Mass Literacy and Readocity launch the second Summer Smart Reading Challenge

half page ad 2018For the second year in a row, Mass Literacy and the local education technology startup Readocity have partnered to offer the free Summer Smart Reading Challenge to Massachusetts students entering grades K-12. The challenge inspires a love of books and reading in children and teens while helping them stave off summer learning loss.

Students can participate on their own or through their school. For schools that sign up, Mass Literacy will award a $1000 grant to the school library that logs the most reading minutes on average per student.

Readocity is providing their innovative literacy tool for free as part of the challenge, which allows readers to set reading goals, track their progress, discover age-appropriate book recommendations, and access weekly reading tips to engage readers in discussions about the books they have read.

Summer reading is especially important because it helps children avoid the summer slide, which can cause children to lose up to three months of the academic gains that they made during the school year. Reading over the summer also has many additional benefits.

Readocity’s Chief Literacy Adviser Dr. Andrew Johnson says that one of the best things we can do as parents and teachers is to help children fall in love with books. “The amount of reading students do has been linked to increases in word identification, vocabulary, comprehension, and conceptual knowledge” said Johnson. “The research is very clear: free voluntary reading is very effective and important.”

The challenge runs from July 1 through August 24. Sign up today at


Millis Middle/High School Librarian Invigorates Library with Mass Literacy Champions Grant

Patsy Divver receiving her Mass Literacy Champions Award

Patsy Divver receiving her Mass Literacy Champions Award

Big changes are happening at the Millis Middle/High School Library in Massachusetts. That’s because school librarian and 2018 Mass Literacy Champion Patsy Divver is engaging students in a new way thanks to her Mass Literacy Champions grant.

The grant will be used to purchase new resources, redecorate and create programs to help students feel a sense of ownership in the library. Divver has created a Teen Library Council to lead the way. “These students are enthusiastic, imaginative and willing to work” Divver said.

The Teen Library Council is tasked with researching new books, comfortable furniture and other resources, and then helping to decide what they will purchase for the library. Read More »


How video games can help kids supercharge literacy skills

Video games and literacy

A week ago I sat at a parent workshop about the importance of reading to young children. The contents focused on brain development and bonding. It echoed research that has passed the tests of time. I left inspired and validated. As a long time Reading and Literacy Specialist, I know this message to be true. As a parent of four and grandparent of six, I know that while reading a book can bond us to each other and to other worlds, there is a whole new dimension that today’s child has found in gaming; a world I knew little about, yet had a strong resistance towards. It was with that bias that I intended to find masterly ways of making video games more useful for children. Read More »


Meet our 2018 Mass Literacy Champions

2018 Mass Literacy Champs

On December 2 we announced our 2018 Mass Literacy Champions during our Celebrate Literacy event at the Barnes & Noble Prudential Center. The awards recognize and support outstanding literacy providers, their practices and their programs.

While we planned on selecting five grant recipients, the applicant pool was so talented that we choose eight Mass Literacy Champions. They will each receive a $1000 program grant and a professional video featuring the work of their organization.

For the first time, we also recognized a previous Mass Literacy Champions who has shown continued dedication to Mass Literacy with our Continued Commitment award.

Congratulations to our 2018 Mass Literacy Champions!

Jane Cohen DeHaven – Coordinator for Early Childhood Alliance of Framingham
Patsy Divver – Millis Middle/High School Librarian
Kevin Green – CEO of Seeds of a Father in Springfield
Susan Jaye-Kaplan – Founder of Link to Libraries in Hampden
Lorie Mendoza – Executive Director of Si, Se Puede in Lawrence
Diane Nostin Houle – Manager of Brightwood and Indian Orchard Branch Libraries in Springfield
Julie Roach – Manager of Youth Services at Cambridge Public Library
Dr. Kimberly Shaver-Hood – Superintendent of Wareham Public Schools

The Continued Commitment award was presented to Maureen Manning, a 2014 Mass Literacy Champion and the Director of Global Education and Family/Community Engagement for Wareham Public Schools.




Great Family Reads for Family Literacy Month

On the hunt for books to enjoy during Family Literacy Month this November? Look no further — check out these titles at your local library today.

The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine by Mark Twain and Philip Stead, illustrated by Erin Stead
Ages 8 to 12 – but genuinely a selection for all ages

A story devised by the new creative team of Mark Twain with Philip and Erin Stead. What? Twain was an illustrious storyteller and his daughters were the recipients of many of his great imaginings. Philip Stead was delegated with the task of finishing one of these stories and Erin Stead to illustrate the tale. The result is a treasure. A text with all the moral implications of the original author (who materializes as an adviser in the story) and with the reflection of an eminent and contemporary theme of kindness. Artwork in woodblock printing and pencil captures readers and draws them deeply into the story that begins with a boy called Johnny, his chicken named Pestilence and Famine and their search for Prince Oleomargarine.

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers
Ages 5 to 12 – but, again, valuable to all readers

Did you know that The Statue of Liberty continues to move forward in her quest to welcome immigrants to this country? Dave Eggers noticed when he visited the iconic statue that the articulation of her right foot indicates that she is in full stride. A humorous but poignant look at Lady Liberty’s history and her role as an American symbol.

Baabwaa and Wooliam: A Tale of Literacy, Dental Hygiene and Friendship by David Elliott
Ages 5 to 9

Two sheepish friends, Baabwaa loves to knit and Wooliam to read. Enter, the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. Baabwa is suspicious of his garb and Wooliam has read enough to know that they should be cautious around him. Things are not all always what they seem and the sheep share their talents and make a new friend.

Now You See Them, Now You Don’t: Poems About Creatures That Hide by David Harrison
Ages 5 to 12

Poems about camouflage in nature. Nineteen different animals depicted in five distinct categories. A pleasurable read in rhythm and rhyme, with additional non-fiction facts for the emerging environmentalist. Extraordinary art in cut-paper relief makes this a book to savor.

Colors of Nature and Crowds of Creatures by Kate Riggs
Ages 1 to 5

Creative Editions brings the publication of board books to new heights in these two offerings for the very young. Distinctive and appealing art represents Riggs’ non-fiction offerings. Colors of Nature represents colors as reflections of the seasons. Crowds of Creatures portrays family group animal names in rhyming text.

Laurie Collins is the children’s librarian at the Ipswich Public Library, the author of The Pajamas of My Dreams and a 2014 Mass Literacy Champion.