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. 


Call for Nominations: Mass Literacy Champions Awards


Mass Literacy is now accepting applications for the 2018 Mass Literacy Champions Awards. The program recognizes and rewards outstanding Massachusetts literacy providers who have made significant contributions to literacy education. The deadline to apply is October 31, 2017.

Mass Literacy Champions will receive:

  • A $1000 grant for program development
  • A professionally produced video to promote their organization valued at $1000
  • Statewide recognition as a Mass Literacy Champion
  • Visibility and recognition in the media
  • Publishing opportunities
  • The opportunity to serve as an adviser to Mass Literacy

Nominate yourself or another outstanding educator today. Up to five Mass Literacy Champions will be chosen.

Learn more and apply here.



7 outdoor literacy activities for kids

Making play dough at the park.

Making play dough at the park.

This summer, Holyoke Public Schools is engaging parents and kids with a series of literacy activities at different community parks, showing that we can learn while we enjoy the nice weather. As a Family Access and Engagement Coordinator for a Holyoke elementary school, I’ve had a lot of fun leading these literacy activities outdoors. They are perfect to use as part of a summer program or at home with your own children. Read More »