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Freedom Schools Alphabet Song: Right 2 Read Philly

Freedom Schools Alphabet Song: Right2ReadPhilly

It’s rare—all too rare—to come across anything that combines family joy and a love of reading with Black pedagogy. Yes, Black pedagogy, that is, teachings based on Black culture, history and worldviews.

Which is why I’m happy to talk up Right2ReadPhilly, a campaign designed to make it easier for families to do things together that have been proven to help nurture a love of reading, including the FREEDOM SCHOOLS ALPHABET SONG. 

The alphabet song we all know helps children learn letter names. The FREEDOM SCHOOLS ALPHABET SONG teaches them the sounds letters make.

Created by Black teachers of the Freedom Schools movement, as an act of ingenuity in response to great need, the FREEDOM SCHOOLS ALPHABET SONG helps our children grow into strong readers by matching letter sounds with letter names and letter shapes. 

There are not nearly enough books mirroring the beautiful and powerful diversity of our communities. One critical way to change that is to protect our children’s right to read so they become the readers who demand more diversity in literature and the writers and publishers who can meet this demand. 

Right2ReadPhilly is an ever-expanding community of caring grownups who all believe a family’s love is the most powerful force for this kind of social change. To be clear, in protecting our children’s right to read, we families are fighting for nothing short of educational equity and racial justice. 

So, families, we invite you to check out the FREEDOM SCHOOLS ALPHABET SONG on There are easy instructions and helpful tips to get started. The site also features several Philly families who had a direct hand in creating the campaign. 

Watch Sharif El-Mekki, the founder and CEO of the Center for Black Educator Development (whose mission is to rebuild the national Black teacher pipeline that was decimated after desegregation) as he shares the history of the FREEDOM SCHOOLS ALPHABET SONG. He recalls the lessons from his youth, on a West Philly family member’s porch, that helped jumpstart his own reading journey. 

Right2ReadPhilly seeks to bring overdue public attention to underappreciated, if not marginalized, learning strategies—like Freedom Schools movement’s FREEDOM SCHOOLS ALPHABET SONG at a time when school districts across the country are trying to re-integrate more phonics-based teaching into their curriculum.

In a world where young Black male characters are under-represented in children’s literature, the campaign features Rocky, a young Black boy, as its main ambassador. He’s not only a strong reader with a cool personality, but a young advocate pushing for children’s right to read. 

Right2ReadPhilly may be Philly-born, but the right to read is not just a Philly thing. As Chris Stewart, award-winning education activist, student of educology, writer and speaker on #ChildJustice, first coined, “the revolution will be literate.” 

Charnaie Gordon is a DEI advocate, blogger, podcast host and digital creator. She previously served on the National Advisory Board for Reading is Fundamental’s Race, Equity, and Inclusion (REI) initiative. 

Heseung Song, Ed.D. is a Harvard-trained developmental psychologist and president/CEO of Mighty Engine, the agency facilitating the Right2ReadPhilly campaign.

Want to learn the lyrics to the Freedom Schools Alphabet Song? Use this FREE phonics poster to help you practice.

BONUS: Download this beautiful alphabet FREEBIE on the Right2ReadPhilly website.



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