An Interview with Author & Educator Kate Messner

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Our Storytelling & Advocacy Coordinator spoke with Kate Messner, an award-winning author of children's books and middle-grade novels and a long-time World Read Aloud Day advocate (or WRADvocate) about her writing process, the power of reading aloud, and her latest novel, Breakout, which hits the shelves on June 5th this year.

Tell us a bit about Breakout. What inspired you to come up with the plot and characters for this novel?

The spark for this novel was a real-life prison break, when the escape of two inmates from Clinton Correctional Facility in Northern New York in June of 2015 launched a 23-day manhunt, all through the Adirondack Mountains and beyond. As a person who lives just fourteen miles from the prison, I was completely unnerved by the idea of two murderers lurking in the woods. But as a former journalist—I was a TV news reporter and producer for seven years—I was absolutely fascinated. So after the escape, I spent several days hanging around the prison in Dannemora. I sat at the coffee shop across the street from the prison and talked with people—police officers who had just come in from searching the woods, neighbors of the prison whose kids weren’t sleeping at night, relatives of inmates who couldn’t visit their loved ones while the prison was on lockdown. Everyone had a story, and that was the spark for the novel that would become Breakout.

Why did you choose to tell the story in letters, poems, text messages, news stories, and comics?

My first draft of Breakout had a more traditional structure. It was written in first person, narrated by Nora Tucker, the prison superintendent’s daughter. But when I shared this draft with writer friends, they were intrigued by the other characters, so I started thinking this story might be better served by an unconventional structure. I came up with the idea of a novel-in-documents…a series of letters, text messages, photographs, comics, petitions, recorded conversations, and even recipes that Nora collects for her community time capsule project. It allowed me to explore issues of privilege and perspective so much more than I’d have been able to with a single point of view.

How does Breakout relate to your larger body of work? What drew you to these themes of mystery, heist, and even suspense in your latest novels (Hide and Seek, Manhunt)?

As a reader, I’ve always loved exciting stories that keep me up late at night while I’m reading, but also leave me thinking about big ideas after the last page is turned. That’s what I hope readers take away from my Silver Jaguar Society mysteries as well as Breakout.

As a writer, how do you change your approach from writing middle-grade and young adult novels to picture books? When you get an idea for a story in your head, how do you know whether to pursue it as a novel or a picture book?

Usually, when I have an idea for a book, I can “see” right away whether it’s a picture book or a longer form of storytelling. For me, the genesis of a picture book is about words and images—I can hear the poetry of the story and see the illustrations, page turns and all. By contrast, my novels most often catch fire with a character’s voice and an idea I’d like to explore.

For many, picture books are an obvious choice for read alouds. But do you feel middle-grade novels can and should be read aloud too? If so, how does the read aloud experience change between mediums, and why are middle-grade novels often overlooked as a read aloud choice?

I think smart teachers, librarians, and families have always understood that read alouds aren’t just for little kids—that picture books are for everyone and that novels make for amazing shared reading experiences, too. Personally, I’d love to see a world where we share both picture books and chapter books/novels as read alouds throughout our kids’ reading lives. A picture book read aloud is such a lovely moment that can be revisited over and over, while a shared novel is special because it’s an experience that builds on itself with every chapter. That can spark so many great conversations, and the next chapter is something to look forward to every day.

How does your experience as an educator factor into the way you approach writing for kids, teens and young adults?

I taught middle school English for fifteen years, so I still have the voices of more than a thousand seventh graders in my head. (That might sound scary, but really, it’s wonderful!) Having spent so much time with middle grade readers really helps me when it comes to understanding their concerns, their sense of curiosity, and their voices. My years in the classroom also left me with an even greater respect for kids as readers, thinkers, and citizens, and I think that’s essential to writing for this age group. You can’t connect with readers unless you write in a way that respects kids.

Which books, writers and illustrators have had the greatest influence on you as an author throughout your career?

