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Jul 03, 2017

A STEAM-Y Day at the Museum

On May 20, Reading Is Fundamental and Pitney Bowes hosted an afternoon of fun for families in Bridgeport, CT at the Discovery Museum and Planetarium. Children from pre-k to the 6th grade were invited to this admission-free event focused on promoting reading and science in our daily lives. Families had free rein of the museum and participated in scientific demonstrations, planetarium shows and a rocket launch! Kids tested their own building skills by creating cool lava lamps, floam and kites to take home. Along with the neat crafts, each child was able to choose a free, new book to take home and keep along with summer and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math) themed literacy activities. 

RIF was excited to partner with long-time partner Pitney Bowes and the Discovery Museum to give families an afternoon of fun – and learning!

Keep your kids busy and engaged this summer with RIF’s activity calendars and STEAM-themed activities you can do at home.

Jun 16, 2017

Advice from a RIF Dad

“We need more books,” they would say.

“But of course!” I agreed beaming with a feeling of satisfaction and parental pride. “We’ll go to the library tonight and you guys can get as many books as you want.”

As the weeks went on and the piles of books would grow all over the house, I couldn’t be happier. My little boys had an insatiable hunger for knowledge … and that Personal Pan Cheese Pizza!

Let’s be honest, I can’t take all the credit for getting my kids to love reading. A clever marketer out there may have helped me a bit. The goal was simple and the reward was desirable: read a certain number of books per month and get a coupon for a free one-topping Personal Pan Pizza.

Pizza night was a special night in my house for many years, as were the days leading up to our dinner out. As my two young sons worked to reach their reading goals, we all learned and shared special moments – sounding out letters, taking turns making animal sounds, looking up new words in the dictionary, laughing about characters in a graphic novel series or enjoying an extra-long bedtime story.

Looking back on these days, I couldn’t agree more with Maya Angelou: "Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him."

My advice? Never miss an opportunity to share the love of reading with a child. Make it fun. Make it memorable. And if you must – throw in a cheese pizza!

Wendell Basset
Dad… and RIF Program Operations Manager

Jun 14, 2017

RIF’s Father’s Day Booklist

Kids love hearing stories, especially when their hero is at the forefront. Make new memories this Father’s Day by having books at the ready that celebrate the dad in your life. Check out our booklist below and our READ PSA for a bit of read-aloud inspiration as you prep for a dad-themed celebration! 

A Perfect Father’s Day

A Perfect Father’s Day

by Even Bunting, illustrated by Susan Meddaugh
It’s Father’s Day and four-year-old Susie wants to give her father the perfect day. However, what is supposed to be his perfect day turns into Susie’s perfect day.

I Love My Daddy

I Love My Daddy

by Sebastian Braun
Braun’s playful pictures and fun text illustrate the loud and enthusiastic, as well as the calm and compassionate love of a bear and his cub.

Just Me and My Dad

Just Me and My Dad

by Mercer Mayer 
This classic, heart-warming book shows Little Critter and his father camping and enjoying their time together. Whether it is canoeing, fishing, or building a fire, the two find themselves with more common interests than they ever thought. 

The Berenstain Bears: We Love Our Dad!

The Berenstain Bears: We Love Our Dad!

by Jan Berenstain and Mike Berenstain
The children want to spoil their father today. The bears do all of Papa’s work for him - what a special treat

Football with Dad

Football with Dad

by Frank Berrios, illustrated by Brian Biggs
Every Sunday a boy and his dad watch football and play outside. Today, his dad is teaching him how to play football safely and in a fun way. 

The Night Before Father’s Day

The Night Before Father’s Day

by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Amy Wummer
Tomorrow is Father’s Day and Mom and the kids want to make dad’s day extra special! He wakes up to a spotless garage and car. What better way to celebrate than a spin in the squeaky clean car! 

When Dads Don’t Grow Up

When Dads Don’t Grow Up

by Marjorie Blain Parker, illustrated by R. W. Alley
This playful book follows four father-child stories as they spend fun times together. These parents are not the least bit worried to look silly in front of anyone. Sometimes being goofy is the best way to be! 

May 11, 2017

Outstanding Teen Is Your New Book Matchmaker

Julieanna Jackson may be Mississippi’s Miss Pride of the South's Outstanding Teen but it is her role as Book Matchmaker that really makes her shine! Growing up, Julieanna, like many other students, was a reluctant reader but after discovering a series that motivated her she not only became an avid reader but also wanted to help spark other kids’ reading habits by pairing them with books they would love to read based on their personal interests. We recently talked with her about her own story and how it has inspired her to give back to her local community.

