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 »


5 children’s summer reading books to build a better world

Girl (4-5) standing on seashore, looking at bird taking off, rear view

This summer, the theme for Massachusetts libraries is “Build a better world one small gesture at a time.” It opens the door for families with young readers to share stories of kind deeds that may seem simple in the grand scheme of things, but unlock passageways to a greater good.

Birds and broken wings lend themselves to messages of hope, empathy, journeys into creating friendships and to heart wrenching, but necessary farewells. Here is a list of children’s books about birds that make great summer reads. Read More »


Summer Smart Reading Challenge helps Lynn children become readers

Summer Smart Reading Challenge \

Something different is going on at The REAL Program in Lynn, Mass. The nonprofit helps improve children’s literacy skills by providing kids with books, homework assistance, healthy food and enrichment opportunities. Their director Jan Plourde is committed to using innovative practices to help kids in need – which is why they adopted the Summer Smart Reading Challenge.

The entire program of 40 children is actively reading and participating in the challenge. And implementation has been easy. To log each child’s reading, summer teaching interns just scan the barcodes of books using the free Readocity app. Read More »