When I was a young reader, my two favorite authors were Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume. I loved Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books, especially, because I saw so much of myself in excited, curious, imperfect Ramona. That’s one of the reasons I’m such a big advocate for books that reflect all kinds of kids’ lives, and that show all kinds of faces on their covers. Every child deserves their own version of my Ramona. I loved Judy Blume’s books, too, because they were great stories that pushed me to think about things that were outside my comfort zone. I could sense that she understood and respected kids, and I trusted her to tell the truth. That’s something I think about a lot in my own writing life as a result. (Thank you, Judy and Beverly!)

Thank you, Kate!

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Kate Messner

is passionately curious and writes books that encourage kids to wonder, too. Her titles include award-winning picture books with Chronicle Books, like Over and Under the Pond, Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, Tree of Wonder, and How to Read a Story; novels like Breakout, All the Answers, and The Seventh Wish; and the popular Ranger in Time chapter book series about a time-traveling search and rescue dog. Kate lives on Lake Champlain with her family and is trying to summit all 46 Adirondack High Peaks in between book deadlines.

 

 

Stories from Rwinkwavu

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LitWorld’s Storytellers hail from all corners of the world. They are people of all ages and genders and they communicate in many languages. Our Storytellers (whether they are LitKids, mentors, parents, or local program coordinators) amplify the intimate stories, perspectives, ideas, thoughts, words, voices, and works of individuals involved in LitWorld programs, as well as their families and community members.

With the help of our Storytellers, we are able to share the stories, sounds, colors, feelings, and art found in our partner sites in 27 countries.

We are excited to share a few stories from Rwinkwavu, Rwanda, collected by our Partnership Coordinator Jean Marie Habimana of Ready for Reading.

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Our partnership with Ready for Reading began in 2014 with the introduction of a Moms LitClub in Rwinkwavu. Since then, LitClubs and LitCamps have been established for more than 120 local girls and boys, and World Read Aloud Day and International Day of the Girl celebrations take place in the community every year. 

Jean Marie recently asked his community members one of two questions:

1) What is one thing that holds special meaning to you? Why?

2) What is something you hear adults in your life saying a lot? Why do you think they say it?

Hear their responses below.

 

What is something you hear adults in your life saying a lot? Why do you think they say it?

Sylivine

Ngoyi

 

What is one thing that holds special meaning to you? Why?

Emelitha

Mujawimana

Thank you Jean Marie, Ready for Reading, and the community of Rwinkwavu for sharing with us!

LitWorld's Young Professionals Network: Now Accepting New Recruits

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LitWorld's Young Professionals Network is a community of young leaders that aims to expand and amplify LitWorld’s impact through fundraising, advocacy, and community-building initiatives. The group represents a broad array of professional expertise and personal passions, but is unified by a commitment to LitWorld's mission. The Young Professionals Network is led by the YPN Board, a governing body of committed leaders responsible for setting and actualizing the network’s goals season-over-season.

And now, it's recruitment time for the YPN! That means for the next few weeks, we'll be highlighting current members and alumni of the YPN on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

If you or someone you know may be interested in joining the YPN as a leadership member—or offering time and energy in some other way to support global literacy—we hope you reach out for more information here!

Applications are currently being accepted here. Meet the network below!

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Maya Battle

Hi there! I’m Maya Battle, a longtime member and former co-chair of LitWorld’s YPN. I’ve always been a passionate reader, but I’ve also been fortunate enough to work at Penguin Random House for nearly ten years now, marketing, discussing, and dreaming up big things for a lot of books I truly love. Reading made a huge difference in my life, providing me an escape when I needed one, inspiration when the world seemed grey, and voices that articulated all of the things I wanted to say but couldn’t find the right words for. It means a lot to me that LitWorld’s advocacy is out there making new connections with children around the globe. Such an organization would have made a world of difference to me, so I hope that, especially if you’re like me and you can see yourself in the bright eyes of a child discovering something for the first time, you’ll also fall in love with LitWorld.

