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Thanks for visiting, you can now find RIF’s blog on our new website at www.rif.org/blog/

This page will no longer be updated, but feel free to browse our previous blog entries!

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RIF Pumpkin


Halloween is just round the corner, and some frightfully good reads are creeping up… look behind you (for these fun book suggestions from RIF)!


The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, Linda D. Williams & Megan Lloyd
Little Old Lady

This little old lady isn’t afraid of anything… or so she thinks! One fall night, while walking in the woods, she hears… “clomp, clomp, shake, shake, clap, clap.” And the little old lady is not afraid of anything gets the scare of her life! This lively read will delight young children.




Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras, Duncan Tonatiuh

Funny BonesCalaveras are well known in Mexico as festive, funny skeletons that dance and playing instruments. But how did they come to be? They were created by José Guadalupe (Lupe) Posada, and Funny Bones tells the fascinating story of this artist and the skeletons he created, now synonymous with Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).





The Hallo-wiener, Dav Pilkey

Hallo-wienerLike all dachshunds, Oscar is short, and all the other dogs make fun of him. It gets even worse when he’s dressed up like a hot dog for Halloween. But one brave act in the face of some dastardly cats turns him from hang dog to top dog! This is one for any dog that’s ever had to suffer the indignity of a ridiculous costume!



Pumpkin Jack , Will Hubbell

Pumpkin JackTim is proud of his first carved pumpkin, and he decides to give it a name: Jack. He doesn’t want to just throw Jack out when it begins to decay, so he puts it in his back yard. It goes moldy, sinks into leaves, hides under the snow, and finally sprouts a plant that creates new pumpkins for next year! Kids everywhere know how it feels to throw out their carved pumpkins, and this turns a shared experience into a compelling story!

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One of RIF’s volunteers of the year, Ellen Halliday, was recently featured in an interview about her work inspiring children to read for American Graduate Day! We’re thrilled to show you the footage of her discussion with PBS correspondent Hari Sreenivasan and parent Yvette Sarmiento – the video is an inspiring look at RIF in action and shows how books can make a huge difference in children’s lives.



Ellen Halliday has managed RIF programs at Brooklyn Public Library for 15 years, and in that time she’s been a wonderful representative for children’s literacy and the magic of reading. We’re grateful for her dedication, and RIF also thanks the organizers of American Graduate Day and public media for putting the spotlight on literacy. To find out more about keeping kids on the path to graduating, visit www.americangraduate.org

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Literacy Tee

Ralph Lauren says that “Books open windows to the world and have the power to transform lives.” Here at RIF we couldn’t agree more, and that’s why we’re so excited that kids can now share their love of reading and support literacy with iconic Ralph Lauren Literacy tees! Available through Macy’s, 25% of the purchase benefits RIF, and you can order the Pony design shirts online here and the girls’ fashion-sketch design here!




Pan movie star Levi Miller, pictured above modeling the shirt, is also backing the campaign. He’ll be in NYC on October 11 at Macy’s Herald Square from 2.00-4.00 pm, and you could meet him there – come to the Kids Dept. on 7, and children wearing the Ralph Lauren literacy tees get VIP access!

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7 Simple Steps

American Graduate Day returns Saturday, October 3, from 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. ET (check local listings) live from Tisch WNET Studios in New York City. The live, seven-hour multiplatform broadcast celebrates those organizations and individual Champions keeping kids on the path to graduation. With Soledad O’Brien hosting, and an all-star line-up of celebs featuring, it’ll be great fun as well!

RIF Volunteer Ellen Halliday will be featuring in one of the first interviews, so tune in at 11.00 a.m. to learn more about RIF in action! Beyond the day itself, there are 7 simple steps you can take to become an American Graduate Champion:

  1. Read with a Child
  2. Mentor a Young Person
  3. Volunteer with a Youth Program
  4. Reach Out to Someone with Special Needs
  5. Take a Child to a Science Exhibit
  6. Donate School Supplies
  7. Talk to Students About Your Career

Click the links above to find out more about each step though AmericanGraduate.org, remember to watch the broadcast this Saturday, and join the conversation with #AmGrad!

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Students, we’ll keep this snappy – want to win a $500 college store gift card? Whip out your smartphone, snap a selfie of your beautiful face in your college store, and share on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using #GIVEME5NSD to enter – that’s it!

Selfie snapsAnd we haven’t even got to the best part yet… for every entry, $1 is donated to RIF, up to $5,000! So, basically you get to support children’s literacy just for doing what you’d normally get up to on social media!

The contest runs September 24 to October 22, and National Student Day is on October 8. Check out www.NationalStudentDay.com to find out more about this awesome event, with campus stores across the U.S. and Canada holding in-store celebrations thanking their students.

Now get out there, get snapping, and #GIVEME5NSD!

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David Miller

David Miller, Kuato Studios



A number of reports published recently on both sides of the Atlantic shed some interesting light on the benefits of digital books in children’s literacy. One of the key findings of the 2014 National Literacy Survey is that “children are more likely to have above average vocabulary attainment if they look at or read both printed stories and stories on a touch screen compared with those who read printed stories only.”


In the US, the excellent report from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, Family Time with Apps, suggests that any kind of reading whether digital or print has real benefits, but that “communicating with your child while reading is the key.”


