Monday, December 17, 2012

Joke Puppet Movie!!!

Check out our first Puppet Movie. Find it on YouTube at:

Our channel is LitAllianceOrg.

Students in a program at the Eugene Gregory Memorial Youth Academy created this joke movie. The academy is a school for students who have been either suspended or expelled from a Seminole County school for an off-campus felony or have completed a Level Program of Juvenile Incarceration. These students, struggling with social and educational systems, are given the opportunity to provide an entertaining and educational program for elementary school students in their community. By using puppets and creating a movie, students develop teamwork, leadership and presentation skills while enhancing their appreciation and understanding of children's literature thus making the connection between reading and educational success. During this weekly program the students are given the materials and guidance to write, act, film, edit, and produce a 30 minute book-based puppet movie. The movie will be presented in schools and other educational forums as well as be available through the Internet.

We are excited to offer this program to these energetic teens who are improving their own lives by making a difference in our community.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Spice up your holidays with books!

Yes, giving a book as a gift during the holidays is a solid idea. Books last for years if not forever, they can be beautifully illustrated and written. They make the receiver a better person because of the literary skills, information, content, or issues in the book.  
But let’s take that book idea and spice it up!
Idea  #1 – Use books as an advent calendar and count down to Christmas by opening one book each day.  Choose 25 days, 12 or 5 days before Christmas. Or open a book each day during Hanukkah. Each night that you open a book, read the book with your children before bed. Then add the beautiful or playfully illustrated book to your holiday decorations. Children’s books look great on your mantel, buffet or above the kitchen cabinets nestled amongst the holly and wreaths.
Idea #2 - Wrap books you already own. Then unwrap one book each night. Let your family be surprised by what book is unwrapped. Again, read the book before bed and use the book as a holiday decoration. Continue the tradition each year.

Idea #3 - Give one book: a children’s chapter book, a craft, experiment, joke, or riddle book, or a collection of fairytale or folktales. Then read a chapter or poem or joke or do something from the book each day as you count down to or celebrate your holiday.   

Idea #4 - Don’t wrap the book. Start with books as holiday decorations. Then allow your family to pick a different book to read each night.   

Idea #5 – Make paper ornaments, vases, apples, or oranges from books. What! – you say! Cut a book! – you say! Let me explain.  Sadly, there are books that have lost their purpose and are on their way to a landfill. Take those books and give them new life. Make them into holiday art. Using templates, cut them into shapes, add some color, fan them and make a festive decoration.  Check out books such as Playing with Books by Jason Thompson.

Idea #6 – Give a folded book as a gift. Fold the pages of a book to create a message. Click here for directions on how to create a book with the word READ emphasized. 

Idea #7 – Create altered holiday books with your friends. Ask a group of friends to each choose a discarded book. Then have each friend take a turn with each book. They alter the book by adding pop up features, artwork, collage techniques, or fabric. As you and your friends create beautiful individual pages, you create unique, charming and personal holiday books for each member of your group. Check out books such as Altered Art by Terry Taylor.

Speaking of books, if you're going to make any kind of purchase from Amazon, please use our Amazon link. By going through our link (click on the graphic below), you can purchase anything you like and you will benefit our nonprofit!

Thank you! Have a wonderful holiday season! 
Enjoy your family, your friends, and your books!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Just a Reverse Blink

Being a mom has taught me a couple of things over the years. For example, I now know that warm food, showers and an alone visit to the restroom are luxuries and not to be taken for granted. I also came to understand that sometimes the wisest lessons in life come from some very unexpected places. 

Driving back from school the other day, I heard the following conversation between my two older daughters, Maya (6) and Alissa (9). 

M: I have 176 reading counting points.
A: I have 238.
M: I know somebody in my class that has only 6!
A: Some people in mine have none. Some people just don't like to read Maya.
M: WHAT???!!!! (with the biggest tone of disbelief ever!) Are they CRAZY?!
A: No… they just don't like it.
M (after a few seconds of thinking): Well, I can read with my eyes shut! 
(A few more seconds of thinking and she continues...) 
I guess if they don't like to read then they COULD read with their eyes shut so they wouldn't have to actually read. But then if they blinked then maybe they would HAVE TO read what was on the page and then they might like it. (Mind you that was all said in one single breath)

I looked at the two of them through the rearview mirror. Maya was staring out the window still in deep thought and Alissa was staring right back at me ready to burst out laughing. So we both did and Maya just looked up and said "What? It's true." Then she went on to start laughing herself. 