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Courtney Code

I’m Courtney Code, a proud member of LitWorld’s YPN board, serving this year as co-chair. My childhood was blissfully full of formative stories. A beloved friend gave me Eloise for my sixth birthday, and I swore I’d live in New York City someday (in the Plaza hotel, of course). My mom read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to me and my brother, chapter-by-chapter on the living room floor. I waited every day that year for my Hogwarts letter. One Christmas, my aunt and uncle wrapped Harold and the Purple Crayon up for me, and I dreamt of creating a world of my own, from nothing but a blank page.

All of these imaginings came true for me in their own ways, thanks to the power of story. I am grateful for the abundant access to literacy and education I’ve been granted, and I am committed to opening that door for all children, for all communities across the globe.

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Rosemary Derocher

Hello! I’m Rosemary Derocher, and this was my first year with LitWorld and my 24th year with books. On LitWorld’s YPN board, I support finance and fundraising, and I work in nonprofit fundraising professionally. As a kid, I did a lot of reading past my bedtime - and a lot of hiding thick books under my stomach to totally, successfully, 100% convince my parents that I was very asleep. This did not work with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire or Eragon, but I’m pretty sure it was successful with a nice paperback copy of E.L. Konigsburg’s The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place.

Supporting LitWorld is important to me because it gives me a chance to use my skills and talents to support something I really care about - the power of stories. Growing up with stories gives you a better way to look at the world with greater empathy and kindness. Also, getting lost in a story is a great way to give your brain a rest and recharge, and that's something everyone needs. (That and Thneeds!)

I think right now my favorite of LitWorld’s Seven Strengths of Super Readers is “curiosity” - the desire and instinct to probe into things, ask questions, and learn more. This is something I've been trying to grow in my own life lately as well. Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes (another of my favorite, well-worn books on my shelf) provides a lot of life lessons through “do’s” and maybe a few more through his “don’ts” - but curiosity is definitely something he’s been teaching me for many years.

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Jessie Paddock

Hi! I’m Jessie Paddock and this is my second year with LitWorld. I’m proud to be part of YPN as the art of storytelling has been part of my life since I was a child, taking on many different shapes and sizes over the years. Now a writer of middle-grade and young adult fiction and a teaching artist, I’ve also worked with visual artists and as a performer in theatre and film for years. My enduring interest in narrative all began with books, though.

When I was six I wanted to be Eloise when I grew up. The next year, I had my sights set on Calvin or Hobbes (slight bias towards Calvin, but I wasn’t going to be picky), an aspiration that seemed absolutely attainable, somehow. Though I eventually realized that I’d never actually be a precocious six year old with a pet turtle living in a grand hotel (by that point I was about eight), or a rambunctious kid with a stuffed tiger as my BFF, the spirit of these characters and their stories stayed with me. My first favorite books – Eloise and Calvin & Hobbes: It’s a Magical World -- encouraged me to dream, laugh, and imagine. Simply put, literature inspired me to create.

Books, and the privilege of literacy, jump-started my imagination and eventually empowered me to generate characters and stories of my own. I’m proud to be part of LitWorld because I believe literacy has the power to encourage self-expression, communication, and play. I like to think Calvin, Hobbes and Eloise would agree.

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Ilana Solomon

I’m Ilana Solomon, the YPN’s Fundraising Chair this year, and I also work as Development Associate for LitWorld!  When I was younger, nothing made me happier than reading. Before I could read on my own, my parents would read aloud to me every night before I went to sleep (my Dad does a great dramatic reading of Shel Silverstein poetry), and when I was old enough to read on my own, I would stay up way past my bedtime reading until I fell asleep.  I even went as the purple crayon from Harold and the Purple Crayon for Halloween one year!  Reading and the power of literacy has shaped my life in so many crucial ways — I would not be the person (or bookworm) that I am today without it. LitWorld is making sure that kids across the globe can experience the joy and power that literacy brings.

