Read it LOUD Foundation

Read it LOUD Foundation Read it LOUD! is encouraging children to be lifelong readers by fostering their innate curiosity & asking families to read at least 10 mins a day together
501 (c) 3, promoting literacy, primarily to K-12 to try and help the next generation be even more literate than any before it.

Read it LOUD! is a national awareness literacy campaign, focusing on the profound positive impact that reading out loud has on children, their ability to read, their desire to imagine and their life-long love or learning. We challenge families to read together at least 10 minutes a day to ensure their children are getting the best possible chance for a promising future. The Read it LOUD! Foundation is a non-profit 501©3 organization started by Wally Amos, who over 35 years ago began the fight against illiteracy. Our Mission: • To help close the literacy gap by motivating families to read out loud together, daily Our Purpose: • To raise awareness of the value and benefits of reading aloud • To motivate families to give their children the precious gift of a brighter future • To be the catalyst for kids to reach their maximum potential • To address head on what U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan calls the tragedy of “the achievement gap that exists in America before children ever arrive at Kindergarten” Proven Value & Benefits of Reading out loud: • Increases “language acquisition and literacy development, leading to better achievement in reading comprehension and overall success in school.” * • Stimulates the imagination, creativity and curiosity • Develops a positive attitude toward reading and learning; building blocks for academic success • Creates a special bond that can last a lifetime Why it matters: • “The single most important activity for building knowledge required for eventual success in reading IS reading out loud to children.” * • It has been proven that literacy- the ability to read, write and communicate clearly- will define a child’s future success in school and in life. In fact a study by the U.S. Department of Education states that crime and illiteracy are directly related, “over 63% of prisoners in the United States are functionally illiterate.” • Studies have shown that preschoolers who have been read out loud to frequently, have stronger language skills later in life, including higher reading, spelling and IQ scores *Department of Education’s Commission on Reading

Mission: • To help close the literacy gap by motivating families to read out loud together, daily

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The Literature of Transition: Coming-of-Age StoriesBy Karen M. SmithThe term “children’s literature” brings to mind thos...

The Literature of Transition: Coming-of-Age Stories

By Karen M. Smith

The term “children’s literature” brings to mind those sweet, charming books for the elementary school crowd. However, the gap between toddler and 10 years old is no less wide than the gap between 10 and 18 years old. The advance into adolescence comes with increased self-awareness, increased social pressure, and a whole barrage of often embarrassing hormonal influences. Children seeking a shared voice, an imaginary friend’s commiseration, or even validation of their careening emotions find solace and validation among coming-of-age stories. These books help youth navigate their journey from childhood to adulthood.

Literary critics group those books that tackle the coming-of-age theme and audience with a moral or psychological focus into a sub-genre called Bildungsroman. Coined in 1819 by Wilhelm Dilthey and popularized in 1905, scholars credit the Bildungsroman’s strong influence to Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship (1795-96), originally in five volumes, by Johann Wolfgang Goethe and to Geschichte des Agathon (1767), originally in two volumes, by Christoph Martin Wieland.

More than simply an adventure with teenage protagonists, the Bildungsroman features the adolescent protagonist at odds with society’s values. Through struggle and learning, reconciliation and personal growth happen when the character learns the moral lessons imparted by his clash with social values and accepts the prevailing wisdom of that social structure. The sub-genre encompasses categories, even further splitting the lessons, from the Entwicklungsroman which focuses on general growth to the Erziehungsroman which focuses on training and formal schooling to Künstlerroman which focuses on the development of the artist.

Classic literature often imbues a strong didactic and moral focus, which lends perfectly to coming-of-age novels, especially of the Bildungsroman variety. Consider the following stories which may appeal to your teenage readers to help them understand and navigate the treacherous waters of adolescence.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. These perennial favorites told with the characteristic warmth and wit of the author of Tom Sawyer, this book use harrowing adventure to take two friends from heedless naivety to self-aware maturity.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott takes four sister on their gentle journey from carefree childhood to the responsibilities of womanhood, with protagonist Jo being the key character determined to forge a new path against social constraints.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce pertains particularly to older teens struggling with the decision of what to do with their lives as it follows the protagonist who must decide whether to embark upon the career he wants versus the career his family wants for him.