Later on, while relating the story to my husband, I started to think about Maya's "reverse blinking" logic. So simple, yet, so brilliant. Think about it, what does blinking when you have your eyes closed entail? Opening your eyes! And yes, sometimes all it takes is that one glimpse. That one reverse blink into a book that intrigues you, and your eyes are suddenly wide open. 

I do believe that there is a reader in each of us out there. And yes, I do think that not all readers were created equal. There are the ones who enjoy long historical novels with intricate details about each event, then those who want the quick entertaining comic strips. Some prefer magazines, others, like my crazy husband, math text books. 

When Maya started reading, she was obsessed with the Rainbow Magic fairy books. We came across them by accident while my older daughter was searching the shelves for some of her books. Now, those fairies drove me insane, the same story over and over with a slightly different character, and an oh-so-predictable ending. Yet at 5 she devoured those books, sometimes reading four or five of them in one day. Did it matter that I thought they were not the most mind engaging literacy out there? Not at all, because at the end of the day I had a child who was developing a immense love for reading. Today she reads pretty much anything that falls into her hands, she reads because she loves to, not because she has to. Today I could kiss Daisy Meadows for putting in writing the right words that kept my child engaged and fascinated.  

The point is, every child should be given the chance of a reverse blink into something that is enjoyable to them. The secret is to find out that one thing that really speaks to your child. Whether it is magic and wizardry, robot building or "Animal Grossology" you are sure to find that one writing style and topic that will reach their inner curiosity. Take them to a library, let them browse the aisles aimlessly in search of the one book calling their name. Browse magazine titles, keep an eye out for comic books of their favorite characters, and jump at the chance of finding a book on "the wildest things people eat around the world" next time they crack a joke about eating worms. Once that first spark ignites, keeping the flame going becomes a lot easier. 

One reverse blink at the right paper, that's all it takes. Simple and brilliant, as only a child could put it.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Charades - a literacy secret!

If you know me, you will not be surprised to learn that I enjoy Charades. And if you really know me well, you know that I LOVE charades! Now, I know there are those who are not keen on charades and you are wondering what charades has to do with literacy - DON’T STOP READING. Give me a chance to explain.

My family has been playing charades my entire life. It started out the normal way; two teams generate slips of paper with titles of books, movies, TV shows, etc, each player is timed as they try to get their teammates to guess a title, the team with the smallest amount of minutes wins. This was good, but our game morphed into something so much better. Over the years timing each player was taken out, whispered hints were offered if someone got stuck, an imaginative approach to titles was encouraged, individuals were urged to try again if their first or second approach didn’t work and storytelling was emphasized over speed. We have so much fun!

But you ask, “Okay, that is nice. You had fun. But why is it a literacy secret?” 

My first answer, “Charades lets you play with words!” It is an awesome way to look at words closely without the drudgery of a lesson. Charades helps you learn to separate sounds, see compound words, count syllables, see incomplete and complete words within other words, realize words have more than one meaning and identify words that sound alike. (See the example below.)

My second answer, “Charades improves your ability to tell a story.” In charades you act out phrases or whole books or movies. This reinforces the performer's ability to move from the beginning to the middle to the end of a story or to identify and highlight important moments. Those who are guessing improve their ability to see a story unfold, to find connections (context clues) that help the guessers understand and identify a story. (See the example below.)

My third answer, “Charades gives you confidence and lets you be silly.” Standing in front of crowd always takes some getting used to. In classrooms, it can be difficult to raise your hand or present a book report if you have never been in front of anyone before. Let charades help your children gain confidence as a presenter. Let them see that they can mess up and keep going until they get it right. Being silly is helpful because we learn to laugh at ourselves and laugh with others. Every once in a while, we all need what charades gives us - the chance to be a quacking duck or a ninja or a cooking rat.

