Dear Houston Community

Dr. Julie Baker Finck reading at the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff Reading Event.

Dr. Julie Baker Finck reading at the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff Reading Event.

I have yet to meet anyone who did not spend countless hours watching the Summer Olympics. The Olympics, after all, are the world’s largest sporting event. Regardless of which event I watched – gymnastics, swimming, beach volleyball, or track and field—I was in awe of the athletes' physical talent and mental acuity. Just think about the amount of time the athletes spend each and every day training to compete for a medal on the world stage.

Whether it be a sport we wish to master or some other skill, how much we practice and the quality of the time we spend practicing matter. Reading is no different. In fact, to master reading, practice is a key determinant of our success. And, having a great coach to help fine-tune our reading skills can make all the difference in how well we read. Unlike sports, which oftentimes require certain physical requirements to excel, reading is a skill we can all master. We simply need to practice the right things and practice them often.

Do you know that 90 percent of children ages 6 to 17 say they are more likely to finish a book they have picked out themselves? It is also the case that having books in the home is a more significant factor than family income in determining whether a child will be a frequent reader.  Simply put, choice and access matter when it comes to reading practice. During National Literacy Awareness Month in September, we are promoting the following five simple steps, informed by research, that every family is encouraged  to make a habit: (1) provide your children access to digital and/or printed material in your home; (2) allow children to select the books they read; (3) set aside at least 15 minutes each day for your children to read independently or for you to read with your children; (4) ask questions and talk with your children about what they are reading; and
encourage and motivate them to read more. Taking these steps will help your children become master readers. Learn more about literacy facts on our website and help us spread the word to your friends, family and colleagues.

Practicing the fundamentals of reading is extremely important. Be sure you are practicing the right fundamentals with your children. Want to learn more about great coaching strategies to boost your children’s reading skills? Check out the brief videos we developed in partnership with Neuhaus Education Center. They demonstrate activities you can easily do at home to reinforce oral language, phonemic awareness and decoding skills, all fundamentals of learning how to read.

If you don’t have a striving reader in your home, consider becoming a coach and helping a child or adult go for gold in reading. Don’t know where to sign up to become a coach? Go to or contact us at We would be pleased to assist in matching you or your team with a volunteer opportunity that fits your passion and schedule.

Thank you for helping to make Houston the most literate city in the world.



Julie Baker Finck, Ph.D.