Helping children love reading is in Paula Ruesch’s DNA. She is the founder of Reading With RIK and has been an elementary school librarian for the past 20 years.
Paula’s enthusiasm for motivating young readers is well-known throughout the school and the community. Anyone can come into the library and get the perfect book recommendation that matches their interests and reading level. It’s also physically impossible for her family to walk around town without having at least 2-3 people stop and talk about children’s literature.
As the elementary school librarian, Paula has gone above and beyond to help children fall in love with reading. One example is her creation of the Newbery Reader Award. To obtain the Newbery Reader Award, children must read 50 Newbery Award winning books and write a report on each book. If they accomplish this, they get a $50 prize, a Newbery Reader Award trophy, and their name on a special plaque. Hundreds of children have developed a deep love of reading as a result of their participation in the Newbery Reader Award program.
As part of Paula’s commitment to keep children reading voraciously and to prevent the summer slide, she created an in-demand summer reading camp. During the reading camp, children would read one book a week for 6-weeks. This was when the idea for RIK was born.
Paula noticed how kids loved the books, but it was sometimes challenging to get them to finish reading them at a demanding pace of one a week. So to incentivize them, she created kits with story-related prizes and “think pieces” that kids could open as they read.
The kits were a hit with kids, and parents couldn’t believe the magic they were experiencing. Not only were the avid readers enjoying the books and kits, but the reluctant readers were turning into bookworms.
Paula’s summer reading camp and her first iterations of Reading With RIK were the perfect action research to show how effective the kits were at motivating reading, increasing comprehension, and helping children love books.
With the success of the reading camps and encouragement from others who had seen reading miracles in their children, Paula decided to join the direct-to-consumer world. She turned RIK into a reading product she could share with readers worldwide—not just within her small community.
Paula is the heart, soul, and years of experience behind Reading With RIK. Her co-founders are Daniel Ruesch, Morgan Ruesch, and Ashley R. Cummings. They all bring different skills to the table, and their main goal is to help more children find Paula’s product and fall in love with reading.