My fourth and final answer, “Charades brings you together as a family!” Okay, yes this is not strictly a literacy advantage. But it is such a nice by product. Spending time together as a family, laughing together, working as a team together, learning together is charades' gift to the world. Mmm, that was a bit dramatic. Sorry.

So, did I convince you? I hope so! Thanksgiving is only a few days away and while the family is all-together, I hope you will give charades a try! Regardless, I am hoping you and yours have a wonderful joy-filled day of thanks!

There are many ways to approach any given title. Here are two examples:

Word play example for the movie Silver Linings Playbook. Show silver has 2 syllables. 1st syllable - give the gesture for a sounds-a-like word; act out a duck, point to your bill; have the guessers work through the alphabet until they get to sil. 2nd syllable - give the sounds-a-like gesture, act cold until they guess brrrr. Let them work through the alphabet to ver. Show that linings has 2 syllables. 1st syllable - act out a person standing in a line. 2nd syllable – Pretend to sing. Show the gesture to expand a word until they guess sings; show the chopping gesture to shorten a word until they guess ings. Show that playbook has 2 syllables. 1st syllable – pretend to play or pretend to be in a play (maybe act some Shakespeare). 2nd syllable – pretend to open and read a book.

Storytelling example for the book The Road by Cormac McCarthy. To successfully use the storytelling approach, it is very helpful if one of the guessers has read the book, seen the movie, etc. Although this book could be done by acting like you are driving a car then pointing down to a road, a storytelling approach is much more interesting. Gesture that you will do the “whole concept”. Gesture “man”; act out being dirty, hungry, alone, pushing a cart. Gesture short “man” next to you until they guess boy. Act out going into a house, looking in a basement door, being horrified, closing the door and leaving quickly.

This website has some helpful charade rules and ideas. But remember, this is your game. Use the rules and ideas you like, throw out the rest. ENJOY!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fun with Eric Carle books

"By helping children get hooked on books today, we are working to prevent illiteracy in the future." This statement by Dave Page, reading expert for Family Literacy of Frontier College is undeniably true. But how do we get kids hooked on books? How do we make reading fun and engaging?

Here is a wonderful interactive activity for The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, published in 1969. Prepare the story by (1) cutting large apple shapes (approx. 8"x 5") from red felt or thick paper, orange shapes from orange felt, etc. continuing with the other foods as described in the book. (2) Cut a circle in each food shape large enough for a hand to pass through. (3) Die a sock green, add google eyes, pipe cleaner antennas, etc. for a caterpillar puppet. (4) Use form core or poster board to cut butterfly wings. (5) Color with markers or decorate the wings with tissue paper art inspired by Eric Carle's illustrations. (6) Cut a hole in the center big enough for a hand to pass through.

Present the story by (1) passing out the food shapes and sock caterpillar to various students. (2) Read the story as the caterpillar sock puppet walks around the room eating food. (3) As each food is eaten invite the students to say, "munch, munch, munch" and slide their food over the head of the caterpillar and onto the arm. When the caterpillar falls sleep, (4) cover the student's felt food arm in brown paper towels. And finally, (5) as the caterpillar wakes up, slide the wings over the caterpillar head. TaDa! Your story has come to a satisfying and magnificent conclusion. Your students and children will love feeding the caterpillar and revealing the beautiful butterfly wings. Repeat the story, allowing children to change parts, reinforcing the many concepts taught in this book. Once this story has been prepared it can be enjoyed year after year.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of more than 70 children's books written and/or illustrated by Eric Carle. It has many teachable concepts such as the days of the week, the life cycle of a caterpillar, healthy foods and more. Using the above activity, this book also teaches self-confidence, cooperation, improvisation, patience and more. Mr. Carle, born in New York, raised in Germany, currently splits his time between the waters of the Florida Keys and the hills of North Carolina. Now 82, Eric Carle is still at work creating art, writing stories and encouraging others. He says, "I can do it, you can do it." Learn more about Eric Carle, his new books and DVD, on his website

