Pam Allyn’s Book & Journey into the World of Literacy

Today, for Friday’s Spotlight, I am excited to introduce you to a very special guest.  I am privelaged to have Pam Allyn, author of What to Read When, as a guest blogger on the domestic fringe.  Pam’s list of accolades is great.  She is not only an author, but also a public speaker and lecturer dedicated to children’s literacy.

I recently wrote a short book review and gave away a copy of What to Read When.  It is an excellent resource for any parent, grandparent, or children’s educator and if you haven’t read the review, please click HERE

Pam Allyn is the Founding Director of Books for Boys, a literacy initiative at the Children’s Village.  Children’s Village is a residential treatment center and school for at risk boys in New York.  Coincidentally, I spent a very interesting summer working at Children’s Village while in college, but those are stories for another day.

Please read on as Pam takes us on a short journey of What to Read When.  Then go visit her at her website, read a little about her literacy programs, and tell her I sent you.  If you’d like to order What to Read When, a link is available on the first page of her website.


What to Read When: The Journey

Several weeks ago, a mother called me to ask for a book suggestion for her little daughter, who had just started a new school, in order to begin a discussion about the changes taking place in her daughter’s life. When we leave the hospital with our baby or greet the plane that brings us our adopted baby, no one gives us a course on what to read when to our precious children but we wish we had one as they grow. We all want to do what is best for our children. We pray the world will be tender and kind to them on their journeys. Literature gives us a way to create bridges to us for our children, to help us guide them and offer them comfort and love and joy along all these journeys.

I wanted to offer a way for parents, grandparents, teachers and all caregivers to easily find the kinds of books that serve as those markers. I began to write the book I have been writing in my mind for years, What to Read When. And as I began writing and sharing the title with people, I noticed something amazing happened: people so want to read with and to children because anyone who has ever done so knows how much it truly matters to that child. The excitement was huge and everyone loved sharing their favorite titles. This book then is a love letter to all the contributors, children, parents, grandparents, teachers, librarians and all friends of children who care so much. I hope you will enjoy it too!

As a literacy educator and director of a national organization for teacher training and a nonprofit organization for global literacy called LitWorld, I am dedicated to working towards a world that is full of children who read and write.. Through teacher and family education, I strive to empower children to read and write powerfully, effectively and with passion and delight, so that they may grow up able to fulfill their dreams and leave their positive imprint on the world.

In What to Read When I have created a simple acronym to help us all become part of this movement to foster literacy for all children. The acronym is, fittingly, READ, which stands for: RITUALS ENVIRONMENT ACCESS and DIALOGUE.

Let us establish rituals of reading aloud together in our homes. Find time to read to your children that are not just at bedtime (when everyone is truly tired!). Bring those rituals to your car trips, to outings to the park, to dinnertime. Put a basket of books in the kitchen and let your child know that while that soup simmers on the stove, you will take a moment to read a funny poem about food. Environmental support for literacy can be an attention to the simple touches. Set up an environment that makes reading together feel fun and comfortable. Find a special pillow for your couch that you always lean on when reading aloud together. Pull out your favorite board books and read them to your child while he splashes in the tub. Access is about being sure our children are in close proximity to books always. Visit your library together, browse online too! In addition, don’t put books in high bookshelves. Put them low to the ground where even an adventurous toddler can easily reach them. Finally, dialogue is so important to developing your child’s reading life. By talking about, laughing about, dreaming about and simply loving great books, you become a “reading role model” for your child. Also, it is just plain fun and a great way to get to know all the truly interesting things on your child’s mind.

The power of the read aloud is transformative. Through the simple act of reading aloud, we can convey values, ideas and passions to our children. Best of all, we can hear about theirs. I invite you to join me in this great journey and share with me some of your favorite read alouds too!

Visit my website at and share titles you love too.


Many thanks Pam.


  1. says

    My mom read to me. We didn’t have many books, but that simple act fostered a love of reading for me, and thence a love of learning. So as homeschoolers, reading to our daughter was tops on our list.

    She’s almost 17 and loves to read and learn. All the rest is easy from there. One caveat: stick to great literature, no drivel. Don’t waste time on inferior books. There’s so much gold! Look for lists you trust if you’re not familiar with the titles.


    Merryheart@Free’nWell Blog

  2. says

    Wish I’d had this when my kids were younger.

    Speaking of book recommendations, this reminded me to comment on your “Still Alice” post. I finished it a week or two ago and it was wonderful! THANKS!

  3. says

    I always appreciate finding others who are concerned about helping children become readers.

    That’s because I grew up as a reluctant reader. And my father was the author of over 70 books. Now I write action-adventure and mystery books especially for tween boys. My blog, Books for boys, is # 1 on Google this morning.

    Keep up your good work!

    Max Elliot Anderson

  4. says

    thanks for the introduction!!! I love to read and so do all 4 of my children…I think when kids truly get reading their minds soar.


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