The Reading Partnership
Children & Youth
A WORLD WHERE EVERY KID LEARNS — AND LOVES – TO READ
The Challenge: In Canada, Black students face disproportionately high rates of suspension, dropout, expulsion, and streaming into applied rather than academic programs. Black and racialized kids, and children in poor neighbourhoods, are much more likely to lag behind in reading skills — with lifelong consequences. Educational systems lack the data, the training, the evidence base, and the flexibility to adapt literacy and learning for the kids and families most vulnerable to being left behind.
The Solution: With The Reading Partnership (TRP), Camesha Cox is enhancing literacy levels for all kids. TRP provides wraparound, early-stage, evidence-based supports to narrow disparities in literacy outcomes. Working directly with parents and caregivers, TRP offers free, culturally inclusive resources and programming that centre Black and racialized families and engage parents in their kids’ learning.
Teaching all our kids to read
The facts, as Camesha Cox lays them out, are stark: “We know that if a kid is struggling to read by third grade, the likelihood of them catching up is slim to none without targeted interventions. We know by kindergarten which kids will struggle to read by Grade 3. We know that, in Toronto, Black, Indigenous, and racialized children, kids who live in poor neighbourhoods, and kids who are being raised in low-income homes are falling behind at highly disproportional rates. We know that those rates have skyrocketed since COVID-19. And we know that these disparities in literacy have devastating educational, economic, and social consequences.”
And what is our systemic response to those facts?
Camesha, founding director of The Reading Partnership (TRP), pauses. “We don’t have one,” she says. Camesha created TRP as a direct response to the systemic failings of local school systems to teach all the kids, in all of their classrooms, how to read and write using evidence-based strategies and interventions.
TRP, which was founded in 2011 in Camesha’s Toronto community of Kingston-Galloway/Orton Park, partners with school boards, early learning centres, and other community organizations to recruit and train local educators, equipping them with outreach tools to engage with families and communities. Its cornerstone Reading Partnership for Parents (RPP) program is a free, weekly, play-based, holistic literacy program that uses evidence-based approaches to help parents learn the skills they need to teach their kids to read. The Reading Program On Demand (RPOD) is an asynchronous version of RPP that allows families to move through the curriculum at their own pace.
These programs, explains Camesha, aim to repair the relationship between Canadian education systems and Black and other racialized communities — including parents and guardians, who often come to the program with the baggage of their own negative educational experiences.
Other TRP programs include Kids ReadTO, a virtual book club for kids ages 9 to 12 across the GTA, where participants get to meet their favourite authors during live Q&As. 360° Stories is a writing workshop for young creatives, who develop the stories they want to tell, and then are thrilled to see their work published in an anthology. “They leave the program published authors, celebrated by their friends, family, and community members at a book launch,” says Camesha.
TRP also provides families with a “Lit Kit,” which includes all the tools necessary to promote early reading success for kids at home and in the classroom — like decodable TINY TALES books featuring diverse characters and stories. Importantly, Black and racialized kids and their parents see themselves reflected in literacy materials.
“TRP’s tested and proven programs help kids grow into literacy heroes,” says Camesha. “Children leave our programs more capable and confident in their literacy skills, and better prepared to reach their potential.”