If you live in the Oviedo, Florida area, come to the Barnes and Noble in the Oviedo Mall this Saturday, September 8th, to see another Eric Carle book, The Very Busy Spider, presented as an interactive FREE puppet show. This puppet show is being presented as a part of a Literacy Alliance fundraiser. Shop at any Barnes and Noble (excluding college Barnes and Noble) on September 8th or online September 8-13 and a percentage of your sales will benefit our organization. More information can be found on our website:

Leave a comment. Describe your favorite Eric Carle story or activity.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Read and Grow, Laugh and Learn

Lawrence Clark Powell, librarian and author, once said, “Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow.” This quote perfectly sums up my favorite local non-profit organization, The Literacy Alliance. Based in Oviedo, Florida, their central mission is to foster a positive relationship between books and today's youth.

The organization draws from a variety of volunteers. They come from many areas of the community, including Boys and Girls Town youth, high school and college students, and professionally trained youth services librarians. The common denominator of these volunteers is a love of reading and learning and a desire to share that love with their community.

The volunteers’ enthusiasm spills over into the many programs that the group offers for local schools, libraries, homeless shelters, and special events like the UCF Book Fair. This past year, The Literacy Alliance held over seventy events, benefiting more than 2200 children and teens.

They don't just focus on reading, either. The Literacy Alliance's programs include improvisational and scripted puppet shows, skits, magic tricks, songs, and science experiment demos -- anything to excite hungry, young minds.

So, what does Diane Keyes, a founder of The Literacy Alliance, say is the key to their programs? “Paraphrasing from the book Secret Science by the inspirational Steve Spangler, ‘my job is not to teach, but to grab the viewer’s attention and show them that learning is fun. Make them laugh and the learning will follow.’”

From browsing the kudos they’ve received on their website,, it's evident that the group is effective. Teachers applaud their professionalism and middle schoolers go out of their way to procure copies of the books The Alliance features. One quote from a local seventh grader best captures their essential quality, which is to smash preconceived notions about learning: "Thank you for coming to our school and making me laugh. I thought you were going to be boring, but I was way wrong."

Using skill, charm, and an arsenal of silly voices, the group is helping to inspire a new generation of lifetime learners.
Thank you Emily Williams for writing this wonderful article about the Literacy Alliance! Leave us a comment - what is your favorite funny book?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Reading is Not Optional

Walter Dean Myers, author of 104 children's and young adult books, knows that reading is not optional. He knows this from personal experience. He grew up as a foster child in New York City, watched his family disintegrate when an uncle was murdered, and dropped out of high school at age 17. But as Myers tried to deal with his troubles, he found hope in books. The books he read moved him away from his problems because he connected with the characters and their problems. Books allowed him to see situations resolved when life was presenting him with many unresolved issues. Reading helped him see that he could be okay.  

Now, as an author, Myers strives to create characters that young adults can identify with. He wants his stories to reflect their lives, validate their lives and give them hope. This often means that his books are gritty or harsh. In other words, they are real. He has written about teens in jail, in juvenile detention centers, in war. His 1988 award winning novel Fallen Angels, inspired by the death of his younger brother in the Vietnam War, has been banned in some schools because of its language and vivid portrayal of war. But just as Myers looked for hope in books as a teen, he wants his readers to find hope in his characters and in his books.

But regardless of the book (fantasy, science fiction, humor, a Walter Dean Myers book), Myers knows that children and young adults must read. He knows that more and more kids, especially those from poor and minority families, can't read. In fact, 85% of unwed mothers are illiterate,  60% of America's prison inmates are illiterate, and 85% of all juvenile offenders have reading problems. So as the 2012 Library of Congress National Ambassador for young people's literature, Myers is promoting literacy and starting candid conversations about what he describes as "a real crisis." He is encouraging all of us to read and to become reading mentors; reading to children, neighbors, ourselves, pets, and friends. 

The Literacy Alliance also believes in hope for America's teens. Almost of our programs involve teens making a meaningful and fun connection with literature. This past Monday one of our volunteers visited the Seminole County Juvenile Detention Center to engage in a lively discussion of the value of reading aloud to children. The juvenile inmates were interested and opinionated on the subject. The program concluded with booktalks by the Literacy Alliance volunteer encouraging the teens to read an assortment of books which were donated to the detention center. Help us continue our work by participating in our September 8th fundraiser at Barnes & Noble.  Go to our website for more information. And by the way, who have your read to today?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Puppets are Star Motivators!