The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings tells the tale of an indigent boy who adopts an abandoned fawn who accompanies him as he grows into adolescence. The book ends with the necessity of a desperate choice that forces maturity upon him.

The Secret Garden by FRances Hodgson Burnett. Sent to live with her uncle and cousins, an orphan joins forces with a local boy and transforms a neglected garden into paradise.

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. A plucky and precocious orphaned girl goes to live with an pair of middle-aged siblings who would prefer a boy.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (originally in three volumes). Far from the only coming-of-age novel written by this venerated author, this is considered his best. It features an orphaned boy of mean birth who dares to dream of becoming a gentleman.

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. A harrowing journey to bury a family’s mother ranges from deep pathos to dark humor.

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. Although the protagonist is fully adult at the age of 29, she emerges from a prolonged state of adolescence as her search for endless admiration and wealth lead to scandal.

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie. First introduced in The Little White Bird as the boy who never grew up, even perpetual childhood delivers lessons in maturity, especially for the Darling siblings who cannot stay in Neverland.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck follows the Dust Bowl migration of an Oklahoma farming family driven from their homestead to California.

The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Another coming-of-age novel that features an adult protagonist enjoying and extended adolescence, this book follows the heir to an enormous fortune who squanders his wealth.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. A whimsical world filled with unexpected danger teaches young Alice some important life lessons.

Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, and Emma by Jane Austen. In Regency England, a young woman lived a life of perpetual childhood unless and until she married. Enjoy Austen’s sharp wit as you follow young heroines as they navigate society and societal expectations. Note that only Mansfield Park begins with the heroine as a child.

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf focuses on philosophical introspection upon the power of childhood emotions pertinent to a family visiting the Isle of Skye.

The Rise of Silas Lapham by William Dean Howells uses humor and the rise and fall of fortune to deliver moral lessons.

A Howling Good Time: Storybook WolvesBy Karen M. SmithChildren’s literature is rife with monsters, usually evil and ofte...

A Howling Good Time: Storybook Wolves

By Karen M. Smith

Children’s literature is rife with monsters, usually evil and oftentimes taking the shape of wolves. The image of the wolf arises from ancient times when most people lived agrarian lives and feared large predators which killed their valuable livestock and, sometimes, people.

The wolf, which lives in communal groups, resembles the extended human family or small village. That similarity makes it easy to characterize them by human standards, which viewed wolves as synonymous with humanity’s less than endearing sins of gluttony, greed, malice, and lust.

The traditional mindset did not change until the 1940s and 1950s, when scientists took the time to study wolves for the precise intention of learning the best way to eradicate them. Research showed the deeply social and supportive aspect of lupine society, which sparked a rapid change in general attitudes. Over the subsequent decades, wolves went from being the evil opponent of mankind to noble savages that nurtured the young.

Although the last wolf in England is said to have been exterminated in 1680, the last one in Scotland killed in 1848, and the systematic hunting of wolves in Europe and North America has made them exceedingly rare, their memory survives in literature, especially children’s literature. The World Library contains virtual shelves full of children’s stories featuring wolves in their conflicting aspects.

The Tale of Ivan Tsarevich, the Firebird, and the Gray Wolf: This Russian fairy tale tells the story of young Ivan Tsarevich, son of a Tsar, whose father sends him out to capture the firebird eating the apples in the royal orchard. On the way to the orchard, Ivan comes to fork in the road and encounters a wolf.

Little Red Riding Hood: Renowned French storyteller Charles Perrault adapted this well-known folk tale in 1697. Like many fairy tales, this one is rife with symbolism and the wolf represents the cardinal sins of lust and gluttony.

Peter and the Wolf: In 1936, Natalya Sats and the Central Children’s Theatre in Moscow commissioned Sergei Prokofiev to write a new musical symphony that would appeal to children. Prokofiev created Peter and the Wolf in just four days. The musical score debuted as an animated production in 1946 to become an instant classic.