RIF: You started out disliking books until your mother insisted you read the Percy Jackson books before seeing the movies. What was it about those books in particular that helped you develop a love of reading? 

J: I think why I wanted to read the Percy Jackson series was not only because it was becoming a movie but because it was mythological and I was learning about that in history class. It was a fantasy world filled with kids that had super powers but learned how to help each other towards a common goal and that really resonated with me.  

RIF: Have you stayed mostly in the sci-fi and fantasy genres or are there other topics you now enjoy that you didn’t expect to?  

J: I've mostly stayed with Sci-Fi dystopian books. But now that I'm older I also love young adult books! Some of my favorites series are The Selection [by Kiera Cass], Ruby Red [by Kerstin Gier], and Gone [by Michael Grant]. 

RIF: When you aren't reading, what else do you love to do? 

J: When I'm not curled up reading a book, I love to travel. It's fun seeing the places that I've read about come to life. One of my favorite places to go is New York City. I'm from Mississippi, so I love riding my four-wheelers and playing with my dogs.

RIF: We know that you volunteer at elementary schools in your area. What do you love most about your visits to these schools? Do you have any advice for other teens who are interested in volunteering to help kids learn to love reading?

J: One of my favorite things about volunteering is being able to have, even if it's a small one, an impact in the children's lives. I would encourage all of my peers to go out and give back to their community! You can start off small and volunteer at your local library or even a classroom at your local elementary school. 

RIF:  Your mission is to help kids find their perfect book match. How are you doing this? What advice do you have for young reluctant readers? 

J: I'm able to help kids love reading just like I do by going and reading to classrooms. I think once children learn that you can have fun while reading, whether it's dressing up as a character or play-acting scenes with different voices, then an entire world opens up to them. Once children learn a specific type of book that they love, they will be hooked (and most importantly knowing that it's okay not to love a certain book). I also developed an easy survey on my website that kids can take and can guide them to a possible match for their perfect book. My advice for reluctant readers is not to give up. I promise their perfect book is out there waiting for them to love and cherish! 

RIF: How has your life changed since you started reading for fun? 

J: My life has changed immensely since I discovered a love of reading. It has benefited me with my schoolwork. There have been so many things that I have learned through reading like how a lawyer prepares for their cases or how a chef chooses their menu. Reading has also reinforced the knowledge that I can be whoever I want to be and that it's never too late to discover new things.

We loved chatting with Julieanna about the impact literacy has made in her life and how she is using her own story to help empower even more children to discover the power of reading! If your child is looking for a new book to love, head over to RIF’s Booklists and find the perfect story to inspire the switch from reluctant reader to budding bookworm!

May 08, 2017

What does Mother’s Day mean to you?

For me, it is all about celebrating the gift of my mother and children. It is about modeling an environment for my children that my mom created for my sister, brothers and I – an environment of love and acceptance. As my siblings and I grew up, ventured out and began families of our own, my mom gave us each a copy of her favorite book, “Love You Forever” written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Sheila McGraw. My copy holds a place of honor in my office here at Reading Is Fundamental next to a photo of my mom with my three kids that I am excited to share with all of you! The story speaks to the beautiful cycle of eternal love that a mother has for her child and how that cycle of love, once demonstrated, is continued through the next generation. 

This theory of modeled behavior holds true for children’s literacy. Reading aloud to young children stimulates language and cognitive skills, builds motivation, curiosity and memory¹. Literacy begins with parents and caregivers reading aloud. I was privileged to join my daughter’s 2nd-grade class recently and read her nighttime favorite to the class, “When Mama Comes Home Tonight” written by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Jane Dyer. The students were so excited to guess what may come next and help me tell the story.  Both of my older children have visited to read aloud to the class, as has my husband. Having an adult model this behavior is critical and is the first step to combating the literacy crisis in America today.

As we honor our mothers and the traditions they instill in us from a young age on Mother’s Day, I encourage everyone, all year round, to read to a child.  That is a tradition that will last a lifetime!

Happy Mother’s Day from Reading Is Fundamental

-Alicia Levi


¹Bardige, B. Talk to Me, Baby! (2009), Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.