WRADvocate Profile: Lyssa Turner Sahadevan

Lyssa Turner Sahadevan is our WRADvocate from Georgia. She is a wife, mom, and a teacher passionate about books and early literacy.

To celebrate WRAD, Lyssa is planning a cross-grade level “book buddy” reading, with bookmarks for all the students at her school. She's also inviting guest readers, and organizing a $1 jean day for staff, with proceeds going to LitWorld. She's also organizing book donations to a local pre-school in honor of the day.

We are excited to have her on board! Read on to learn more about Lyssa:

1. Can you share some of your earliest memories of reading and how they impacted you?
One of my earliest assignments in my first education class was to visit the library and look through each part of the children’s section. (That assignment rocked by the way!) I was looking through the picture books and
came across Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See by Eric Carle. The memories came rushing over me! I stared at the cover and it truly took me back in time. I remembered the pictures, the words, the funny looking teacher and the feeling was amazing. I remembered my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Moore. I remembered how good that book made me feel. I remembered the pattern, the rhythm…I knew that book and felt like it knew me.

2. Is there a particular book that has changed your life in some way and why?
This is hard! There have been many books that have changed my life. One book sticks out to me as a teacher and storyteller. Holes by Louis Sachar was the first non-picture book/first grade-ish book I read just for fun. A friend recommended it and I was honestly hesitant. As I started reading, I could not put it down! I could hear the story in my head. This recommendation introduced me to a world of literature I did not know as a primary teacher. I have since read Frindle by Andrew Clements, Love That Dog by Sharon Creech, Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo and so many more. When I see my former students I can chat and recommend these books to them and vice versa. They love it! Our reading relationship has continued and that has changed my life.

3. How has what you've read influenced you professionally?
It’s funny. Books I read for any reason influence me professionally in one way or another. If I am reading a book with my preschool son, I am honing my teacher real aloud skills. If I am reading chick lit, I am able to share with my first graders how I read for fun and how I can go on adventures with the characters in
my book. If I am reading a teacher resource book, I can apply the new strategies and show my students (and colleagues) how I am learning from what I read. If I am reading an article or blog post, I can share with students how valuable short reads are and how I can quickly respond and interact with this type of text and
connect with readers around the world. Everything I read influences me professionally. Just one more reason I love being a teacher.

4. What advice would you give to teachers, parents and caregivers who want to reach their struggling readers?
Parents and Caregivers: Read, read, read with your child every singleday. Find books at the thrift store,  bookstore, and my favorite…the library. Let your child look at pictures, talk about the pages, and read them together. Start now.

Teachers: Invite your students to read books on their independent level in cozy spaces in your classroom. Allow them to talk and share their book thoughts. Do this everyday. Make time starting tomorrow.

Parents, Caregivers, and Teacher Friends: If you have a struggling reader, don’t wait to ask for help. Have open conversations with each other about your concerns. This is a tough road but working as a team will make it a smoother ride!

5. Will you share with us some final meditations on the power of the read aloud and of reading in general to the emotional lives of children and for all people?

No one says it better than Turner, my 3 year-old little boy, “Mommy, books are my friends.” Books are our friends. They evoke emotions and go on adventures with us. Sharing books by reading aloud during a visit to school, an elderly friend in the hospital, a friend’s child, or your own children builds a bond and makes a memory. You have a talking point forever.

To learn about Lyssa, follow her on Twitter on @lyssareads and on her website, www.mymommyreads.blogspot.com