The Fables of Aesop and Others: From “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” to “The Wolf and the Crow,” wolves feature largely in these ancient cautionary tales, commanding 12 of these stories in the 1786 English translation by Samuel Croxall.

White Fang: by Jack London: This 1906 classic novel exploring the violence of animals and men first appeared in serialized format. It takes place in the Yukon Territory during the 1890s Gold Rush.

The Jungle Book: Repurposed several times over into movies, Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 book takes place in Colonial India and features a native hero raised by wolves that feature strongly as a force for family and social support.

The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm cannot be left out of this roster of children’s literature. Wolves feature in five of the stories featured here, including “The Wolf and the Seven Kids,” “The Wolf and the Man,” “Old Sultan, The Wren and the Bear,” and more.

Wolf Time: Lars Walker’s science fiction novella, published in 2004, of a human turning wolf, at least within his thoughts, may appeal to teenagers.

The Gold Wolf, a short story, published in 2002, by W. A. Fraser is another tale appealing to teens. It brings the flavor of the Old West in North America to a tale of a bounty hunter’s encounter with wolves and an outlaw called Jack the Wolf.

Puss in BootsBy Karen M. SmithOne of the most beloved of anthropomorphic characters in children’s literature isn’t man’s...

Puss in Boots

By Karen M. Smith

One of the most beloved of anthropomorphic characters in children’s literature isn’t man’s best friend: it’s a cat. Unlike most fairy tales, neither the Brothers Grimm nor Hans Christian Andersen popularized this one. The earliest known record of the delightfully sly and deceitful feline hero known as Puss in Boots comes from The Facetious Nights of Straparola (1550-53) by Italian author Giovanni Francesco Straparola. History credits Straparola with inventing the tale. Giambattista Basile published the story again under the title Cagliuso (1634), followed by French author Charles Perrault around 1697 in his collection of eight fairy tales, Histoires ou countes du temps passé.

In 1729, Robert Samber translated the fairy tale into English and published it with the rest of Perrault’s collection of stories. Samber’s English version of the book made it one of the earliest fictional collections directed toward children. Perrault’s gently ironic adaptation of Puss in Boots found its way into translations across Europe, which meant that the famous Brothers Grimm got their hands on it and included it in their collections of fairy tales.

Before Antonio Banderas first teamed with DreamWorks Animation to give new personality to the wily cat in the animated Shrek movies, Puss in Boots featured in popular operas, the first being Costantino Fortunato (Italian). The French co-opted Puss in Boots for opera, too, with a subtitle referring to the venerable Mother Goose. Puss in Boots makes cameo appearances in other works, such as the third act of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Sleeping Beauty.

The cat moved from the stage to the silver screen in 1922, when Walt Disney Studios produced a silent animated film. Japanese writer and director Hayao Miyazaki produced a manga version in 1969. Puss in Boots jumped to television in an episode of Faerie Tale Theatre (1982 - 1987) starring Ben Vereen and Gregory Hines. Christopher Walken played Puss in an episode of Cannon Movie Tales (1988). After the 2004 sequel to Shrek, Banderas and DreamWorks realized they had a good thing going and continued the partnership for the rest of the series, even spinning off a short film in 2011 with Puss in Boots as the title character.

Puss in Boots appears in several stories featuring his wily machinations as man’s helper. Never subservient, he plays--if you’ll forgive the pun--cat and mouse with his targets in the effort to improve his pecunious master’s fortune and thereby his own.

Not only did Puss jump from the manuscript to the stage to the movie set, but he also acquired a series of stories and multiple versions of his story:

Puss in Boots by Josiah Wood Whymper (1900)
Puss in Boots and the Marquis of Carabas by Puss in Boots (1844)
The musical Puss in New Boots: A Fairy Tale by George R Sims
The Cruikshank Fairy-Book: Four Famous Stories (1911) by George Cruikshank
The Surprising Adventures of Puss in Boots; The History of a Little Dog; And the History of a Little Boy Found Under a Haycock (1854) by Richard Johnson
Handbook of German Literature (1854) by George J. Adler
Chronicles of the Grim Peddler 7: Puss in Boots: Die Legenden Vom Traumhandler (2005) by Lee Jeong-A Maru
Cinderella Picture Book; Containing Cinderella, Puss in Boots, Valentine and Orson (1911) by Walter Crane.

