While the books are not read aloud, they allow students to practice “Read to Self” with a good fit book during center time. There are books for children in preschool through fourth grade.

Poetry 4 Kids

Welcome to, the funny poetry playground of children’s author Kenn Nesbitt. Here you will find lots of funny poems and poetry books for children, classic children’s poetry, games, poetry lessons and activities, plus a rhyming dictionary, videos, school visit information and lots more. A great place to create, post, and vote for your favorite poems!

Calling all members!

If anyone is interested in running for the Prairie Area board please email us at

Prairie Area Reading Council

Prairie Area is a professional non-profit organization dedicated to promoting literacy, a love for reading and the improvement of reading instruction.