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Storytelling Workshop Activity for Children

A student works on writing her own story in the Storyteller Workshop.

This summer, ReadBoston has been experimenting with new supplemental literacy activities in a pilot program at several Storymobile sites. In an effort to design a more comprehensive literacy curriculum to accompany the Storymobile program, we have been developing new activities and leading workshops on some new ideas to accompany our Storymobile program.
This activity, introduced by one of ReadBoston’s summer staffers, has proved to be a favorite with children of many age groups! Called the “Storytelling Workshop,” the activity complements the storytelling theme already present in the Storymobile programming and encourages children to be creative while practicing many skills that are important to improving literacy. The group conversation time at the beginning reinforces new vocabulary and verbal communication, while the storytelling aspect helps to develop memory and critical thinking. Though the individual writing component itself has obvious benefits, the focus of this exercise is on developing ideas rather than on grammar and spelling. Sometimes, a fear of being wrong can discourage children from even trying to write. However, by emphasizing the importance of creativity, children are free to practice without fear of making mistakes.

The activity is fairly straightforward and easy to do with any number of students: together, kids and their teacher come up with the beginning of an original storyline with fully developed characters, setting, and conflict. Together, the class composes sentences and begins to tell the story. However, when the story reaches its climax, students break off to write their own creative endings. Once finished, these stories can be copied and made into books!

All you need is paper and colored pens. It can be good to set up larger sheets of paper on the walls so everyone can see what the group is brainstorming (or you can use a whiteboard if you have access to one). You can start by talking about components of the story, like characters, plot, setting, dialogue, and conflict. For more advanced children, this conversation can be more in depth and include complex ideas like themes, points of view, and climax. Then, once the kids have an understanding of the story components, start to develop your own story by asking them questions about your main characters, the setting, and the plot. The more detail the better, so ask them to be specific! As you work together, you can start writing the story out as the students describe it.
Once the story gets to an exciting cliffhanger—with lots of questions, split up the kids to write their own endings. Supply them with paper and colored pens or crayons and encourage them to use the tools you talked about to finish the story in their own creative way. If students don’t feel comfortable writing, they can draw pictures to express their ideas. Once they’re finished, you can turn their endings into individual books by adding the beginning section you wrote together, making front and back covers, and binding the pages to each other.
This project can be as elaborate and advanced as you’d like depending on how much time you have and the reading experience of the children. Practicing storytelling in this way can strengthen literacy skills of all kinds while reinforcing the natural creativity of the students.


August 9, 2012 at 1:27 PM Leave a comment

ReadBoston’s Storymobile Rolls Around Town

ReadBoston’s Storymobile has been spotted all over Boston this summer, delivering free books and engaging storytelling activities in neighborhood centers and playgrounds in every corner of the city.

Now in it’s 17th year, the Storymobile works to combat the phenomenon known as the Summer Slide, which can put students without access to books as far as 4 months behind their peers when school starts again in the fall. Researchers find that while children from lower-income households make as much progress as their peers from middle-income homes during the school year, the skills of students from lower-income homes slipped away during the summer months. They further find that the effects of the Summer Slide are cumulative and concluded that 2/3 of the 9th grade reading achievement gap can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities during elementary school. With access to as few as six books to read and re-read over the summer months, children can start to beat the Summer Slide and hit the ground running in September.

Stopping at over 80 sites each week, the goal of the ReadBoston Storymobile program is to promote regular reading and to build literacy skills outside of the classroom. At every site, children actively engage through songs, movement and other activities led by ReadBoston’s professional storytellers. Each child who attends the Storymobile receives a free, new book to take home with them. All sessions are completely free and open to the public, so come on down and join us for an entertaining and educational hour!

The program began on July 9th, and will continue through August 17th. A full schedule of weekly times and locations can be found on our website, Check out these photos for a glimpse at some of the fun!

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July 26, 2012 at 2:10 PM Leave a comment

Wordless Books and Reading

Here at ReadBoston, we’re strong advocates for reading aloud to children. In fact, research says that, “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.”  In order to develop a love of reading, children need to hear stories, many stories, read aloud.  And, hearing books read aloud is fun, exciting and helps children connect with the magic and wonder of stories.

One way we love to read to babies, toddlers and young children is to use wordless books. We recently created a list of our favorite wordless books that adults and children can look at together to create their own stories to go along with the illustrations. Wordless picture books are a wonderful way to introduce young children to concepts they will later apply when learning to read, such as building vocabulary, comprehension skills and sequencing of events in a story.  Wordless books are also great for English language learners and adults whose first language is not English- families can “read” wordless picture books as a way of creatively sharing stories together.

Click here for a list of some of our favorite wordless picture books.

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February 1, 2012 at 9:00 AM Leave a comment

Give the gift of books and reading!

Here at ReadBoston, we distribute over 100,000 books to kids in programs throughout Boston. While most of the books we provide are new, many of them are gently used and provided to schools, homeless shelters and preschools to replenish their libraries. In order to provide these books to the very deserving kids that read them, we rely on donations from the community. Schools, businesses, and universities often host book drives for us throughout the year, but there’s an even easier way for YOU to donate new or gently used books to ReadBoston.