Beyond Speech: Talking Animals in Children’s LiteratureAnthropomorphism, a fancy term concerning the personification of ...

Beyond Speech: Talking Animals in Children’s Literature

Anthropomorphism, a fancy term concerning the personification of animals by attributing human characteristics to them, occupies a treasured spot in children’s fiction. The addition of speech to creatures that do not normally engage in conversation such as we humans think of it serves as a mode through which authors teach moral lessons, if only because the animals can talk back.

Catherine L. Flick states in her book Talking Animals in Children’s Fiction: A Critical Study (2015), that Russian theorist and literary critic Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin’s contention that talking animals “embody ideas that are particularly well suited to illuminating ways in which literary characters gain authority through language and participate in reversals of power in social hierarchies” (p. 3).

The use of anthropomorphism evolved over the centuries from wisely cryptic owls and other beasts of myth and legend to nineteenth century animal “autobiographies” such as Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty (1877) to the fully fledged characters of Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902) and Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows (1908) in which Toad and Frog are all but human in dress, speech, and manner. The latest development of fully fledged, humanistic animals continues today in such titles as E. B. White’s Stuart Little (1945) and Charlotte’s Web (1952), George Seldon’s The Cricket in Times Square (1960), Robert C. O’Brien’s Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (1971), Brian Jacques’ Redwall series (1986 - 2011), and Kate DiCamillo’s Tale of Despereaux (2003).

Animals that remain animals and not representations of human personalities occur less frequently, perhaps because that distance makes the connection for empathy all the more difficult. Hugh Lofting used this device in his book The Story of Doctor Dolittle (1920), an English veterinarian who makes a study of animal communication which leads him on grand adventures.

The fact is animals cannot write their autobiographies, nor has science yet verified claims of some animal psychics that animals speak directly to them. That is not to say animals do not or cannot communicate: they most certainly can. They do not, however, engage in the common human understanding of language. Controversial ideas related to evolution, the treatment of animals, religion, racism, empire, and other concepts that disturbed the certainty of any particular national or racial superiority found a home in those talking animals populating the pages of literature. “For instance, Rudyard’s Kipling’s The Jungle Book (1894) and Just So Stories (1907) are collections of morality stories featuring talking animals, which was set in the Indian jungle,” writes Margo DeMello in her book Speaking for Animals: Animal Autobiographical Writing (2012, p. 4). She notes that the writer serves as the animal’s ethnobiographer who “has final authority in determining the meaning of the behavior being studied. Cultural translation, thus, is inevitably enmeshed in conditions of power, with the anthropologist inevitably holding the power in the relationship” (p. 5).

Regardless of the power differential, children learn from these talking animals in myths, fables, fairy tales, and other stories long before they understand that animals don’t really talk. These characters impart timeless wisdom, spark the imagination, and can imbue our children with a love of literature for decades to come.

Heroic HeroinesHeroes fill literature, especially children’s literature. Traditional, swashbuckling tales of derring-do ...

Heroic Heroines

Heroes fill literature, especially children’s literature. Traditional, swashbuckling tales of derring-do feature knights in shining armor and damsels in distress. But what about our daughters who’d like to see heroic models of the female variety? And what about the heroines who show our sons that women can rescue as well as be rescued? Where are they?

First, let’s consider the heroic tradition which arises from, well, tradition. Let’s be honest, tradition values strength and valor as masculine traits. Look at practically any fairy tale: Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty. They each display traits of traditional feminine ideals: diligence, kindness, generosity, physical beauty, fidelity, and not a courageous or aggressive bone among them.

Female protagonists have waited a long time to break out from those socially imposed confines, but some authors realized the amazing potential of females in the heroic tradition and to pave the way for many of today’s kickass, weapons-toting heroines.

