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November 17, 2022

The little green book: Rita Tastad | My Bookmark

Rita Tastad (she/her) is our community engagement associate on our national team. She originally learned to read from a little green book in Russian, which is her first language. 

“When I was around five, my grandma would sit down with me for an hour or two each day and help me sound out words and learn the letters of the alphabet. It was all out of this green book that was for kids to learn to read in Russian. It’s a special memory for me and I still have a copy of that book.”

As her reading skills became stronger and expanded to the English language, she started diving into longer books. 

“I finally got to the point where I could read a short chapter book and actually understand most of it. That’s when I became a huge bookworm,” Rita says. “I would finish a book a day for a period of time because I was so excited to read and learn, and I was understanding what I was reading. I read a lot more sporadically now as an adult, but I wish I still had all that time to sit down and read a book in one sitting.”

A Bad Case Of The Stripes green book

When she was little, one of her favorite books was A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon. These days, when she thinks about reading, three words come to mind: “Excited, satisfied, and absorbed.” 

With the ever-increasing diversity of kids’ books on the market today, Rita has one genre in mind that she hopes to see more of: “I wish I saw more books about my Eastern European culture. Moving to the States when I was young meant that I didn’t get as much time in my home culture as I did in the culture I moved to,” she says. “If I had more books about my heritage, it would’ve helped me learn about my culture and get a better understanding as to why I felt like I didn’t fully fit in with my peers (because of our cultural differences).”

Rita believes that stories like these are powerful and can help budding young readers in so many ways. “[Books] can help them learn more about themselves by reading about characters who are similar to them; it can help them learn about their own emotions and feelings and how to get through tough situations. All of this can help students feel more confident in themselves and in turn be able to stand up for themselves and their opinions.” 

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