Raising Real Readers is a fun and helpful resource for busy parents, grandparents, and caregivers to learn practical skills to support children on their journey of becoming lifelong readers. We offer:
- tips for making reading enjoyable and relaxing for the whole family
- advice about learning challenges that children face
- specific book recommendations that align with every child’s interests, age, and ability
- resources for navigating school administration, public libraries, nonprofits, and education policy arenas to advocate for better quality reading initiatives and more support for teachers
As parents, we recognize that reading and literacy work at school can often involve a lot of limitations and boundaries. Teachers are often required to focus strictly on standards and test preparation skills. But at home, the world of reading can be a fun and inviting place that augments what your child is doing at school. Raising Real Readers is here to help.
Raising Real Readers gives families an infusion of fun into daily reading routines at home.
Raising Real Readers was started by Renee Bowman and Nicole Wiltrout, sisters and moms living and working in Indiana. Their motherhood journey began in 2007 when Nicole convinced new mother Renee not to bring her newborn son back to the hospital at 3 a.m. during a particularly rough first night at home. They’ve been helping each other through various parenting dilemmas ever since.
While the website Raising Real Readers began in 2018, the idea has been years in the making. Renee was visiting Nicole’s family, and noticed that Nicole was covering up the pictures in all the read-aloud books that her 5-year-old son was bringing home from school. Renee asked why she was doing that, and Nicole explained that if her son looked at the pictures, he would just guess what the words were instead of sounding them out. It was at that moment that Renee, an elementary school teacher, realized that parents needed more education and support when it comes to encouraging their children to love and enjoy reading. (Because visual clues are important tools for beginning independent readers… if, like Nicole, you didn’t know that, then you’re in the right place.)
About our Name:
Raising: nurturing our children the best we know how. Real: as in authentic. We want parents and caregivers to feel comfortable being themselves. You don’t have to know it all–who does? Readers: not just worksheet ninjas, but humans that make reading a part of their lives in order to process stories and information to understand the world around them and make it a better place.
Kids should think of themselves as authentic readers: consumers of words, with opinions that matter
About the Founders:
Renee Bowman is an elementary school librarian and reading interventionist. Not afraid of change, she has been a first, fourth, and fifth grade teacher, as well as a district reading specialist. Not afraid of moving, these years were spent in an international school, suburban, urban, and now rural school. She has been a teacher of the year in two districts, spoken before the Indiana State Board of Education, and attends Nerd Camp each year (think: 2,000 teachers, librarians, authors and illustrators away at camp!) She is a mother of a boy, age 11, and a girl, age 8. You can find her in the concession stand in between her daughter’s softball games, doling out hot dogs and book recommendations or tagging along on spontaneous family adventures, book in hand.
Nicole Wiltrout is a freelance writer and aspiring children’s book author. She has written for a variety of publications, websites, and organizations, including Expedia, Ciao Bambino, Family Travel Critic, Visit Indiana, and Anglotopia. She is the author of “Dispatches from England,” a compilation of essays she wrote weekly for three years chronicling her family’s time as American expats living in England. Before she became a full-time writer, she worked in communications in the nonprofit and government sectors. She is a mother of two boys, age 9 and 12. When she’s not writing, reading, or walking around her neighborhood park, she’s planning their next vacation to destinations around the world or cheering her kids on from the sidelines of their soccer games.
Renee and Nicole both grew up with a love of reading (a shout-out to their mom for weekly trips to the public library!). They cried when Mary Ingalls went blind on Little House on the Prairie, they laughed when Ramona Quimby tried to run away from home, and they obsessed over the Babysitters Club. When they weren’t reading, they were roller skating and choreographing dances to 80s Madonna music and begging their mom to take them swimming. As adults, they can barely get through a quick phone call without sharing their latest favorite book.
On Raising Real Readers, you’ll find articles written by both Renee and Nicole, sometimes individually, sometimes collaboratively. A perfect metaphor for their lifelong bond as sisters and best friends, and their mutual love of the written word.