In 1949, Swedish author Astrid Lindgren’s groundbreaking children’s novel Pippi Longstocking delighted readers and broke the traditional mold of the meek, mild, and obedient heroine with the title character of her book. Made into movies and published in over 50 languages, the series featuring a wildly unconventional and super-strong girl with a big heart and a penchant for getting into lots of trouble.

Published in 1908, Lucy Maud Montgomery delighted readers with the growing pains of a curious, 11-year-old orphan named Anne Shirley. Anne of Green Gables was followed by several more novels featuring the curious and irrepressible Anne from adolescence through early adulthood in turn-of-the-century Prince Edward Island in Canada.

Preferring to write blood-and-lust thrillers, Louisa May Alcott thought her classic story of four sisters, Little Women, boring. However, the author puts much of herself into the main heroine, Jo March, who exemplifies intelligence and depth and demands to be considered and treated as the equal of any man.

With a sense of the absurd and understanding the resilience of children, British author Roald Dahl created Matilda, which was not published until 1988, just two years before his death. This spunky heroine, ill-treated by her father and neglected by her mother, uses her precocious intelligence to play pranks in retaliation.

Just as the Women’s Liberation Movement gathered steam, Beverly Cleary published Ramona the Pest in 1968. The title character, Ramona Quimby, appeared first in Henry Huggins as the troublesome little sister of Henry’s friend Beatrice. The Ramona series follows our mischievous heroine from nursery school through the fourth grade.

Redolent of fantasy, The Secret Garden (1911) by Frances Hodgson Burnett features a coming-of-age story of a sickly, 10-year-old orphan who was born in India and sent to live with an irascible uncle in the moors of Yorkshire. The garden takes a prominent place as a symbol for rejuvenation and healing.

Predating the societal upheaval of the Women’s Liberation Movement by a few years, Madeleine L’Engle’s breakthrough fantasy A Wrinkle in Time (1963) centers mainly upon the adventures of a misfit girl whose father, a government scientist, goes missing. Accompanied by her brother, her friend, and three mysterious ladies—Mrs. Watsis, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which—they travel through dimensions and time.

C. S. Lewis used classical tropes of sacrifice and courage in his iconic Chronicles of Narnia, the second and most famous of which is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950). Although the story features the adventures of all four children, the youngest, Lucy Pevensie, becomes the central character who demonstrates loyalty, truthfulness, and valor.

Swiss author Johanna Louise Spyri published Heidi in 1881, about a 5-year-old orphaned girl compelled to live with her grandfather and then, three years later, sent to live as a companion to a wealthy invalid. While the story does not deviate much from the traditional traits and role of the female protagonist, it does offer a glimpse into the expectations placed on children of the age who were required to work for their keep.

Frances Hodgson Burnett strikes gold a second time with A Little Princess (1905), which takes place in dreary Victorian England. A wealthy widower’s daughter, young Sara Crewe falls into harsh indentured servitude when suddenly impoverished by her father’s death. Again, the typical elements come into play with the heroine being sweet, kind, and generous who eventually reaps the just reward of her good nature.

Lewis Carroll’s classic of Alice’s in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (1898) begin with a girl whom things happen to and evolves into a fierce, courageous heroine who makes things happen.

Aimed solidly at the “tweenage” audience, the Nancy Drew mysteries first appeared in 1930, published under the pseudonym of Carolyn Keene and were ghostwritten by a series of authors. Bobbie Ann Mason described the wealthy, brilliant, and pretty teen sleuth “as cool as Mata Hari and as sweet as Betty Crocker.”

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s serial autobiography features her younger self, beginning with Little House in the Big Woods (1932). The series follows the author’s life, depicting a realistic protagonist who’s not the prettiest girl, not the most obedient, and filled with curiosity and independence.


Honolulu, HI

General information

Read it LOUD! is a national awareness literacy campaign, focusing on the profound positive impact that reading out loud has on children, their ability to read, their desire to imagine and their life-long love or learning. We challenge families to read together at least 10 minutes a day to ensure their children are getting the best possible chance for a promising future. The Read it LOUD! Foundation is a non-profit 501©3 organization started by Wally Amos, who over 35 years ago began the fight against illiteracy.


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