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Alone in a foreign country, with my husband in a third world ICU suffering multiple organ failure, God summoned his angels. They are the Pierces: Jan and Roger.

Homegrown Readers coverToday, Jan Pierce is a guest on my blog. She will share her secrets about inspiring children to love to read. Jan is a retired teacher and freelance writer who specializes in writing about education, parenting and family life topics. She is the author of the newly-released book, Homegrown Readers: Simple Ways to Help Your Child Learn to Read

Last November, when my husband contracted dengue fever from a mosquito bite, I’d only known Jan vaguely as an author friend on Facebook. During our crisis in India, my only means of communication was via a hospital computer. I got on Facebook and asked for prayers.

Jan Pierce saw my message. Her husband Roger was in India, in Bengaluru, where we were. Deciphering my sporadic messages, the couple discovered our location.

A few days later, Roger stepped into the hospital room. With happy tears upon seeing my husband alive and well, he told us that God had prompted him to pray with fervency. He’d spent countless hours interceding before the Lord for us. Roger had never met us before, but we all held hands and prayed in that hospital room, so far from home. We were all overwhelmed at this amazing connection…

Because of God…

Because of prayers…

Because of…yes, Facebook…

…my husband recovered and I am able to introduce Jan Pierce to you, a wonderful talented compassionate author with a heart for India and a heart for helping kids learn to read.

I’m handing over my blog to Jan. And what’s really cool about her post today is that today March 5th, is UNESCO’s World Book Day. A celebration that encourages children to read. To celebrate, Here’s JAN!!!!!

Thanks, Holly. God is amazing and I am grateful for your husband’s recovery and for your welcoming me here today to talk about What I Wish All Parents Knew…


Today’s busy families are hard pressed to give their children everything they need. Schedules are packed. Kids join soccer and T-ball teams. Families enjoy the outdoors together camping and hiking. Parents take time to teach their children basic kindness and manners, but they often wait to get into that book learning, the reading and writing stuff, until their children enter school.

But here’s the thing. Reading is really important. Virtually all learning takes place through the written word. Children who haven’t been read to, who haven’t listened to fairy tales, poems, tales of curious monkeys and books about real animals, kids who aren’t familiar with books and what’s inside them–these kids are at a disadvantage when they go to school.

The solution is simple. Read to your children. Even if you had unhappy experiences in your own learning to read years, the price of entering school without lots of experience with books is too high. Kids soon learn that the other children know what’s going on. They don’t. They’ve just begun their school career and already feel like a failure.

Reading aloud to children is, ideally, a wonderful thing. It can be the ritual before naps and bedtimes. It can be what the family does on Saturday mornings while they eat their pancakes. Sharing favorite stories should be a positive experience for the whole family. If that isn’t the case, something needs to change. If reading isn’t enjoyable to you as the parent, suck it up and do it anyway. (You’ll change your mind.)

Regular read aloud times should be part of the family schedule. Let children choose some of the titles. Read a variety of fiction and non-fiction books and don’t forget that maps, comic books, the Sunday comic strips and even instruction manuals are all reading materials. It’s never too late to start because it’s just that important to success in school.

When your children enter kindergarten let them be the kids who have heard at least five hundred stories. Let them be the ones who understand that stories have characters and settings and plots. Let them know which way is up on a page and that writing goes from left to right. Teach them to love books and reading. Your reward? A happy, successful reader.

Holly: Thanks for that message Jan, could you share a little more about your background.

Sure, I’m a wife, mother and grandma to three terrific grandsons. I retired eight years ago from a long career in education. I taught all grades from kindergarten through fourth grade, but mainly taught first and second grade, so I had ample time to teach children to read. I earned a reading endorsement when I got my Master’s degree because I wanted to understand more about the nuts and bolts of reading. I spent the last two years of my career as a reading specialist.

When I retired, I determined to stay active and soon realized I had two new “jobs.” One involves Teams India, the NGO my husband and I founded to do missions work in India. The second is I became a freelance writer. I’d never published a thing before 2007, but soon found that I love the challenge and everything related to the writer’s life.

And getting involved in the writing life is what brought Jan and I together on Facebook. Isn’t this an amazing connection? And my blog is all about connections.

Holly: Before you go, Jan. I really want to stress the benefits a parent will get from reading your book? Can you tell us how it will help parents and their children?

Sure. Any parent who wants their child to gain reading skills in English will benefit from the information in this book. It’s important that parents understand English is not a highly phonetic language and because of that children need more than phonics to read well. They need to use thinking strategies to find the meaning in a text. If they read the words perfectly, but don’t understand the meaning, they haven’t really read. All the strategies they need to solve reading problems are found in Homegrown Readers.Homegrown Readers cover

And below are links to Jan’s site and to purchase her book: Homegrown Readers: Simple Ways to Help Your Child Learn to Read

CONNECT WITH JAN: Website: www.janpierce.net and www.onehandfulofrice.org / Facebook author page / Jan’s Amazon author page / Linked In / Pinterest

Amazon.com to buy Jan’s Book /  To purchase Jan’s Book from Barnes and Noble

Beautiful beach and seaHolly: If you’d like to hear more about our drama-filled visit to Tsunami-devastated Nagapattinam in our “then and now” book, Tsunami 2004 – Still Wading Through Waves of Hope, click here. The nonfiction book takes a look back at our visit ten years ago and our return trip this last November and the challenges and surprises we encountered. It also chronicles the lives of several orphans.

But, first, I urge you, parents, teachers, aunts, uncles grab Jan’s book from the links above. It’s a must for any one who cares about helping a child they love learn to read!