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Families encourage to attend book expo to improve literacy

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WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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Children and families across the region are encouraged to attend this Sunday's WNY Children’s Book Expo. It's a free family literacy event taking place at Kleinhans Music Hall from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says the book expo will be filled with interactive kids’ events, story time with national authors and professional development for educators. 

Second Year for WNY Children's Book Expo

“I think this is just a terrific opportunity for families to come together and spend some time just really immerse themselves in books all day long,” declared Educator Judy Bradbury. She has written books on literacy.

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Educator Judy Bradbury (left) with Kathleen Skoog, co-owner of Monkey See, Monkey Do, appear at the book shop to discuss the book expo.

The WNY Children’s Book Expo was founded last year by Monkey See, Monkey Do Children's Book Store in Clarence. That's where we met with Bradbury and Kathleen Skoog, co-owner of the book shop.

Authors at schools

While the book expo takes place Sunday, there has been a week-long celebration of reading across Western New York. Skoog explained authors have been visiting 50-area schools.

“So authors are going to 50-schools in 21-Western New York school districts, so that’s way up and above what we did in 2015,” Skoog noted.

The book authors and illustrators are from across the country and Canada. All this week they've reached hundreds of local school children with a messages about importance of reading.  

“We’ve got Nikki Grimes coming, who is one of the top five African American authors in the country. We’ve got Charles Smith coming, Tereai Trent is coming back from California and she’s the author of The GIRL Who Buried Her DREAMS in a CAN”, so she’s fantastic. We have a fantastic line up of wonderful children’s authors,” Skoog explained    

One of the goals of the book expo is to make sure authors visited underserved students. There were 13 visits to Buffalo Public schools this week.

Literacy in classroom

“Are you moving the meter at all on literacy and what you see with your involvement in it?” asked Buckley. 

“I think we are. I think that teachers are striving for ways to keep books in the forefront and I think they’re finding ways to use books in the constraints of standards and canned curriculum, and I think that as they become more comfortable with the way Common Core has been integrated into the school systems, they’re finding their way to use books in the classroom and so that’s exciting,” responded Bradbury.  

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Kathleen Skoog holds up the book Pete the Cat.

"I think my take away and our volunteers takeaway is what an important mission this is and how important it is to get even more children to this expo,” replied Skoog. 

The author visits all lead up to this Sunday's event in Kleinhan's in Mary Seaton Room. It’s all about getting families involved in literacy.

“Learn about authors and other types of books that maybe you never thought you might be interested in. You see that authors and illustrators are real people and you find out what they do and how they do it, and you get to interact with them. It’s memorable. It can be a turning point in children’s lives,” Bradbury said.  

Expo fun

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WNY Children's Book Expo tee shirts

The book expo will feature 36-authors. It will include keynote speaker Eric Litwin, a New York Times Best Selling author.  Most popular is his book Pete the Cat. Litwin is known for entertaining kids with music and song.   

“Then, of course, Eric Litwin. He will be on the concert hall stage. I believe he is going to be on twice at 11’o’clock and then 2’o’clock,” Skoog stated.   

“And then the professional development for educators is from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. in Livingston Hall,” Bradbury noted.

“They’ll learn some practical ways to get parents involved in literacy. They’ll learn about some programs that they can use to bring some parents into the school to figure out ways that they can help kids with homework, with what to do in the summer so that you can avoid the summer slide.  I think a bullet point of educators is finding a way to make parents feel comfortable and empowered with bringing literacy into the home." Bradbury explained.

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Educator Judy Bradbury has written books on literacy.

A number of are organizations and business are sponsoring the event. Monkey See, Monkey Do has a team of 70-volunteers who put the entire expo together.

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