There are those who have asked, "Puppets!?! What are they good for?" Goodness, so, so much. Let's focus on motivation. Children of all ages who get excited about books and stories are motivated to read. Research shows that motivation is absolutely essential because learning is hard work. The motivation has to be there. Puppets are star motivators. Whenever they are on the scene, it's pure fun and children want more.

Here's an example. Several months ago, in a middle school program, I booktalked Flying Blind by Anna Myers. It was moderately successful. However I reworked the booktalk and added a puppet - Murphy, a macaw and central character in the book. I was thrilled with the reaction to the new booktalk. When I brought Murphy out with a loud, "caw, caw," the students definitely noticed. They smiled, laughed and paid attention. And, in the thank you letters I received after the booktalk, many students mentioned that they were excited to read the bird book.

So dust off those puppets. Retrieve them from storage. Have puppet time in your classroom or home, visit your library and bookstore storytimes, encourage  children to use puppets in their book reviews or booktalks. Bottom line - let puppets help you motivate children to read. Share your favorite puppet story with us!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

It's good to be good!

Teen puppeteers provide storytmes!
Are you interested in a sense of purpose that leads to greater life satisfaction, reduced stress, less depression, living longer, higher levels of health and higher cognitive function? Of course you are! Well, according to a December 2011 Consumer Report article, studies show that being involved in the altruistic nature of volunteering will lead to all of the above! Awesome! So much good from being good. Who knew! And then there are the smiles of those you help, their gratitude and laughter, and the warm glow in your heart. Where can you sign up, you say? Look around, you may know someone who currently volunteers, ask them how to get involved. Or check out these online sources - Heart of Florida United Way and Hands on Orlando Or help us!

Playing with science!
At the Literacy Alliance we love helping others. Sharing the joy of reading and a curiosity for learning is our pleasure and our passion. You love to read and learn too? Excellent. Join us September 8th at Barnes & Noble Book Stores and we will read and learn together. Your purchase on that day in any Barnes & Noble will help us with funds for needed program supplies. Come to the Barnes & Noble in the Oviedo Mall on September 8th for puppet shows, a puppet read-a-thon and fun science experiment demonstrations. More information will soon be posted on our website, facebook and twitter accounts.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Reach Out

The Problem: One-Third of Children Enter School Unprepared to Learn.  Helping with a solution is an organization called Reach Out and Read,  On their website they state that the clear solution is for all adults to speak and read to young children as an everyday nurturing activity. Research shows that words heard on television and radio programs do not
have the same impact as live, spoken conversation. The reason is simple: children want to learn language in order to communicate with the people who mean the most to them: their parents. Of all parent-child activities, reading aloud provides the richest exposure to language. Unfortunately, fewer than half of young American children are read to daily.  Reading aloud is not only one of the best activities to stimulate language and cognitive skills; it also builds motivation, curiosity, and
The Literacy Alliance is helping with the solution by providing storytime programs for preschoolers through the Boys Town Storytelling Troupe and our awesome storytelling volunteers in Head Start facilities, VPKs and the Orlando Homeless Shelter.  By modeling good reading aloud practices and providing quality books to teachers and parents, we excite their interest in reading as a daily classroom or family activity.  It certainly makes sense to reach out and read.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Be Free!

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” 
― Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass, born a slave in 1818, grew to be internationally recognized as an uncompromising abolitionist, a tireless worker for justice and equal opportunity, and an unyielding defender of women's rights. Frederick was taken from his mother when only a few weeks old and abandoned by his grandmother at the age of six. However, at the age of eight, Frederick exchanged food for lessons in reading and writing. When he was a young teenager he purchased a copy of The Columbian Orator which helped him gain an understanding and appreciation of the power of the spoken and written word. He learned that the most effective means to bring about permanent and positive change was through the spoken and written word. Douglas said, "What is possible for me is possible for you."     
Claim your freedom - read!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Slip into another's skin!

