Growing Bookworms Newsletter: June 10, 2008
Steel Trapp: Ridley Pearson

New English/Spanish Activity Book from RIF Makes Writing and Reading Fun

I received the following press release from RIF today, and thought that readers might be interested:

College Board’s National Commission on Writing Joins National Writing Project, Reading Is Fundamental to Promote Early Childhood Literacy

NEW YORK — Studies have shown that reading to young children promotes language development and, in time, academic achievement. A new book for preschoolers provides children’s first teachers—those at home—with a tool to help youngsters begin to develop literacy.

“The College Board’s National Commission on Writing believes there is a need to support early literacy development for children so they are prepared for success in school,” said Alan Heaps, vice president of Advocacy at the College Board. “To engage young children in both writing and reading, we’ve collaborated with the National Writing Project and Reading Is Fundamental to publish Our Book By Us! / Nuestro Libro ¡Hecho Por Nosotros! (this link goes to a PDF version) to help younger children on the road to literacy.”

Created with award-winning author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds (Judy Moody, The Dot, Ish, Someday), this activity book is designed to encourage caregivers to read, write, listen and talk with their preschool-age children. “Our Book By Us!/NuestroLibro ¡Hecho Por Nosotros!” has 28 colorfully illustrated pages with text in both English and Spanish. The book contains a series of six “minibooks” featuring SugarLoaf, an enthusiastic teddy-bear-like character created by Reynolds. In the stories, SugarLoaf makes her own book about her life and adventures with the help of friends and relatives. As a special feature, each bilingual SugarLoaf minibook has activity pages that invite the child and caregiver to talk, draw and write about their own lives and experiences. Ideas for enjoyable extension activities demonstrate how everyday experiences can be opportunities to teach literacy.

“National Writing Project teachers understand that early literacy skills, which link reading and writing, develop first at home through interactions with parents, grandparents and caregivers long before a child enters a classroom,” said Sharon Washington, executive director of NWP. “That is why we are thrilled to have worked on this project that provides a fun, colorful developmental tool — assuring that more children are prepared for literacy instruction when they begin school.” NWP has posted the book at

The first 50,000 copies of “Our Book By Us!” will be distributed without charge to children in Head Start and other early learning programs served by RIF and through NWP sites around the country. The books are environmentally friendly, printed with soy ink on recycled paper. An electronic version also is available online through the Web sites of all three organizations.

“Thanks to the generous support of the College Board’s National Commission on Writing and the National Writing Project, RIF can further its mission of providing books and literacy resources to the children and families that need them most,” said Carol H. Rasco, RIF president and CEO. “When children have access to books and learn to read for fun, they tend to achieve greater success in school and life.”   

I think it's neat to see this as a bilingual project, and I hope that you'll find it useful.