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Olivia Chase

I'm Olivia Chase, the YPN's Culture point-woman this year, and I have been working with LitWorld in various volunteer capacities since 2010. I'm an English teacher, so I get asked the favorite-book question a lot, but for me books are a kind of religion and favorites are always in flux -- there should be a word for book-kismet, when books find you at the right time. Right now, I'm reading Krik Krak by Edwidge Danticat, and I'm teaching The Giver and American Born Chinese to sixth and eighth graders. When I think about what literacy means to me more broadly, I think LitWorld's founder, Pam Allyn, put it best:

"Literacy has inevitably changed your life for the better. Literacy wakes us to awareness of the world, of the beauty in it, and the sorrows of it too. Literacy is something we want others to fall in love with, the way we've gotten to. From the oral tradition to the written forms, literacy connects us to others, makes us stronger, braver, better, more knowing, more questioning.

It is never something that if you have it, someone else will have less of it. It's something every single person on earth can have while not depleting something else. If more people have it, more people will be better off for it.

It is the essence of how democracy is built and how we converse and relate, connect and fulfill dreams. It is the essence of peace."

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Eric de Lemos

Hi there, fellow human. I’m Eric, the LitWorld Young Professional Secretary for this year. From when I was very young, my mom impressed the importance of reading on me and I still think of how it’s shaped me into who I am today. In the beginning she would read to me, but as I got older I found it was I who really enjoyed reading back to her - it left me with a deep sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Now that I’m older, I understand that there is one thing that unlocks all opportunity in the world: literacy. It’s important to me that everyone has the same opportunity for success that I had. LitWorld’s global programs encourage self-expression, build understanding, and cultivate confidence in the leaders of tomorrow.

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Angela Januzzi

Hey there, people who care about the world. I’m Angela Januzzi, the new Outreach & Community Coordinator for LitWorld’s Young Professionals Network. I’ve been lucky to work for both book publishing and non-profits, but before that there wasn’t much in life that could both calm me down and wake me, up all at once, like the acts reading and writing.

While many people’s lives are enriched through the escapism reading offers, for me reading and writing were how I first processed my own immense desire to simply know more about the world, when I felt I couldn’t find those answers from my immediate surroundings. And then the more I read, the more I wrote. And the less afraid I was to then transfer those observations from sheer words into acts of real, true experience.

LitWorld directly supports programming and communities for kids who, otherwise, might not have had such life-changing interactions through reading and writing. Yes. But what makes LitWorld *especially* vital is just how grassroots its work is. Its entire model is built upon partnerships with local literacy organizations around the planet, and with very little bureaucracy. I personally believe LitWorld’s work with literacy groups, throughout the U.S. and the globe, isn’t just essential to greater equality for all of us — it’s also maybe one of the best models for worldwide literacy that you could ever want to support. Hope you join us soon. <3

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Remy Olsen

Hi! My name is Remy Olsen and this is my second year being a part of the amazing LitWorld’s YPG. Having a mother in publishing, books were a large part of my childhood. One book took the cake though, as I probably read Corduroy a million times. His adventures and undeniable cutest made me his #1 fan. His likability has survived the battle against time as Corduroy is my niece’s favorite stuffed animal.

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Samantha Siegal

Hi! I’m Sam Siegal, a proud co-chair of the LitWorld YPN board. Some of my favorite books to read when I was little were from the Nancy Drew series…what could be better than a butt-kicking girl detective?? I’m honored to be part of the LitWorld family because reading and writing gave me a voice as a strange, mystery-loving little girl and every child must have the right to express their own strange in their own way. LitWorld is changing the world through super smart programming that does just this – please help us spread the lit love!