The key is in the interaction – the conversation – that the child has while reading, or as a result of reading. And digital books provide a huge variety of opportunity for interaction. Animation, sound, ‘living’ text, interactive characters all provide rich conversation points for adult and child, as they discover the many learning layers that exist in the well designed digital book.


Where the digital book is itself a game, then we enter the realms of new forms of storytelling and word building. As parent and child play, no longer is this simply an experience of parent reading and child listening. The child will display many more verbal and visual cues that the parent can use to draw out further learning, and there will be many more potential re-readings of the same narrative.


The element of fun and customization is also a great motivator. Having the ability to create their own stories within the digital storybook, or choose sounds and music makes it more motivating for both child and adult to share and discuss. The point is there should be a reason for these elements – they should not be distracting – they should enrich the act of reading, and cultivate the art of reading.


Children playing Safari TalesIn this context, enter two new games from Kuato Studios, Dino Tales and Safari Tales. The uniqueness of the games’ is that they creatively bring together elements of storytelling and language skills. For example, as the child plays, their play session is captured as a colorful storybook that they can share and read with parents and loved ones. Within the storybooks, children are encouraged to choose their own adjectives, verbs and adverbs, thereby changing the tone or mood of the writing. Expressive word wheels allow children to build questions – whimsical or factual – which they can pose to a wise in-game learning buddy called Darwin, whose answers may be factual, or equally whimsical! Facts and fictions, language and imagination are all blended together one rich environment designed to foster the joy and value of reading.


The games and corresponding digital books are enhanced immeasurably by the human interaction, providing an emotional connection no tablet can replicate.


David Miller is the Director of Learning at Kuato Studios, a learning company building fun and interactive products that inspire kids to learn the new skills of the future. For more information, visit them online at www.kuatostudios.com.

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Reading Is Fundamental teamed up with State Farm on Sunday September 20 to give away thousands of children’s books, string bags and animal masks as part of the ZooFiesta celebration at the Smithsonian National Zoo!  We also handed out a bilingual animal-themed activity sheet, which is available to download here (English) and here (Spanish) for anyone wild about reading!





Joining in the fun were members of the Girl Scouts and Kappa Kappa Gamma, who came along to hand out books and spread word of the giveaway! By the end of the day, the entire zoo was a sea of yellow RIF bags and stickers, and more than a thousand children went home with books to call their own.


Girl Scouts

RIF’s participation in ZooFiesta came thanks to a Good Neighbor Citizenship Grant from State Farm.

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ZooFiesta books 1


We love to roar for reading and we’re wild about books, so it’s no surprise that RIF is coming to ZooFiesta! If you’re in the Washington DC area on Sunday September 20, head on over to the National Zoo from 10am to 2pm to receive a  free children’s book and cool RIF gear! RIF is participating thanks to a Good Neighbor Citizenship Grant from our friends at State Farm, and in the spirit of the occasion we’ve got some animal-themed book recommendations to share with you!


8: An Animal Alphabet by Elisha Cooper

8 Animal AlphabetThis is an alphabet book with a twist! Going alphabetically, every page features various different animals. But you’ll have to look carefully, because for each letter one animal gets eight separate illustrations! At the end, you’ll find fun facts about every animal. Did you know that guinea pigs hop when they get excited?




Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae & Guy Parker-Rees

Giraffes Can't DanceAll Gerald the Giraffe wants to do is dance, but with his gangly legs and crooked knees, it’s not easy! But when he gets some words of encouragement from an unlikely friend, Gerald is finally able to dance to his own tune! Packed with energetic illustrations and rollicking rhymes, this is perfect read for lively little ones!





Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla

by Katherine Applegate & G. Brian Karas

IvanCaptured as a baby, a young gorilla named Ivan was stuck in a cage in a Tacoma, Washington, mall to attract shoppers. This touching picture book adaptation of a true story shows how public pressure and protesting citizens rescued Ivan and sent him to a better environment at Atlanta Zoo. Ivan’s story made a huge impact on how people saw animals, and this is a great way to introduce children to animal welfare!

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Dot Day

September 15 is International Dot Day, a celebration of the power of the creative spirit in all of us! International Dot Day is inspired by Peter Reynolds’ classic children’s book, The Dot, which shows how making just one little mark can begin a journey of surprise and self-discovery. RIF is proud to support this initiative, and in the spirit of the occasion we’d like to share some fun ideas from the Dot Day Educator’s Handbook on how you can take part, in your classroom and beyond!

Make a Guest Dot Sign-In

Get a large sheet of paper on an easel next to a collection of markers and crayons. Make sure that everyone who comes in makes their own special dot on the paper, and encourage them to get creative!

Group Dot

Cover a round table with craft paper to make a giant “dot” and ask students to work in groups to fill-in the dot together! See what emerges as students negotiate the use of space and relationships among shapes and colors within the dot!

Make Dotty Name Tags

Have kids decorate dot-shaped name tags for their lockers by making a collage of pictures that say something about themselves.

And Finally… Don’t Forget to Read The Dot!

the dot

Peter Reynolds’ delightful book tells the story of Vashti, who is convinced that she can’t draw. To prove her point, she jabs at a piece of paper to make one simple, angry dot. But that one little dot is just the beginning, in this delicate fable about the creative spirit in all of us!

Help spread the word about International Dot Day by registering at http://www.thedotclub.org/dotday/register

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