The latest news, this month’s free book and poem, and other helpful resources from JillE Literacy.
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JillE Literacy

May 2023

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Trivia Tidbits

  • May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Jewish American Heritage Month, Mental Health Awareness Month, and Get Caught Reading Month.

  • May Day is always the first day in May. In the Northern Hemisphere, May Day heralds the arrival of the spring planting season.

  • Surprisingly, the distress call “mayday” has nothing to do with May Day or the month of May at all. It comes from the French phrase, “m’aidez,” which means “help me!”

Book Bag

Too often, students whose culture, ethnicity, or background fall outside the mainstream never see themselves represented in the texts they read in school. Asian-American author Cindy Pon explains it this way:

“I was a voracious reader as a child, but it was only as an adult, looking back, when I realized that I had never read a book with a character who looked like me.”

Culturally responsive texts

All children deserve to see characters like themselves in the books they read. These books are known as mirror texts, since they reflect the reader’s identity and experience.

Students also deserve to read window texts, so called because they provide a window into the lives and experiences of others.

The same book can be a mirror text to some and a window text to others.

Speak Like Us, our featured book of the month, is one of those books. It tells the story of Phone, a refugee from Myanmar, who comes to his new school having experienced the hardships of a refugee camp and speaking not a single word of English.

Stories like these help students understand and build empathy for the experiences of other students, family members, people in their community, and even themselves.

JillE Literacy believes in providing all students with diverse texts that give them a mirror to themselves and a window to the world.

It’s texts like these that open eyes, minds, and hearts.

Easy and explicit instructional tools

Reading shouldn’t be frustrating. 
Teaching reading shouldn’t be, either.

This is why the diverse texts in JillE Literacy also include built-in tools for teaching a wide range of reading and writing skills. 

  • Take & Teach teaching versions feature instructional panels for the teacher, which show how to support decoding, word analysis, vocabulary, comprehension strategies, critical thinking, fluency, and text structure and features in a way that is both explicit and contextual.

  • Corresponding lesson cardsprovide even more support for decoding and word analysis skills, a social-emotional learning mini-lesson for every fiction book, strategies and scaffolds for English learners, and five independent learning activities.

  • Partner Talk and Going Solo activities on the final few pages of the book use a READ-TALK-WRITE approach to get students thinking, talking, and writing about aspects of the text that they can apply to their own writing.

  • Printable graphic organizers and other meaningful response activities provide hands-on support for writing and other key skills.

These embedded teaching tools minimize the time-consuming preparation usually required for small-group instruction, while helping teachers take advantage of every instructional opportunity.

How does JillE Literacy support the science of reading?

See for yourself!

Visit the Book of the Month page during May and June to access Speak Like Us and all of its teacher and student resources.

Poetry Power

Poetry is a great way to engage and energize students, filling their minds with language in preparation for an enjoyable and productive literacy block.

The poetry lessons in JillE Literacy are short, repeated shared reading experiences that boost language and literacy skills in small chunks of time. This makes them a perfect warm-up or transition activity that helps all students experience reading success and develop a positive learning mindset.

The five-day lesson plan on the back of every poster-size Poetry Card makes it easy to read and reread the poem over the course of a week, building new literacy skills each day.


Support comprehension, oral language, and critical thinking by leading discussion about the illustration, reading the poem, and having students ask and answer questions.


Build vocabulary by rereading the poem together, focusing on domain-specific, multiple-meaning, and invented words and identifying strong verbs and descriptive adjectives.


Develop reading fluency by calling attention to punctuation and illustrative text and rereading with expression.


Reinforce, practice, and apply phonics and spelling skills by identifying spelling patterns, segmenting multisyllabic words, and discussing possessive apostrophes and contractions.


Tap into creativity and performance by providing opportunities for recitation, movement, music, illustration, and other forms of creative response.

All the prep has been done, so teachers can spend less time planning and more time teaching.

Check out “Destination Mars” on the Poem of the Month page throughout May and June to access the poem and five-day lesson plan.

New & Noteworthy

Jill Eggleton and the JillE Literacy team were honored to participate in an educational roundtable hosted by New Zealand Consul-General, Ambassador Jeremy Clarke-Watson, and moderated by “The Relentless Principal,” Hamish Brewer.

At the Los Angeles event, educators from the United States and New Zealand exchanged ideas in an insightful discussion about the challenges of post-Covid literacy learning both locally and globally. Topics included the importance of:

  • Critical and creative thinking skills,

  • Social-emotional learning,

  • Student engagement, and

  • Diversity and inclusion.

Afterwards, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt sponsored an outstanding reception, where we had the opportunity to share a little about New Zealand culture, food, and our relationships with our land and ancestors, along with some special gifts (koha) for the roundtable participants.

Our heartfelt thanks go out to our host; to our HMH, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, and Education New Zealand partners; to our moderator, Hamish Brewer; and to the exceptional educators who made the event the success that it was: Pedro Noguera, John Broome, Denise Collier, Andrew Jenkins, Lorraine Mora Perez, and Shawna Petit-Dinkins. We are humbled by the work you do on behalf of students and teachers.

Gratis Gifts

Check out our Samples and Downloads page for these free resources and more!

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