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Caelyn Cobb

I’m Caelyn Cobb, the incoming YPN leadership team co-chair for the 2018-2019 year. By day, I’m an editor for nonfiction books on global history and international politics at Columbia University Press. I started working with LitWorld in 2016 during my capstone project for grad school at NYU, traveling to Haiti to help train LitClub mentors. Seeing the important work LitWorld does to help create a love of learning in kids of all ages firsthand was inspiring. I joined the YPN after finishing the project and I’ve been proud to support LitWorld ever since.


I’ve come a long way since Mickey Mouse’s Books of Opposites, but I still get excited about getting  my hands on a new book. As a kid I loved Ella Enchanted, Nancy Drew, and my illustrated encyclopedia; today I love Gillian Flynn’s mysteries and any new books about politics. Your tastes (and reading level) may grow up, but LitWorld has shown me that the joyful reader inside never truly does.

My View, My Voice: An Interview with Carolyn Greenberg and Rebekah Coleman

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Our Storytelling & Advocacy Coordinator, Jake Adler, had an opportunity to speak with Carolyn Greenberg and Rebekah Coleman—a pair of expert educators, curriculum writers, and literacy coaches at LitLife—about their latest book release and the importance of bringing persuasive writing into classrooms.

How did you two team up?

We’ve been working with LitLife for around 10 years, and teamed up with LitWorld’s founder, Pam Allyn, on the Core Ready textbook series. We both work in content development at LitLife, and decided to join forces on My View, My Voice: 21 Strategies for Powerful Persuasive Writing.

Tell us a bit about your new book series. What made you want to create these texts?

We feel the moment is now—children are learning the importance of speaking up and people are in need of learning how to listen to each other’s views and share their own views in intelligent, thoughtful, and respectful ways. We wanted to provide educators and students with key strategies to strengthen student’s persuasive writing. We both noticed there was a need for curriculum around persuasive writing—we wanted to provide strategies and techniques to expand and enrich the teaching of persuasive writing. We decided to get at the heart of understanding what persuasive writing is and to help educators and students shift from opinion writing into the more formal and complex genre of argument writing.

In My View My Voice we provide 21 age-appropriate strategies and 10 model lessons that lead students to research topics, form and support opinions and arguments, and present their ideas in a variety of engaging ways. These learning opportunities are provided to empower students to both become critical consumers of persuasive messages and strong crafters of persuasive writing. We hope our books help educators teach persuasive writing with expertise, confidence, and joy.

Do you feel there is a gap in many curricula that these new lessons you’ve created can address?

There wasn't a lot of existing curriculum around persuasive writing, particularly around reading persuasive texts in order to learn how to become critical consumers. Teachers were telling us that they wanted to move beyond overdone topics like, “Why Smoking is Bad for You,” and the tired format of the 5-paragraph essay. They told us they didn’t have decent, credible sources to give students on topics that were as appropriate as they were relevant to students’ lives. We understood that teachers were looking adjust their approach to rhetoric and make it more inspiring, exciting, and authentic.

In these new texts, we’ve expanded what persuasive writing can look like in different genres and forms. We have also created age- appropriate original model texts at a range of reading levels for teachers to use with their students. We believe students ought to be learning how to read persuasively, too, in order to write persuasively. When fake news and ‘alternative facts’ are in the mainstream, we feel very strongly that there is a need to educate children about credible sources in order to raise a generation of thoughtful readers.

Is persuasive writing too ambitious a topic for the K-5 age group? Why is it important to foster these skills so early?

Kids love telling us about their preferences from an early age—“My favorite color is, I don’t like that food, etc.”— so it's a perfect time to teach kids how to express themselves more articulately. We ask them to provide a reason for their statement. We teach them how to provide evidence to support their opinion, which is truly an important life skill. Kids can certainly do it, but we don't always teach it. But we believe it’s vital that we teach our kids how to be persuasive.

When we frame it around making a difference in your community—as a sort of superpower one can use for good—kids get very interested in learning about how to structure their arguments in a more powerful way.