“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another's skin, another's voice, another's soul.”

Joyce Carol Oates, award winning author

At The Literacy Alliance we hope to inspire students to read and slip into a different world; to experience something different or something comforting or something thoughtful or something familiar or something uncomfortable. What better way to learn how a person of a different gender or race or economic status or age lives than to step into his or her life by reading a book. We must learn about others in order to understand others. If we can learn and understand, we can relate and we can communicate. If we can communicate, we can overcome anything - it all begins with reading.

In our booktalk program, we go into middle school classrooms and inspire students to read. Here is a 6th grader's comment about one of our booktalks:  "Thank you so much for coming to our school and sharing books with us. I never really like reading, but the way you explained about the books makes me want to read more. The one book that really stood out to me was The Wreckers! I love the way you put the story. The sound effects were amazing and made your voice stand out. I hope that you will be able to come when I am in eighth grade. Thank you so much again!" 

What book allowed you to slip into another's skin or voice or soul?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Children’s fiction - perfect for the bathroom!

“Reading is important. Books are important. . . . Children’s fiction is the most important fiction of all. We who make stories know that we tell lies for a living. But they are good lies that say true things, and we owe it to our readers to build them as best we can. Because somewhere out there is someone who needs that story. Someone who will grow up with a different landscape, who without that story will be a different person. And who with that story may have hope, or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort. And that is why we write.” The Horn Book Magazine, July/August 2009. Quote from author Neil Gaiman's ( acceptance speech for the 2009 Newbery Medal Award winner, The Graveyard Book.

Children's literature is the beginning of a love of reading. Expose your child to literature early and often. Convey to your child that books are a treat and a fun way to spend time. Surround him with books; in the bathtub (I'm not kidding, look for plastic books in book stores), while potty training (a great way to spend time while sitting and waiting for something  to happen), in the car (have books in car pockets for easy access), in strollers (along with a favorite stuffed animal, be sure to store favorite books), at grandma's house (be sure relatives and babysitters have books available). 

And choose with care the books to surround your child. Spend time in the library browsing through the books. Choose authors your friends, librarians, or educators have recommended. Authors such as Eric Carle, Jan Thomas, Mo Willems, Leah Wilcox, Quentin Blake, and Mary Ann Hoberman. But also pick books at random and let your child choose the books. You never know when you will stumble upon a real treasure.  

But suppose a random book turns out to be a dud? Not to worry. Not every book speaks to every person. Show your child that she does not have to read everything and anything.  If she begins a book and it isn't of interest, let her put it down. Perhaps she'll come back to it later or perhaps just return it unfinished. Let her know that starting a book does not mean it must be finished. Do not worry, a book of worth will always hold her attention. Soon she will learn that books are stories that bring hope, or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort and let her view other lives and other places. If a book is taking her somewhere she wants to go, she will finish that book.

The photo at the beginning of this article shows a young girl reading in a most amusing location. I once found my son reading under the dining room table. I loved it, it was adorable. Where is the oddest place you have found your child reading?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Key to Reading is Desire

"In concentrating almost exclusively on teaching the child HOW to read, we have forgotten to teach him to want to read. And there is the key: desire."  This quote from Jim Trelease (, highlights the need for children to love reading. As parents we get to help develop that love of reading by simply reading with our children. Sitting down with our children and spending time quietly reading a book will bring laughter, smiles, and an enjoyable moment. Each reading moment will help our children enjoy reading more and more. They will want to hide in their covers and read on their own! And the more they read, the better readers they become and the more their lives are enriched.

My children are in their twenties now, but when they were younger, I enjoyed reading many books with them. When they were in elementary school, one of the books we enjoyed reading together was A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck. What books have you read with your child/children?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Books have the power to change us!