We know it’s hard to part with books you love, but just think, your favorite copy of Goodnight Moon or Caps for Sale might continue to bring joy to a child in Boston. Donate these beloved books to ReadBoston through We’ve recently added tons of popular titles often requested by programs in the city.

Visit to browse the titles that we need. And give your books a new life!

To learn more about ReadBoston, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @ReadBostonMA .


December 22, 2011 at 1:48 PM Leave a comment

The Storymobile rolls on….for an extra week!

The ReadBoston Storymobile has been delighting children across Boston with stories and free books since July 5 of this year. We’ll continue to visit 78 sites each week through August 12, but the fun doesn’t stop there! New this year, we have added a week of special events from August 15-19. The brightly colored van will make stops at some very special Boston locations like Fenway Park, the Bunker Hill Monument, Spectacle Island, the Boston Common and Boston College’s Alumni Stadium. Not only will children hear stories and receive free, new books, but they’ll also get to participate in other activities at each location. This week of special events was designed to give kids an experiential session that will support new language and literacy skills in a new setting. 

All sessions are free and open to the public: 

Fenway Park– Gate D: Monday, August 15, 12:00 PM

Bunker Hill Monument–Charlestown: Tuesday, August 16, 11:00 AM

Spectacle Island–Boston Harbor Islands: Wednesday, August 17, 12:30 PM

 TADPole Playground –Boston Common: Thursday, August 18, 11:00 AM

 Boston College Alumni Stadium – Gate D: Friday, August 19, 12:00 PM

 For additional information, including a full schedule, visit Questions? Call 617-918-5289.


July 26, 2011 at 2:59 PM Leave a comment

Beep! Beep! Here comes the Storymobile!

It’s that time of year again! The ReadBoston Storymobile will be rolling through the streets of Boston visiting 78 sites each week from July 5-August 12. At each Storymobile session, children participate in a fun, interactive storytelling with a professional storyteller and receive a free, new book to take home. By the end of the summer, children will have received at least six free, new books to keep as their own!

The goal of the Storymobile program is to promote literacy as a year round endeavor that doesn’t end when school doors close for summer. Too often ReadBoston’s Storymobile provides the only literacy activities that Boston kids, especially ages 2-7, experience throughout the summer break. The summer slide, as termed by researchers, which many low-income children experience, might be avoided by providing as few as six books for them to read, and re-read, during the summer months. 

ReadBoston is very excited to include some new features in this year’s program:

  • Two weekly evening sessions:
    • Tuesdays, beginning July 12, 7 pm at Jamaica Pond
    • Thursdays, beginning July 14, 5 pm at the Franklin Park Zoo, outside of the Zebra Gate
  • Weekly session at the Leahy-Holloran Community Center in Dorchester(Tuesdays at 1:15) that is open to all and will include Autism friendly programming
  • A week of special events from August 15-19 including sessions at Fenway Park, Spectacle Island, Boston College and Bunker Hill 

The Storymobile program is open to all children across the city of Boston. Click here for a location near you! 

Questions? Call ReadBoston at 617-918-5289.

June 23, 2011 at 4:28 PM Leave a comment

ReadBoston Best Read Aloud Book Award

On Tuesday May 3, ReadBoston announced the winner of the 7th Annual Best Read Aloud Book Award. A group of notable Bostonians gathered in Mayor Menino’s office to pick the best read aloud book of the year. Twelve books were presented to the panel and the winner is Miss Brooks Loves Books (and I don’t) by Barbara Bottner, illustrated by Michael Emberley and published by Alfred A. Knopf.

Panelists included Boston School Superintendent Carol Johnson, Boston’s First Lady Angela Menino, literary agent Ike Williams, the Boston Bruins’ Bob Sweeney, Boston Globe columnist Beth Teitell, BC Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo, PEAR chair Stacey Lucchino, Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray, PR gal Marlo Fogelman, Putnam Investments’ Bob Reynolds and others.

Over 400 books were submitted from across the US and Canada for

From Left to Right: Boston Bruins' Bob Sweeney, Wheelocl President Jackie Jenkins Scott, Mayor Menino and Stacey Lucchino listen as the books are read.

consideration for this award. ReadBoston created the Best Read Aloud Book Award seven years ago to bring attention to the importance of reading aloud to children.  Research indicates that reading aloud is one of the most important activities for building the knowledge required for eventual school success.  This is an annual award given to the best read aloud book, appropriate for ages 4-8, published during that year.

The other books presented to the panel include:

Brontorina by James Howe

Clever Jack Takes the Cake by Candace Fleming

Dancing Feet! by Lindsey Craig

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill

My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete

Ruby’s School Walk by Kathryn White

Swim! Swim! by Lerch

Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival by Grace Lin

Tiny Little Fly by Michael Rosen

Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged by Jody Nyasha Warner

Welcome to My Neighborhood: A Barrio ABC by Quiara Alegría Hudes

Check them out at a local library or bookstore today! 


Want some tips on reading aloud? Check out the Resources page and click on “Reading Books with Children” and “Why Read Aloud.”

May 18, 2011 at 12:36 PM Leave a comment

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