Especially with younger students, do you find it difficult to explain the importance of using logical reasoning over experiential or emotional evidence? How can teachers make the difference clearer for their students?

When working with younger kids, teachers will definitely hear a lot more of that emotional reasoning—“Purple is the best color because my stuffed animal is purple.” In My View, My Voice, we dive into ethos, pathos, and logos argument styles, and provide concrete strategies to combine feeling with facts. It sounds challenging, but when you put it in simpler terms, kids can really follow along. They get it.

Want to write a persuasive piece about whether dogs or cats make a better pet? Take a poll of your fellow students! Kids can then use that data they collect to state credible facts and defend their opinions on age-appropriate subjects.

It’s all about learning to discern the difference between fact and opinion and to gain an understanding that when something is a fact for you, i.e. pizza is the best food, it doesn't mean it’s a fact for everyone. True facts are things that are always true for everyone.

How do these new texts and lessons engage students of various ages in the 21st century?

We encourage teachers and kids to look in their own community for issues where people have many opinions. By doing that, students become more invested. They learn that, in catering an argument to the right audience, they have a chance to make a difference in their world. We look at topics that are personal and expand to classroom-wide, school-wide, community-wide, nationwide, and worldwide issues, gradually expanding scope to recognize a wide breadth of subjects.

We provide tips on how to become critical consumers of social media, too. With our texts, students learn how to determine whether a source is credible. They learn to ask, “Who is the author? Are they affiliated with any university or publication or organization? Does this author have a career or experience that demonstrates expertise on the subject they’ve written about?”

Depending on who students are trying to reach with their argument, they learn how to determine whether social media could be a good method of getting their message out. We discuss logical fallacies and call them T.R.A.P.S., which we use to identify weaknesses in the arguments of others.

My View, My Voice is easy-to-use, easy-to-pick up, and contains ideas you can use tomorrow, by threading our strategies into existing lesson plans without changing the entire curriculum.

In some marginalized communities, kids are not encouraged to express their perspectives or opinions at all. If they counter the teacher’s point-of-view, it’s considered bad. We feel that's problematic. We want to empower students and teachers to have healthy, strong conversations that will help everyone grow as a class.

Kids need to learn how to share their views with logical reasoning and hard evidence. We hope that by using these strategies, we will empower students to both argue to learn and learn to argue. Understanding that arguments are not a shouting match, but an opportunity to share your views with others (and visa versa) and  an opportunity to learn and grow and be open to shifting your views in the face of new information. We want kids to become learners while they have conversations, and we want kids to be unafraid of those who don't agree with them.

Together, we feel that people are doing a lot of arguing but not a lot of listening these days. We have to differentiate between the concepts of learning to argue and arguing to learn.

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Rebekah Coleman, M.A. Ed.

Rebekah has been an educator for over 15 years as a public school classroom teacher and curriculum writer. She is currently the Team Leader for Curriculum Development at LitLife, an internationally recognized literacy professional development group.

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Carolyn Greenberg, M.A. Ed. Leadership, M.A. Elementary Ed.

Carolyn has been an educator for over 25 years, Carolyn has served as a public school classroom teacher, literacy coach, and curriculum director. She is currently the Executive Vice President of Literacy Content and Team Development for LitLife, an internationally recognized literacy professional development group.

From The LitWorld Gala, with Gratitude

 The LitWorld staff poses for a group photo, moments before the opening of our Spring Gala on May 9th, 2018.

The LitWorld staff poses for a group photo, moments before the opening of our Spring Gala on May 9th, 2018.

Dorothy Lee reflects on our 10th Spring Gala—her first as LitWorld's Executive Director.

This time of year is always special for the LitWorld family. All around New York City where we have our home base, the trees blossom and tell us that spring is in full swing and summer is around the corner. School is winding down and our LitClubs are planning LitFests that will celebrate the feats of the past year and look ahead to filling summers with reading and creativity, which means LitCamp for many—hip hip hooray!

