Vail Valley Rotarians give a hand up to young readers |

Vail Valley Rotarians give a hand up to young readers

‘I Can Read Songs’ developed by a local Rotarian, reading specialist

Reading specialist and Rotarian LaDonna Wicklund developed "I Can Read Songs." Local Rotary clubs have made it available for free to parents and teachers.
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'I Can Read Songs' "I Can Read Songs" resources are available to teachers and parents at no cost. Teachers and parents can print First Books and Big Words at Families can enjoy the videos at For information, email and request the family resources.

VAIL — See those little kids singing and dancing? They’re learning to read.

LaDonna Wicklund developed the “I Can Read Songs” DVDs and accompanying books — a sing-along, dance-along language lesson. They boost literacy skills through music and movement and are especially helpful for bilingual children and those with few literacy resources in their homes, Wicklund said.

Wicklund was a reading specialist for 40 years.

“I knew what the children needed to be taught to give them a boost in reading and writing words so they could be successful in first grade,” she said.

Like any other skill, the best way to learn is to start young, Wicklund said.

It takes a creative village

Wicklund wrote the songs to help her kindergarten students. Well, she and a bunch of other creative types. She lived in Iowa City, Iowa, at the time near the University of Iowa, which supplied an endless supply of creativity.

“When it came to writing the songs, I can sing. But I had to find someone to put the notes on paper and play the instruments,” Wicklund said.

She even found opera students to sing them and a videography professor to do the video.

“The University of Iowa is a very creative community,” Wicklund said.

When she moved to the Vail Valley she saw the need in Spanish-speaking communities and adapted her program to “I Can Read Songs DVDs & Sight Word Fun for Los Ninos.”

The songs are in English. The directions are in both English and Spanish helping bilingual children advance in both languages, and so the parents can get involved.

“The parents love having a way to help at home and the children benefit from the empowerment of their families to help with literacy,” Wicklund said.

Rotarians and reading

Vail Rotary and Edwards Rotary partnered with I Can Read, Inc. to gift the DVDs to kindergarten families in Gypsum and Avon elementary schools.

That was eight years and 800 families ago.

“Rotary Clubs have been very generous. Literacy is one of their thrusts,” Wicklund said.

Kindergarten teachers give the songs and books to families to use at home, “to sing and dance their children into reading and writing sight words,” Wicklund said.

Knowing those sight words helps the children read print, Wicklund said.

Tonya Farmer teaches kindergarten at Gypsum Elementary School and gives the children the DVDs and books when she makes home visits.

“It is great to walk up to the student’s house with a fabulous gift,” Farmer said. “The kids really love getting the book and almost all of them hugged the book and started looking at it right away. The families are very appreciative of the books also.”

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