This quote from Clockwork Angel by best selling young adult author, Cassandra Clare, 
is our quote of the week!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Maurice Sendak and art in children's literature

"You can forget the story," says Amanda Craig, "but the image is there forever." She continues, "An embattled headmaster recently told me that all his life he'd carried with him a vision of mountains soaring up to the sky, which consoled him in moments of crisis. He believed he'd invented it, or seen it in a dream. It was only when he read Beatrix Potter to his grandchildren that he realized it was a picture from The Tale of Mrs Tiggywinkle."  
Kate DiCamillo, a Newbery Medal winner and the author of Because of Winn-Dixie wrote, "The first book I read by myself was Else Holmelund Minarik's Little Bear. The illustrations were by Maurice Sendak. Those first words that I read by myself are intimately and forever bound to the art that appeared above them. It was as if the art were the doorway and it ushered me toward the words waiting on the other side. I entered the text through the art. It was one of the most powerful moments of my life."  

Maurice Sendak, author of over a dozen books and illustrator of more than 100 books has sold millions of books and won every top honor in his profession, including the Caldecott Medal and the Hans Christian Andersen Award. When I heard the news of his passing I went to my bookshelf and pulled down my copy of Where the Wild Things Are, his most notable work. The book had been given to me when I first became a children's librarian. In the front my friend wrote, "For all the new little wild things. Congratulations!" A wonderful beginning. 

Mauice Sendak will be missed. "And now,"cried Max, "let the wild rumpus start!"

Friday, May 4, 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

See visions and dream dreams!

This week's quote is one of our favorites. We think that it describes exactly what we are trying to achieve here at the Literacy Alliance. Let us know what this quote means to you!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Do you have a balanced literacy diet?

Check out this new online resource for literacy. It is called The Balanced Literacy Diet and can be found here - It has real examples for parents and teachers that can be used in the home or classroom. A sample lesson which promotes phonemic awareness and includes puppets (which you know we love at The Literacy Alliance) is called “Picky Puppet”. For this lesson, choose a fun puppet to play the part of Penelope the picky puppet and prepare picture cards with familiar objects that start with the letter “p”. Put the two together and have fun with sounds.

The Balanced Literacy Diet knows that students who do not learn to read on level by 3rd grade are much more likely to develop low self-esteem, drop out of school, and engage in antisocial and aggressive behavior. The Balanced Literacy Diet website supports educators in developing effective and engaging literacy programs across the elementary grades. 

The Literacy Alliance understands this connection between literacy and aggressive behavior. Our programs with youths in trouble at several Seminole County facilities strive to bring literature into their lives in a fun and rewarding way. Our newest program with the Eugene Gregory Memorial Youth Academy will engage teens, who are on conditional release from residential commitment programs or who have been suspended or expelled from school, in a movie production using puppets and children’s books. We are very excited about this program. Please look for the teens' puppet movie this summer!

Have you used a puppet to share a story? What puppet? What story?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Story Never Forgets

Today's quote comes from the English writer Rudyard Kipling. 

Do you agree with Kipling?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Book is a Weapon

Today's quote comes from the 36th President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson:

What does President Johnson mean by this? What is your interpretation?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Random Acts of Reading

Every Wednesday we will be posting our favorite quotes about literacy, education and our youth. This week our favorite quote came from Baha'i Writings:
What does this quote mean to you?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Reading is not work!

Hello Everyone!
Did you know that 1 out of every 3 boys in American schools is in remedial reading by the time he is in 3rd grade? Michael Sullivan, author and reading expert, tells us that one reason this is true is because we (parents and educators) turn reading into WORK! How do we fix that? Here's one suggestion - take a break from reading levels. Reading harder books does not guarantee improvement and it may cause frustration. There is only one factor that determines improvement as a reader: PRACTICE. Therefore let children read what they want! Let them have fun with books!
Here at the Literacy Alliance, one way we encourage reading fun is through our teen storytelling group called the Book Busters. This group began in 2003 and has included 48 local high school students. Every fall and spring semester five to six teens practice for over a month to create a new program which is performed at Seminole County daycares, elementary afterschool programs, and special events such as PTA Literacy Nights and the UCF Book Fair. Each 30 minute program includes book-based puppet shows, skits, magic, science tricks, and songs which connect books with fun.
The Spring 2012 group is just beginning their season. We applaud these energetic teens who are making a difference in our community and helping children discover that reading is not work, but rather it is FUN! For more information on this program, visit our website or email 

How do you make reading fun?