It is a time for gratitude, joy, and anticipation.

 LitClub members in Rwanda participate in a community service project.

LitClub members in Rwanda participate in a community service project.

 A LitKid in Afghanistan shares her words.

A LitKid in Afghanistan shares her words.

We were so proud last week to bring together much of our LitWorld community at our Spring Gala for our own celebration. Together we shared stories of our LitKids, our partner communities and supporters, and ourselves. The theme of the evening was “Turning the Page,” which resonated in our hearts as a reflection on what stays the same, what deepens, and what changes when we begin new chapters. Where can we take control of our futures and how can we help others do the same?

I shared a story of when I was ten, helping out in my mom’s nursery school classroom during my school breaks. Reading aloud with those toddlers made me feel like a leader for the first time. I still use those read-aloud-rooted skills every day as LitWorld’s Executive Director.

 Executive Director Dorothy Lee addresses the crowd at LitWorld's 2018 Spring Gala.

Executive Director Dorothy Lee addresses the crowd at LitWorld's 2018 Spring Gala.

 LitWorld's Founder, Pam Allyn, with 2018's Be the Story Honoree, Dr. Deborah Winston.

LitWorld's Founder, Pam Allyn, with 2018's Be the Story Honoree, Dr. Deborah Winston.

 Dorothy Lee, LitKid, age 10.

Dorothy Lee, LitKid, age 10.

 Pam Allyn,&nbsp;LitCamper, with her parents. Her father Bill was a founding partner of the Jackson Lewis law firm.

Pam Allyn, LitCamper, with her parents. Her father Bill was a founding partner of the Jackson Lewis law firm.

Our Be the Story Honoree, Dr. Deborah Winston, Emeritus Deputy Executive Director of the Office of Literacy for the Detroit Public Schools Community District, shared a story of learning to lead by teaching her younger brother to read.

Our Founder, Pam Allyn, shared a story of how much her father Bill Krupman’s devotion to work, and his commitment to the power of summer camp, influenced her childhood and shaped both who she has become, and how our LitCamp Champion Honoree, the law firm Jackson Lewis, where Bill was a founding partner, has carried on his legacy in its steadfast support for LitWorld’s work.

 Famed children's author and illustrator, Peter H. Reynolds, with LitWorld staff and an original illustration which was included in the silent art auction.

Famed children's author and illustrator, Peter H. Reynolds, with LitWorld staff and an original illustration which was included in the silent art auction.

 Author and educator Torrey Maldonado shares a story with attendees.

Author and educator Torrey Maldonado shares a story with attendees.

Our Lit Opening Speaker, author and educator Torrey Maldonado, shared a story of how his mother gave him what LitWorld gives the kids in our communities, showing him all that learning can and should be. And Peter H. Reynolds's picture book The Word Collector, published by our sponsor Scholastic, echoed our theme throughout the room with its story of Jerome, a young boy learning that words give us strength as we take them in, and give us even more power when we share them.

I asked our guests to reflect in the room:

Who were you when you were a child? Take a moment to think of your LitKid-self. Who made you feel like you truly belonged? What made your confidence shine? When did you feel afraid and what gave you hope?

Too many children do not have access to the resources that will give them the power to own their dreams.

 A LitKid in Nicaragua speaks to her community.

A LitKid in Nicaragua speaks to her community.

 LitKids reading side by side in Cameroon.

LitKids reading side by side in Cameroon.

Globally, 250 million children and 774 million adults do not have access to the life-changing, life-saving power of literacy.

LitWorld defies these numbers every day.

Our LitClubs reach over 7,000 children and parents, our LitCamps reach hundreds of thousands of kids across the US, and our World Read Aloud Day campaign reaches millions.

We are so grateful to everyone who has rallied with us this spring, raising funds to keep this important work going. We need you with us to ensure that our LitKids can turn the page onto the bright futures they deserve.

Will you Be the Story with LitWorld?

Thank you,

Dorothy