In honor of National Reading Month, Children’s Aid is celebrating the most critical time for children to develop strong reading and literacy skills: early childhood. Children’s vocabulary as early as age 3 can predict their third-grade reading achievement.
We have teamed up with prominent, award-winning children’s authors for our annual “Reading on the Rug” series throughout March. Eight authors will read their original works to the 3-to-5-year-olds in our early childhood classes to celebrate the importance of story time and reading to children regularly. Chosen books will also explore identity, diversity, and community – themes that will create strong foundations for our little ones’ ever-growing intellectual curiosity and help cement their love of reading early.
We’ve listed the authors and their works below, and we will be posting pictures of the readings throughout March. You can also join us at home by following our “Reading on the Rug” series on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Show us what you’re reading with your young ones: post pictures or video of story time and tag us @childrensaidnyc #ReadingOnTheRug.
We look forward to reading on the rug with you!
Lissette Norman is a poet and author of the picture books “My Feet Are Laughing” and “Plátanos Go with Everything.” She is also co-author of the picture books “Until Someone Listens” (with Estela
Juarez) and “On the Line: The First African-American Rockette” (with Jennifer Jones). Lissette received her bachelor’s in English at SUNY-Binghamton and lives in New York City.
John Parra is an award-winning artist, illustrator, author, and educator best known for his Latino-themed children’s picture books. His work on “Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos” was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year. His new book, “Growing an Artist: The Story of a Landscaper and His Son,” is his debut as both author and illustrator. John lives with his wife, Maria, in Queens.
Cynthia Weill is trained as an art historian and has worked as an educator and in humanitarian assistance. She holds a doctorate from Teachers College at Columbia University. She completed her dissertation work in Oaxaca, Mexico. Her publications include “Ten Mice for Tet” and the “First Concepts in Mexican Folk Art Series.” She is the director of the Center for Children’s Literature.
Jessica Ralli holds an master’s in early childhood special education from Teachers College and a bachelor’s in Fine Arts from New York University. She is a former preschool special education teacher who has taught in schools, museums, and libraries. Jessica is the coordinator of Early Literacy Programs at Brooklyn Public Library and plans creative, inclusive, grant-funded programming for Brooklyn’s youngest learners. Follow her on Instagram @JessicaEarlyLit.
Jyoti Gyopal is a kindergarten teacher, writer, and mom. She was born in India but grew up all over the world, from Thailand and Indonesia to Myanmar and China. Jyoti writes stories that speak to her heart, that reflect her multiple identities, that she wishes her daughters had growing up, and that she wished her students had now. Her debut picture book, “American Desi,” illustrated by Supriya Kelkar, received a starred review from School Library Journal (SLJ). Her recently published book, “My Paati’s Saris,” illustrated by art twink, received two stars from Publisher’s Weekly and SLJ and is on the New York Public Library and SLJ Best Books of 2022.
Megan Pamela Ruth Madison loves being a Black queer woman and dreams of justice. As a former preschool teacher, Megan understands the power of play and collaboration. She holds an master's in early childhood education from Dominican University and a bachelor’s in religion from the University of Michigan. She is pursuing her Ph.D. at Brandeis University. You can follow her on Instagram @meganmadison.
Sammy Rose Hickman is an author and illustrator. She graduated from Pace University with a bachelor’s in fine arts and creates work in mediums such as paint, charcoal, pencil, digital, and photography. In addition to being an artist/illustrator, Sammy has written a children’s book, “Why Am I So Scary?”
Hyewon Yum is an author and illustrator of many picture books, including “Lion Needs A Haircut” and “Grandpa Across the Ocean.” Her book “Saturday is Swimming Day” was named as a Charlotte Zolotow award honoree and “Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten!” received the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator award. She also illustrated “Not Little, Luli and the Language of Tea” and many more. She was born and grew up in Seoul, Korea, and now lives in Brooklyn with her family.