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.